Stress is the response of your brain and body to life demands, whether work, school, exercise, major life changes, or traumatic events (1)
It is a normal physical and mental response to situations that require attention, effort, or change. While some stress can motivate us to take action and solve problems, it can become overwhelming and have negative effects on our physical and mental health.
Many people feel like their job is the major source of stress in their lives. As a matter of fact, work is the second top source of stress at 65%, right behind money (2).
Some factors that trigger stress at work include heavy workload, tight deadlines, lack of control over work, conflicts with coworkers or supervisors, and work-life imbalance.
These stressors can affect your physical and mental well-being, not to mention your job performance. Individuals and organizations must recognize and manage work-related stress to maintain a healthy and productive workplace.
Major Causes of Stress at Work
There are many factors that can trigger stress in the workplace. Here are two of them:
1- Performance-Based Stress
Performance-based stress, also known as achievement stress, is one of the main stressors related to work. It is related to the need to meet high standards or achieve specific goals.
One factor that triggers this type of stress is the fact that performance-contingent pay is a major approach worldwide (3).
Performance-contingent pay, or “pay for performance”, is a system in which your pay as an employee is based on your performance or productivity. This means that your payments may increase or decrease based on how well you meet specific targets.
Performance-contingent pay can motivate employees since it provides a financial incentive to work hard. However, it can also be a source of stress, because it puts pressure on them to meet certain goals and induce uncertainty about their pay.
Overworking is also another concern. If you are competitive or have a strong need to meet expectations and prove yourself, you will be more prone to stress.
2- Job Insecurity Stress
The fear of losing your job or experiencing negative changes in your employment status is another huge source of stress. Job insecurity can be caused by a variety of factors, such as economic downturns, changes in the job market, or organizational restructuring.
Job insecurity can have adverse effects on your physical and mental health, as well as your job performance. It can cause stress, anxiety, and depression, and it can also lead to decreased productivity.
Add to that, the fear of losing the ability to provide for your family's basic necessities, and the fear of failing to provide luxuries such as bigger houses, cars, and expensive vacations.
How to Manage Work-Related Stress
1- Identify the source of your stress:
Take some time to think about what is causing your stress at work. Are there specific tasks, people, or situations that are causing you stress? Once you have identified the sources of your stress, you can start to develop strategies to manage them.
2- Overcome Sunday Night Stress:
As the weekend reaches its end, you may find yourself dreading Monday morning. The real culprit is Sunday night and your anticipatory anxiety. The irony is that most often when you get to work and spend a couple of hours on the job, your stress level actually lowers. You replace your work worries with involvement and action. You find that the reality is less distressing than your negative anticipation.
So, the trick is to figure out how to cope with the night before. You can do that by getting to bed a little bit earlier, planning something relaxing and enjoyable that you can look forward to on Sunday night, and planning something you can look forward to on Monday.
3- Develop healthy coping mechanisms:
Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercising, practicing relaxation techniques (deep breathing or meditation), or talking to a friend or family member or a mental health professional.
4- Set boundaries:
Set limits on your work hours and create a healthy balance between work and your personal life.
5- Seek support:
Do not be afraid to ask for help or support from your colleagues. You can even talk to your supervisor about your workload and any concerns you may have. They may be able to provide you with additional support or resources to help you manage your stress.
6- Practice good self-care:
Take care of your physical and mental health by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities you enjoy.
7- Practice time management:
Use time management techniques, such as setting priorities, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and delegating tasks to help you manage your workload more effectively.
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(1) National institute of mental health : I’m So Stressed Out! Fact Sheet
(2) 2015 Stress in America Snapshot (apa.org)
(3) Strategic pay: Aligning organizational strategies and pay systems. - PsycNET (apa.org)