Work Stress: How To Avoid Negative Effects on Mental Health

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Work Stress How To Avoid Negative Effects on Mental Health

For a modern person, work is both the main meaning of life and the main source of stress. High competition in the labor market, unstable economic situation, and the need for constant professional development – all encourage employees to constantly improve themselves.

Not everyone loves their job or has the opportunity to work by vocation. However, even favorite work can lead to professional burnout. It is characterized by a loss of interest in daily work activities and indifference to the performance of duties.

The UN considers stress in the workplace to be the “plague of the 21st century”. According to insurance companies, one-third of employees have at least once thought of quitting their jobs solely because of stress.

Stress is a reaction of the human body that occurs in response to a stimulus. When a person is constantly exposed to stressful situations, his or her body wastes energy. This leads to rapid exhaustion (burnout).

Main Causes of Stress at Work

It is at work that adults spend most of their time. Many are forced to overwork or work on weekends. The main causes of stress at work – the discrepancy between the level of salary and the volume of duties performed, too much workload, conflicts with management or colleagues.

Too little workload can cause negative emotions as well as too much. The employee has a feeling of his own needlessness, unclaimedness, and meaninglessness of actions. Moreover, they will also be the causes of professional burnout.

Another problem that leads to stress in the workplace is a lack of interest in work. Unfortunately, not everyone can work by vocation. For example, many representatives of creative professions are forced to accept a stable job from 9.00 to 18.00 because of the lack of a solid income or social guarantees. Over time, uninteresting work begins to cause boredom, the desire to delay the task for a longer period of time, or to spend working hours in the “smoking room” or talking with colleagues. However, even in the absence of interest, a worker can demonstrate good performance indicators. To identify this in time, it is important to use AI in recruiting so that you can see the candidate’s interest and analyze their performance.

In some cases, stress at work is caused not by the employee’s laziness or lack of interest in his duties, but by incorrect organization of work in the company. This is what most often leads to overwork and all sorts of conflicts in the team. But even if the work causes only positive emotions, the employee is not immune to professional burnout.

Methods to Manage Stress

There are three approaches to dealing with stress.

The first approach is based on working with external stressors. Its essence is simple – remove external stimuli, if you have such an opportunity. Disconnect. Stop being a slave to your phone or laptop when you’re not at work. Don’t watch or listen to things that make you feel uncomfortable. Learn how to delegate tasks tasks to coworkers, and offload yourself. Plan your workday and alternate intense work with adequate rest.

The second approach is based on feeding your inner resources – physical and emotional. Evolution has made it so that positive emotions are always short-lived, but negative emotions become chronic. The brain studies the dangers with great predilection, so as not to miss a real threat to life. The physical and emotional state extends to all systems. So you need a boost: look for sources of energy, increase dopamine, decrease cortisol, get your body interested in working and increasing strength, not freezing.

The third approach to dealing with stress is to work with one’s thinking (perception of oneself, others, and what is happening). The stoic philosopher Epictetus said: “It is not things that torment people, but their perceptions of them”. In reality, we simply resist what is happening and get nervous about it.

To manage your attitude to what is happening, and therefore your state of mind, develop emotional intelligence (EI). This is a person’s ability to recognize emotions, understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of others and their own, and manage their own and others’ emotions to solve practical problems.

There are some additional tips to avoid work stress and burnout at bay.

3 Tips to Avoid a Burnout

Set the Right Goals

To avoid stress, formulate your ultimate desired goals based only on what is completely within your control. If we set goals to achieve results where nothing depends on it, the reptilian brain gets spooked, and anxiety and fear arise. We lose the creative agenda and switch to survival mode.

Example: a student sets the goal of getting an A on an exam. This goal is not within his control. But what is in his control? To prepare to the best of his ability, to get the best sleep, to look good, to work through to the end with the ticket that fell out, and to communicate respectfully and cooperatively with the instructor. These goals are not scary. If the student accomplishes them, he or she will have done the most he or she can.

Goals where other people are involved are not really goals but desires. Emotions can be a direct threat to our lives. This is demonstrated by a striking experiment by the medieval scholar Ibn Sina: he put a wolf and a lamb in two different cages opposite each other. In just a few days, the lamb became very ill from the constant stress caused by the sense of danger and died, although it had food in the cage and was young and healthy.

Put Meaning Into Your Work

Consider how customer effort score tools can enhance the value you create for internal or external customers, for yourself, and for others. If you have an answer to this question, you will do your work with more enthusiasm.Look for projects to your liking or look for meaningful goals and value points in “seemingly unlikely” projects. This increases interest in life and avoids aimless running around in circles, which is not far from stress and burnout.

Strive for Growth and Development

Every living being tends to grow and develop or stagnate and wither. If the former is not present, the latter is assured. Growth and development is broader than career advancement. It can be the improvement of some ability, skill, or competence. Fostering a growth mindset can be the game-changer in this journey, pushing you to embrace challenges and learn continuously. Development can include mastering something completely new: an unusual approach to delegation, a modern method of management, or specific skills in professional activities.

What will you master in the coming year? What will you learn this month? What new things will you try in your daily work? Try to shift your focus from routine tasks to growth and development. Stop being a soldier fighting for KPIs and turn into an inquisitive explorer. Then the surprises you encounter will no longer be a cause of frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, and stress. You will see them as a reason to improve your skills.

As combat training instructors say, “In a critical situation, you won’t rise to the level of your expectations, you’ll fall to the level of your training.”

Improve your training. And never compare yourself to others – it’s a sure way to lose your own frame of reference.

To Sum Up, work is the most important part of a modern person’s life. However, even the favorite work by vocation leads to fatigue. Therefore, from time to time a person needs to switch to something else and distract himself from thoughts about work to avoid unpleasant consequences for physical and mental health.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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