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Coping with Work StressToday, work is more stressful than ever.  Jobs are harder to find – it seems like everyone knows someone who has been searching for a job for months.  We all live in fear of “budget cuts.”  And, we all have to produce more with less.  Pile on the stress! To make matters worse, in addition to the physical and emotional toll it takes, stress actually decreases your job performance.  Job stress has become a common and costly problem. For example, studies report the following:

  • One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. – Northwestern National Life
  • Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago Princeton Survey Research Associates
  • Stressful work environments increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders,  mental health problems, and workplace injury – Encyclopedia of Occupational Safety and Health
  • Stressful working conditions are actually associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs – Journal of Applied Psychology

We know that stress is a problem and that work is stressful.  It’s time to learn how to deal with workplace stress and be happy.  So, how do we do that? In Part 1, we will focus on learning to recognize work-place stress and how it impacts you.  In Part 2, we will move on to changing some of the factors that contribute to that stress.  Part 3 looks at managing conflict at work and we wrap it all up in Part 4.

Part 1: Identifying Work Stress

The first step to coping with work stress is to understand what it looks like and what it does.  Learn to recognize the warning signs.  Identifying the early signs of a problem allows you to prevent escalation. 

Once you understand and can identify work stress, it’s time to take a closer look at YOUR stressors.  Here are a couple of terrific worksheets to help you tune in to your own emotional state at work and to identify your work stress triggers:

  • Emotional Check-In:  Here’s a great exercise to help you become aware of your internal state.  It will help you learn to notice those early warning signs of stress overload.
  • Identifying Work Stress Triggers:  Use this little tool to identify those times and situations that cause you to stress out. 

Use both of these worksheets for the next week to get a good handle on your own work stress situation.  In Part 2 we will start working on getting that stress load under control!