Workplace Stress: How Are You Coping?
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
“It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye
One of my patients recently shared with me how much stress she feels at work on a daily basis. Over the past year her company has let a number of key people go and they have not hired anybody to replace them. There is no difference in the workload and as a result she is doing more work than ever before. There are more demands on her time and she constantly feels pressured by senior management. On top of all that, new technology and software has been introduced and she is having a hard time keeping up. Like most people, she has her own share of personal challenges. Her husband was recently laid off and their finances are tight. They are raising three young children and there is so much to do every day. The stress of her personal life creeps into her daily activity constantly and she’s hard-pressed to get all her work done. She feels that her work stress has pushed her beyond her capacity and the chronic pain she is seeing me for is directly linked to all the pressure she’s under.
Her story is so common. In my clinical practice and at workshops and seminars, I constantly hear stories of workplace overload leading to increased stress. It’s not unusual for people to tell me that they feel their employers are out of touch with how much stress is being placed upon them. It's incumbent upon employers to pay attention to the mental health/stress epidemic that is so common in every workplace. The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey published in June 2019, highlights the importance of recognizing the impact of chronic illnesses including mental health issues in the workplace. The survey gathers information from Canadian employers, their employees and the largest insurance benefits providers in Canada. The survey states, “mental illness is a leading cause of disability claims and can result in the highest costs per claim”. In a previous blog, I talked about the prevalence of presenteeism in the workplace and its impact on corporate culture and productivity. One of the largest contributors to presenteeism is the high percentage of employees suffering from daily stress which contributes to mental illness.
Are you feeling increasing stress at work? Have you taken any proactive steps to reduce the stress? Have you gone to your company EAP or have you spoken to any mental health professional? Does your company have practical resources available to help people cope better with stress in the workplace? Do you perceive that stress is a widespread problem? Are people complaining about the workload, extra hours of work and the constant demands for more productivity and deadlines to get work done? Has your company taken any steps to reduce the stress that is felt within your corporate culture?
Workplace stress is a significant concern for many workers young and old. Life today seems busier than ever before. It’s a common theme in daily conversations. As a consequence, there’s never been a greater demand for people to find balance in their lives. What steps are you taking to achieve that balance? Have you developed any strategies to reduce the impact of stress in your life? What kind of coping techniques do you employ? What kind of resources would be helpful for you? If you are concerned about increasing stress at work, it’s time to stop and ask yourself: “I recognize that stress is impacting me negatively. What can I do about this?” Let’s start a conversation about stress in your workplace and I welcome your feedback!