Work-related stress is no joke. It’s a serious condition that affects a large number of New Zealanders. In fact, it’s statistically likely to be affecting someone you know.
Have you noticed a friend or family member who has been off form recently? Or maybe you’ve been feeling off, but hadn’t considered the cause?
We often don’t realise we are suffering from work-related stress until our symptoms either get in the way of us enjoying life or start affecting those around us. It’s not like stubbing your toe and feeling a shot of pain. Stress can creep up on you unnoticed and reveal itself in a variety of ways.
Work-related stress symptoms
Identifying that you, or someone you love, is suffering from stress is often the most difficult first step. Once you have identified the symptoms, it’s easier to track back and find the cause.
Here’s our quick rundown of some of the symptoms that could affect you as a result of work-related stress. These symptoms tend to apply to all types of stress, so it’s important to understand if it’s work that is triggering them.
- Being irritable or aggressive
- Feeling depressed or pessimistic
- Being uninterested or unmotivated by work
- Problems sleeping
- An ongoing feeling of tiredness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Stomach problems, such as constipation or diarrhoea
- Social withdrawal, wanting to be alone
- Loss of sex drive
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope
- Heart palpitations
- Skin disorders
Causes of work-related stress
There are a wide range of issues at work that can cause you to experience stress. Stress rarely grows from one source, so we’ve summarised 5 main causes of work-related stress to help you get to the root of your problems.
1. Unexpected responsibilities and pressures
If you’ve got a job to do and you know what it is then it’s easy to keep control. However control can be lost if your job keeps changing, your responsibilities keep shifting, and you can’t predict what your day will hold.
2. Excessive workload
It’s good to be busy but not too busy. An excessive workload is one that never seems to reduce; needs constant attention; and requires long working hours. Excessive workloads are a definite cause of work-related stress.
3. A toxic work environment
It may sound dramatic, but it’s not uncommon for work environments to turn toxic. This can be one of the most common causes of work-related stress.
A toxic work environment could be caused by relationship problems with people who work for you, with you, or who manage you. It may just be bad communication skills or perhaps you are suffering from bullying. Either way you can be sure that this will trigger stress responses if you don’t address the problem.
Toxic work environments can also be caused by unsettling issues like job insecurity and redundancies. You may not always enjoy going to work but it’s important that you feel both valued and secure in your job. This is essential to both how you see yourself and your ability to pay the bills.
4. Management bullying
A key part of the role of your line manager and the leaders of your business is to motivate, drive, and support you in your role. Unfortunately companies don’t always recruit the right people into these important positions and you may find that personalities or pressure lead to poor communication and bad management decisions.
A difficult relationship can quickly deteriorate into a position where you feel unsupported or bullied. Bullying can quickly undermine your confidence in your ability to do your job and make you question your position in the company. This can cause high levels of stress and make going to work an unhappy experience.
5. Crisis incidents
Sometimes work-related stress can be caused by an incident that has had a psychological impact on you, that you may not even have realised at the time.
Examples of this could be work-based accidents or deaths, or near miss incidents that could cause trauma without an accident actually occurring. It’s important to address these situations quickly and ensure they don’t escalate into a stress generating issue.
What to do with work-related stress
One of the problems with pinpointing your work-related stress is the wide range of problems that can trigger it. If you find it easy to identify the cause of your stress then the next step is working out how to resolve and get rid of it.
Whether you can identify the cause of your stress or not, independent counselling and medical support are important if you are suffering from symptoms that are affecting your health. It’s important to combat both the physical and psychological causes and effects of stress. Your doctor provides a good starting point and will help you establish whether there are wider health issues to deal with.
If you’ve identified that you’re suffering from work-related stress then the next step is to bring this to the attention of your business. Your manager has a responsibility to help you deal with stress in the workplace. It’s a good idea to raise any issues you have with them, or with a human resources representative.
Want some support?
Sometimes it can be hard to talk about your problems with people either inside or outside work. It’s not always easy to say how you feel and stress can make it difficult to communicate clearly and constructively.
If you’re concerned about your options and you would like support raising your concerns with your employer, why not call Sacked Kiwi? We’re experts in employment law and we know your rights. A conversation with us can help you to understand your options for the future and put a plan in place to address the cause of your stress.
Work-related stress can cause long term issues if it isn’t resolved and treated. Don’t let it get the better of you and impact your ability to work.