Stress in the workplace
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Caroline Le Vine
21st July, 20160 Comments
We know stress is bad for us. We know it's destructive; that it can make us unwell and dysfunctional, that it impacts negatively on our relationships. For many, the workplace is a hotbed of stress. Coasting colleagues, unreasonable bosses, unreliable suppliers, angry customers, low pay, unfair treatment or a lack of fulfilment can leave us dreading work and desperate for the moment when we can pack up and go home again - only to face it all again the next day.
What can we do about it? We don't often feel we can change much of what goes on around us at work. If you're lucky enough to have an understanding manager who listens supportively and then acts appropriately to resolve the issue, great. But it may be that what gets to you is just the job itself and it's not always easy to find something else that would suit you better, assuming that you even know what that might be. So, if you can't change the environment, you are - of course - left with yourself. Is there something you can do?
First, if stress is causing you distress, talking to people is important. Management have a duty to staff and this includes looking after your health and safety. Stressed people will become unhealthy and unsafe if the stress is chronic. Your manager can't do anything to help if they don't know what you're experiencing. They may be able to suggest changes you hadn't thought of or simply support you while you get through a difficult patch. If this isn't possible, consider HR (if there is one), or colleagues or even a union rep (again, if you have one). Failing this, see your GP. Really, they can help.
Second, reflect on your attitude to work - what does it mean for you, why are you in this particular job, how would you like it to be different? If you're often wound up, what can you do to change this? Can you work out what your part in it is? Do you always get hooked in to the dramas going on around you? Maybe finding a way of detaching yourself emotionally would help. Can you practice some kind of relaxation, either physical or mental? For some, a workout at the gym helps, for others it's gardening, yoga or meditation. A relaxing glass or two of wine after work may seem effective in helping you to wind down but you're not tackling the core of the problem and may well be creating others: primarily psychological addiction to alcohol and/or physical health problems down the line.
Counselling may have a role to play as well: sorting out what's going on isn't always easy and some feelings of stress have their roots quite deep underground, emotionally-speaking, which means we aren't conscious of those roots. They may need discovering slowly and gently.
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