Workplace stress is highly personal. Some people thrive in fast-paced jobs (think emergency room nurses, police officers, and air-traffic controllers) where making a mistake can put people’s lives at risk.
But just because the rest of us wouldn’t last a day in such high-pressure environments doesn’t mean our jobs are less stressful. Short deadlines, endless paperwork, the occasional angry customer, and meetings that drag on for hours, putting us even further behind, all can cause stress.
In other words, it’s not the job that creates stress, it’s the way a person responds to the pressures and demands of each workplace that makes him or her stressed or come to live.
Not surprisingly, people respond to stress differently. The way they respond depends on their personality and the culture of their workplace.
Short-term effects of stress include headaches, shallow breathing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and upset stomach. Long-term constant stress can increase the risk for heart disease, back pain, depression, lasting muscle aches and pains, and a weakened immune system.
Stress also can affect your mind by impairing concentration and imagination. Stress also increases the chance you’ll make mistakes because you’re not thinking clearly.
Constant stress can affect your emotions and behavior by making you grouchy, impatient, less excited about your job, and even depressed.
What to Do About Work-Related Stress
When you’re in a high-pressure situation, examine your train of thought to see if it’s adding to the stress you feel.
Are you imagining a far worse outcome than is likely? Is the project or situation likely to affect your job approval, reputation, or income? Are you really out of your league or are the immediate demands really more of a challenge than a disaster in the making?
Manage your time
Proper time and priority management can reduce a lot of workplace stress.
Start each day by making a to-do list of tasks, calls to make, and e-mails to write. Prioritize the list according to tasks you must do, those you would like to do, and those that can wait. Don’t schedule too much. And build in time for interruptions.