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11 Dec 2019

How to manage stress in the workplace

Stress is a natural response designed to help tackle perceived threats or difficulties. When the body is stressed, the nervous system responds by releasing hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body for an emergency fight or flight action. For instance, a caveman coming face-to-face with a lion would experience a speeding heart rate and faster breathing as their body slows down digestion and shunts blood flow to major muscle groups, giving them a burst of energy and strength. 

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Although fighting or escaping from dangerous predators isn’t a daily occurrence anymore, we still encounter situations that trigger the same response, such as feeling anxious about a presentation, interview or social situation.

Once the perceived danger has passed, these physical effects usually fade as the body becomes physiologically relaxed again. However, problems can arise during times of chronic stress as the relaxation response does not occur, and the body stays in a state of high-alert for too long. Stress-related symptoms may occur and the body shuts down activities used for long-term functioning, including immune function, reproduction, sex drive and growth. 

What are the causes of occupational stress?

There are a variety of causes of stress in the workplace, each affecting people in different ways – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors such as skills, experience and age can affect whether an employee can cope.

Six common causes of stress include: 

1) Role

When an employee is unsure of what is expected from them, their responsibilities and/or how their role fits into the objectives of the organisation. Additionally, if employees find themselves with insufficient skills to complete the task at hand, they may feel anxious about their work.

2) Support

Receiving little or no information and support from colleagues or management can leave employees feeling frustrated and undervalued.

3) Relationships

It’s rare to find a workplace where all employees get along, and that’s okay. However, when personalities clash and conflict occurs it can lead to employees feeling harassed or even bullied. 

To find out the remaining three common causes of stress, the problems occupational stress can cause employers, how to recognise the signs and what you can do to help reduce it, download our free Guide to Managing Stress in the Workplace.

The article is provided by Bluecrest Wellness.

In partnership with Bluecrest Wellness

Bluecrest Wellness offers high-quality health screenings.

Contact us today

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