Work stress today is very prevalent at all levels; prior to the pandemic, work stress was high but, since, work stress is out of control. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job. I am sure that number is higher in certain industries, such as restaurants and retail.
The effects of stress can be very detrimental to one’s health and well-being, the effects which can be long-lasting. You may be experiencing the symptoms of work stress burnout no matter your age.
Symptoms of Work Stress
In order to manage stress, you need to understand what the symptoms are before you can take control of it. The symptoms will vary by each person, but there are some general ways stress presents itself. Here are some questions to answer:
+ Are you feeling a lack of personal achievement and satisfaction at work? This is one of the early warning signs.
+ Is going to work a time-consuming drudgery and work itself a day-long bore?
+ Do you get frustrated more easily and/or getting angry with work, your coworkers, your boss or customers?
+ Do you find yourself tired, both physically and mentally?
+ Are you having frequent headaches, backaches, eye strain, or neck pain?
+ Having problems sleeping, either falling asleep or frequently waking up?
+ Are you having trouble eating – either too much, reaching for foods with sugar, or not eating a lot due to an anxious stomach?
+ Do you have racing thoughts that seem to permeate areas of your day?
+ Are you feel anxious during the day, or worry about the future? Have heart palpitations or chest pain?
If you answered yes to these, you’re not alone. You are experiencing the effects of stress and may be on the downhill slide to burnout.
You may not be aware of the severity of these symptoms as you may ignore them or attribute them to some external factor. But they can creep on your slowly, taking its toll on your physical and emotional health. Others may not understand what you are going through, as burnout is extremely personal in nature – you are having the crisis, not them.
There are emotional and physical symptoms associated with what you are going through.
Emotional symptoms of stress at work…
The emotional symptoms usually show up as the first sign of burn out. You may often feel an unrelenting stress, lack enthusiasm, have a sense of loss of control as well as experience an unexplainable grief.
You may want to blame those around you for the way you feel, but this rarely resolves the inner turmoil that you are experiencing.
In severe cases of work stress, many people experience a sense of total detachment and wanting to escape the situation; the more they have these thoughts, the more detached and shut down they can become.
This feeling often results in a loss of productivity and creativity. It also fuels negativity and cynicism, with a quickness to get angry and blame others. Over time you may find solace in detaching yourself from others by isolating from your team members; however this will not resolve the issue.
One of the biggest effects of prolonged stress is feelings of guilt and shame – this list could go on, but many feel guilty for not working as hard or contributing as their teammates, or just for not being ‘strong enough.’ These types of thoughts and feelings only add to one’s stress level, which the spiral down continues.
Physical Symptoms that accompany job stress…
Work stress also affects your body. The feeling of “never being able to do enough” may drive you to work extensively long hours in an effort to catch up.
Physical exhaustion may take the form of headaches, physical shaking from head to foot, inability to think clearly and being unable to relax. Pain can show up in other parts of your body, such as you neck, eyes, hips – we each hold stress in differently. You might find your hair falling out and you are more susceptible to colds and illness due to your immune system being compromised.
Physical exhaustion also causes you to lose your natural communication ability, so communication between your spouse and children, your boss or co-workers may sometimes become explosive; you might have the opposite effect with withdrawal behaviors – not speaking up, being overly agreeable despite not wanting to.
There is also the possibility of experiencing gastrointestinal problems; you may find comfort in food or alcohol as a way to cope, or you may feel an aversion to food due to a ‘nervous’ stomach.
Is there a solution?
Yes there is. You need to gather information and make a lifestyle change. Making the determination to deal with stress is the first step. Understanding the concept of stress, such as through the American Institute of Stress (http://www.Stress.org) will help as awareness is the key.
Another step is to be more aware of the symptoms you are experiencing, i.e. know your body. Begin to notice when you have aches and pains, when your routine veers from its normal, when you detach or become aggressive in your behaviors towards others – this is when you, then, are able to stop the feelings and learn to use good coping skills that will lesson stress and its effects.
Stress can be managed but, if you’ve been under its effects for a while, it can take time to begin to feel more relaxed and able to handle your job. Write down you stressors to see how you can go about managing them so you can enjoy your work again.
If you are having difficulty with workplace stress, reach out to get help as we have programs that can help you and your team survive and thrive so their performance, productivity, and satisfaction are at their highest. Help is available – just reach out.