Workplace stress is a fact of life for many people – employees and business owners alike. And, it’s not going to go away anytime soon. You may have a vision of a relaxed and peaceful work environment but the reality is …
There will always be times when you come face-to-face with stress. So, if you’re facing workplace stress more often than you’d like, there’s nothing left to do but deal with it.
What is eustress in the workplace?
Workplace stress usually starts out as eustress. It is positive or beneficial stress. When we experience eustress, our body feels energized, motivated, and happy. We may also feel confident, relaxed, and optimistic about life.
It’s eustress that enhances creativity and is often the seed for a great idea. Entrepreneurs usually start their businesses with an abundance of this positive stress. It motivates them to do greater things and reach greater heights.
But … this doesn’t last for most entrepreneurs.
What are the effects of workplace stress?
Did you know that workplace stress costs U.S. businesses up to $300 billion a year? According to Stress.org, this adds up–from health costs, poor performance, absenteeism, and high turnover.
Imagine yourself managing a business that’s just starting to flourish. You recognize that the stress level for everyone was increasing but you were “on a roll.” If your success relies on high level stress to be successful, it’s not sustainable.
You will begin having problems with your staff. And, the stress will catch up with you sooner or later! This is why it is important that you understand how to address workplace stress before it sabotages your success.
Since most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in the workplace, long-term exposure to a high level of workplace stress must be mitigated. Stress, unchecked, can cause physical and mental harm.
Some of the causes of workplace stress include …
- job insecurity
- the pressure to perform
- long working hours
- lack of time for breaks
- lack of control
- poor communication
- conflicts at work
- too many tasks on the To-Do List
Stress increases when we feel like we don’t have much control over the obstacles we face when meeting the demands of our jobs.
Stress at work can lead to burnout … and a loss of passion for the work that was once energizing. Burnout can be caused by long hours, excessive workloads, and too much responsibility. You might recognize these causes from our list above. People who suffer from burnout often feel depressed, anxious, angry, and frustrated.
How Eustress Becomes Distress and Distress Becomes Toxic Stress
Employees usually start their careers with excitement about their work. While there are challenges that create stress, most employees enjoy working because they love what they do. They see themselves as contributing positively to the company, its clients, and society.
As responsibilities add up and deadlines approach, employees and employers alike often begin to feel a higher level of stress.
Eustress becomes distress.
The feeling of distress comes from not having enough time to complete all the tasks on the To Do List. Employees may feel overwhelmed by the number of projects on their plate, which reduces productivity leading to more stress.
If employees don’t get any relief from their stressful jobs, they will eventually feel exhausted, burned out, and even depressed.
Distress becomes toxic stress.
The best solution for workplace stress is stress mastery.
What is Stress Mastery?
Stress mastery is a process where we learn how to control our emotions and thoughts when they become overwhelming. This allows us to be more productive and effective at work. We also need to learn how to deal with stressful situations effectively. When we master these skills, we can handle any situation that comes up at work.
Why Stress Mastery Is Important?
Business owners need to be able to handle stressful situations effectively and model that for their staff. Not knowing how to deal with stress could lead to chaos in your company. If this happens, you will end up losing money and customers.
The key to mastering stress is learning how to cope with the endless string of stressful situations. If you don’t know how to handle stress well, you may end up turning to behaviors like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or eating unhealthy foods that just make the situation worse. These habits can lead to serious health issues such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
Mastering stress will help you take care of yourself and your business. If you have problems managing your stress, then you won’t be able to focus on the priorities that will produce positive results for your business. And, you may find yourself cleaning up after some costly mistakes that add to the loss.
9 Ways to Master Stress
The first step to mastering your stress is to be aware of what you’re going through. When you are aware of what is going on around you, you can control your emotions and respond appropriately. This allows you to avoid getting stressed out about things that you cannot change.
According to Earl E. Bakken of the University of Minnesota, awareness means knowing what caused your stress, what you can do about your stressors, how you experience stress, and how you cope with stress.
- Recognize the Symptoms
Recognizing the symptoms of stress will help you understand what caused your stress. The main symptom of stress is feeling nervous or worried. Other symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, sweating, irritability, muscle tension, insomnia, and fatigue. If you experience these symptoms frequently, then you may be suffering from chronic stress.
- Understanding the Triggers
Common stress triggers include financial worries, relationship issues, work pressures, health concerns, and family responsibilities. When we feel stressed out, our body releases adrenaline which makes us want to do something fast to provide relief. This leads us to overeat, drink, smoke, and use drugs.
Acceptance is the ability to accept what is happening right now, rather than trying to change things. When we try to control our environment, we feel stressed. Sometimes we just need to accept that things are out of our control in the moment. This helps us relax a bit and find some peace.
You are more open to the realization that there will always be something that causes you stress. It’s not always easy to accept your stressors, but you must if you want to master them.
Don’t resist negative emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, jealousy, etc. This allows us to be aware of these feelings and learn from them.
When we feel angry, for example, we may want to avoid making decisions that could lead to arguments or fights. With a bit of restraint, we buy ourselves some time to choose how to react.
We can either express our anger or let go of it. The latter option takes us back to acceptance. Accept the emotion rather than resisting it. By accepting our emotions, we reduce our stress levels.
- Using Energy
The increased adrenaline related to stress needs to be used productively or it will build. We feel better when we use our energy to move our bodies. We feel happier, healthier, and more energetic. This feeling makes us more productive, creative, and motivated.
The best way to use our energy is to exercise regularly. Exercise helps us release endorphins which make us feel happier.
Meditation is a great way to relieve stress. It involves sitting quietly while focusing on your breathing. Let thoughts pass through your mind. You will notice that your thoughts become less chaotic and you start to feel calmer.
It’s also a great way to spend some time alone. This will help you relax and de-stress.
Journaling is one of the best ways to help you cope with workplace stress. When you write down what you’re thinking and feeling, you will likely gain some clarity which will help you feel like you have regained some control. You’ll understand yourself better which makes it easier for you to control your emotions when you need to.
Journaling also helps you learn from your mistakes and successes. It provides an opportunity for you to reflect on your life and think about things you would like to change.
- Acupuncture to Relieve Stress
Acupuncture stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin regulates moods and affects our sleep patterns. It also improves blood circulation and increases the amount of oxygen available to the brain. Increasing the level of serotonin in the brain naturally relieves stress.
Mastering Stress by Maintaining the Feeling of Eustress
If you’re concerned that workplace stress is getting worse, using some of the techniques suggested here will help you maintain your feeling of eustress.
Workplace stress will never go away, that’s for sure. But you can always make it an advantage that works for you and your business! Isn’t it time that you moved stress mastery to the top of the To Do List?
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