How to identify stress at work

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Stress at work can be a really hard experience to go through.

There is tension between the needs of the work and organisation and the personal impact this can have on a staff member. There is some expectation in some organisations that if you aren’t stressed out ‘pushed to the pump’ your not working ‘hard enough’.

This can really place a toll on any worker to work themselves to the bone, impacting all parts of their life. How is stress seen in your workplace? Is it an expected experience or is it seen as a warning sign that maybe your workload has increased too much?

Some stress is OK if it is temporary, manageable and not something that is debilitating.

When you study for a test your stress level can increase, prompting you to study harder and motivates behaviours towards feeling more prepared. This is time limited, manageable and personal behaviours can address the stress level through positive study habits. Some stress can actually be too much.

Lets look at a simple diagram that highlights optimal performance.

Stress at Work graphic - Safe Place Therapy
Stress at Work graphic – Safe Place Therapy

We can see here no arousal or stress gives us little impetus or drive to perform, meaning that some arousal or stress can be good. A ‘medium’ amount of stress or arousal gives us the optimal amount of performance level in work or study experience.

But anything more than a medium arousal point actually has impacts on performance in a negative way. Feelings of being overwhelmed, having difficulties thinking and processing and feeling stuck can really drive someone to feel hopeless and stuck in a dark place mentally.

Stress can be felt differently and also it can present differently. Some people go very quiet and withdraw themselves from others, consuming themselves with their work. Others may become very agitated when others approach them or be quite passive aggressive in nature. While the symptoms and presentation are different the issue is the same, too much stress at work occurring.

Stress at work: some interesting questions to ask yourself

How does your workplace view stress?

  • Is it viewed as a positive thing, driving people towards outcomes by pressuring people, or
  • Is it seen as something to be aware of and someone will check in on someone when they see they are stressed

How do you view stress?

  • Is it something that helps drive you, or
  • Does it get way too much

What is your presentation of being stressed?

Do you withdraw and consume yourself or do you engage and ask for help?

How do you manage stress at work?

All the above can be helpful questions in deciding whether you might need some help with stress management at work. Is there a safe person at work you can talk to about stress at work and the impact it has?

Lets start talking more about stress and creating a an environment where stress is managed and in check. Here are some other articles related to stress management.

Still need some help? Reach out to our team at Safe Place Therapy.

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