Workplace stress may sound a bit like an oxymoron; work is meant to be stressful, or else it would not be work, right? While work can be stressful depending on the field you are employed in and the given day, work should not be stressful every single day that you are employed. Stress has a myriad of effects on our bodies; evolutionarily, stress was designed to help us survive in dangerous situations or situations which needed our absolute focus. The human body is not designed to sustain itself under constant stress without end and if it is exposed to stress constantly, regardless of reason, it can be detrimental to your health. Just a few signs of harmful stress are fatigue, issues sleeping, headaches, and increased blood pressure.

While it can be tough to turn off, especially in today’s world, it’s important to establish strong and simple boundaries. If the hours are not described in your contract or you are not working overtime or on call, then you do not have to be available. Simply knowing that you are not working and can truly relax and unwind can help. In that time, where you know you can truly relax, it’s encouraged that you do take that time to properly recharge. Some recommended ways to recharge after a stressful time is some form of meditation, journaling to allow yourself space to process and talk about what’s been happening in your life, and indulging in hobbies or recreational activities you may have been putting off because of a lack of mood, time, or energy.

Sometimes, one of the better ways to manage stress is to try to reduce what is causing you stress. In the working world, this can take the shape of talking to supervisors about your workload and potential ways to manage or lesson it. Sometimes, there is simply too much work for one person, or you cannot, for one reason or another, manage the work you’ve been given. When you feel yourself hurting increasingly often, it’s important to reach out to your supervisor or HR department for help, but that can be a very daunting conversation to think about let alone have. Thus, here are some tips on how to begin a conversation;

  • Reduce Negative Self-Talk: It can be very scary to ask for help to begin with, and there is an extra layer of your boss being in a position of power over you. You may not be comfortable asking or think that your issue is small, but more likely than not your boss may have already noticed your change in behavior, or they are not aware of how much work is affecting you. It can be helpful to remember that it’s difficult for someone to help if they are not aware of it and it’s likely that your boss may have been in a comparable situation before.
  • Be Specific but Tactful and Come with Solutions: It’s important to approach a conversation on your stress to address a problem, not a time to complain or vent. Depending on the given field, there may be many different tasks your supervisor manages, and they may not know details of what is on your plate in the wider scheme of things. Once you contextualize the amount of work, be specific about what you are struggling with and offer potential solutions, if you happen to have any.

Depending on how that conversation goes, you may find your workload lighter, or you may have more direction and support than before. Whatever the case may be, ensuring you are listening to your body and mind when you feel stressed is integral to healthy living and avoiding burnout at the workplace and in life.

By, Jessica Senney, MHC intern