Stress in the workplace is a serious health problem, according to medical researchers. It is estimated that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for complaints and conditions that are, in some way, stress-related. Every week over 200 million people take some form of medication for stress-related symptoms. It does not matter if you are a vice president, a secretary, a data entry clerk or even the CEO of the company. Stress does not discriminate, and can strike anyone on the job.
A survey by Northwestern National Life Insurance Company found that twice as many workers today consider their jobs “highly stressed” compared with workers in the 90s. The survey also found that about one third of respondents seriously consider leaving their jobs because they feel their jobs are too stressful. About one out of every seven workers will actually quit to escape the stress.
The official definition of stress is “a condition that occurs in response to actual or anticipated difficulties in life.” Stress at home is difficult enough to work through, but for millions of people who find their source of stress is at work, life can be a real nightmare.
Many people complain that their jobs are too stressful, and that stress, if left untreated, can lead to a wide range of medical problems, including high blood pressure, sleep disorders, back pain and more. In addition, stress can play a role in circulatory diseases such as coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death and strokes. Stress can increase your blood pressure, constrict your blood vessels, raise your cholesterol level, trigger arrhythmias, and speed up the rate at which your blood clots.
If you are feeling stressed on the job, keep these tips in mind:
• Get enough sleep – Studies show that lack of sleep can contribute to stress. You will feel better on the job if you are not tired and exhausted.
• Eat your breakfast – Even if you have to get up fifteen minutes earlier, it is important to eat something nutritious in the morning.
• Get some exercise – The next time you are feeling stressed during the day, take a few moments and “get moving.” Do a few jumping jacks, walk around the block, try doing a few arm and leg stretches, and within a few minutes that stressful feeling will start fading.
• Focus on a positive attitude – Your attitude is your most prized possession, and is something that you and only you own and control. No one can take it away from you. Keep a positive attitude, and you will be helping to keep stress out of your life.
• Don’t sweat the small stuff – Learn what is important in your life and let the rest of the problems fade away.
• Learn how to relax – Take a deep breath and let go of the tension. Read a book, watch a funny movie or go for a quiet walk. You will soon discover that your stressful problems are a thing of the past.
• Avoid stressful situations – Don’t get caught up in other people’s problems and stressful situations. You have enough of your own stressful times to deal with.
• Learn how to manage your time – Many people are stressed because they have trouble completing tasks on time. Look at your schedule, and set your priorities.
• Learn how to deal with conflicts – When dealing with a difficult situation, keep your cool. When tensions are elevated, stress results.
• Learn to eat healthy – Stop eating junk food for meals and snacks, and start eating healthy. Your body will cope with stress a lot easier. Reach for a piece of fruit instead of that bag of chips.
• Learn how to express your emotions – Talking to a friend or a co-worker about your feelings is a great way to combat stress. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up.
For more information:
Howard K. Weissman, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, board certified expert in traumatic stress and is the clinical director and founder of The Chicago Stress Relief Center, Inc. in Northbrook, Illinois. You may contact Dr. Weissman at 847-412-0922 or at www.stressreliefcenter.com.