Work stress has become one of the most important phenomena of the work environment and organizations in recent decades, especially after the economic crisis that has significantly affected developed countries. 

The cuts in personnel, the low expectations of development within companies, the socioeconomic changes and the difficulties of reconciling personal life with work, among other reasons, have contributed to the well-being of workers has been significantly affected .

This has meant that many investigations in the field of organizational psychology have focused on this line of work, and thanks to this, much progress has been made in understanding why this phenomenon occurs and what can be done to prevent and reduce it .

Work stress: a multifactorial phenomenon

Stress is a multifactorial phenomenon that has its origin not only in the factors of the job(excessive tasks, monotony, etc.), but there are many causes that can cause its appearance.

Organizational factors also influence the onset and development of stress. Some examples are: leadership styles of superiors, organizational communication, promotion possibilities within the company, human resources policies of companies or the relationship with coworkers.

This last point is especially important, since social support can not only become a stressor, but can act as a buffer. In other words, when stress has occurred, the relationship with co-workers can reduce the impact of stress on an individual.

Stress at work as a collective phenomenon

Studies have also provided evidence that social factors (economic crisis, cultural expectations, etc.) and extra-organizational elements (for example, the bad relationship with the couple or economic problems at home) function as stressors and, for Therefore, they can contribute to stress manifesting in the workplace.

Recently, some authors such as José Mª Peiró affirm that stress occurs at various levels and that a collective analysis of this phenomenon is essential , otherwise it is impossible to prevent and control it. People, when working in groups, share emotional experiences, and both these emotional experiences and stress experiences can be spread. The shared expression of these emotions is called “affective tone” or “emotional climate.”

The role of the individual in coping with stress

However, without neglecting this trans-level and collective vision of stress, it is also important the role of the individual in coping with stress, which after all is the one who suffers the negative consequences and experiences the symptoms and consequences of this phenomenon.

The mismatch between existing demands and the person’s control to meet those demands is decisive so that stress does not occur. Likewise, the individual can adopt a series of habits to prevent stress and combat discomfort when it is present.


Work stress can alter our lives significantly and affect our thinking and behavior, causing physiological, physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral reactions. These are some of the most common signs :

  • Accelerated heart rate and tachycardias
  • Dizziness, nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension and contractures
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Concentration problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bad mood
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Increase in the consumption of psychoactive substances (tobacco, alcohol, etc.)

Some tips to reduce stress

If you think you are going through this situation, it is important to take measures in this regard to avoid becoming chronic and display the  burnout or burnout (chronic job stress) syndrome.

Below you can find some tips that will help you reduce the characteristic symptoms of this phenomenon and improve your mental well-being:

1. Seek support from friends or family

If you are going through a work-related stress situation, the first thing you should do is seek close support to be able to share your experience . Whether it’s a co-worker, a friend or a family member, talking with someone else will help you feel less alone.

It is also important that you understand that work stress occurs many times for reasons beyond your control, so if the stressor is in a bad organizational structure or in personnel cuts policies(in which tasks among workers are poorly distributed ) Little will you be able to do it to change it yourself. In these cases it is better to talk with your superior so that from the company you can take socks. Of course, as long as there is a good relationship with your boss.

2. Evaluate your interests, abilities and passions

It may happen that work stress is the result of your professional profile, in which the skills you have do not fit with the workplace where you are (due to a bad personnel selection process). 

For example, there are people who are passionate about working as a commercial, because they like to have to negotiate and be talking to people constantly. However, there are other individuals who are made to work in front of a computer, since they are motivated by administrative work and have a series of skills and training that make them perform well in that job. When a person does not enjoy his work or the work he does, he can be stressed.

To avoid this situation it is necessary to carry out an honest evaluation to say whether or not you should look for an alternative job, one that is less demanding or that best suits your interests or abilities. This decision can be easy for us, so you may have to do a Life Coaching session (or life coaching) to help you decide the path that best fits you.

3. Disconnect from work

Work is necessary for our life and is essential for well-being, but some people become addicted to work and they themselves are the cause of their stress situation. If you are one of those individuals who are always on the phone for work issues or when you finish your workday you take your work home, you should seriously consider taking a break. Rest is synonymous with well-being, and therefore work should not compromise your psychological health. Stop the work if you smell sewer gas in your laundry room.

4. Exercise

Rest is important, but so is having healthy habits. There are many people who exercise when they leave work because it helps them to disconnect. There is nothing better than going to spin class or playing a paddle game to release tension and clear the mind after a long working day. Scientific studies have shown that physical exercise reduces cortisol levels  (which is the stress-related hormone), increases the production of norepinephrine (norepinephrine), a neurotransmitter that can moderate the brain’s response to stress, and produces endorphins or  serotonin , which help improve mood .

5. Manage time

Bad time management is one of the most common causes of stress. For example, getting distracted by the computer, or not having planned the time of the task you have to do, can end up taking on many tasks at the same time or not completing any. Therefore, a correct organization of time is one of the best strategies to prevent stress.

Unfortunately, we cannot choose between saving or spending time , and then we must find a way to use it more effectively. We all have in common that the day lasts 24 hours, but how we manage our time depends solely and exclusively on each person. If you want to learn how to organize your time to prevent stress at work, there are many courses that will help you manage it more effectively.

6. Sleep well

While it is true that stress can cause sleep problems, lack of sleep can interfere with productivity , creativity, problem solving skills and ability to concentrate. The more rested a person is, the more capable he will be to cope with his job responsibilities and the more prepared he will be to cope with stress in the workplace.

7. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness (or Full Attention) can be considered a philosophy of life that helps to cope with experiences in a more adaptive and healthy way. Thanks to meditation and other techniques, the person who practices Mindfulness manages to develop the ability to be conscious, compassionate and to be in the here and now with a nonjudgmental mindset.

There are different programs that help to develop Full Care such as the MSBR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program) that lasts 8 weeks and that, according to different research, improves the quality of life of the people who try it.

8. Go to psychological therapy

People can go through different stress situations throughout our lives and one of the most important sources is related to work. Many times the work in a company is subject to conditions, forms of organization and requirements that are not determined by our capabilities, needs or expectations. For example, technology, productive demands or poor design of the organization, which undervalues ​​the importance of the company’s human resources .

People have a great capacity for adaptation, but sometimes the demands of work force us to make an excessive effort that can cause adaptive problems. 

Importantly, in the same workplace, with the same conditions, not everyone reacts to stress in the same way: some individuals may suffer more from this situation than others. This is because each person has a different ability to adapt depending on different reasons (personal variables, job skills, expectations about the job, problem solving skills, etc.).

Psychological therapy becomes a good alternative to alleviate this situation, because it helps to develop a series of strategies and skills so that we can control the experiences and consequences that work stress produces. In this way, one is more prepared to face the requirements of the job and reduces discomfort more significantly.