There are a number of factors that cause work-related stress, including:
- poor working conditions, such as noise or bad lighting
- long working hours
- relationships with colleagues
- having too much or too little to do
- lack of control in the working environment
- not feeling valued for the work you do
- bullying at work
- being under pressure to meet deadlines
You may feel stressed if you're in the wrong job for your skills, abilities and expectations. Sometimes there is no single cause of work-related stress. It can be caused by a build-up of small things over time.
Work-related stress can cause psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural problems. Because everyone reacts to stress in different ways depending on their personality and how they respond to pressure, symptoms may vary. However, some common psychological symptoms include:
- feeling that you can't cope
- being unable to concentrate
- lacking confidence
- a loss of motivation and commitment
- disappointment with yourself
You might also have emotional symptoms, such as:
- negative or depressive feelings
- increased emotional reactions (for example, you're tearful or sensitive)
- irritability or having a short temper
- feeling overwhelmed
- mood swings
You may also get physical symptoms. These may include:
- diarrhoea or constipation
- weight changes
- chest pains
- joint or back pain
Your behaviour might also change and may include:
- eating more or less
- sleeping too much or too little
- isolating yourself from others
- drinking alcohol, smoking or taking illegal drugs to relax
These symptoms and signs may be caused by problems other than work-related stress. If you have any of these symptoms and signs, see a doctor for advice.
To be able to tackle work-related stress, it's important to recognise the symptoms or any changes in your behaviour. The sooner you realise that it's causing you problems, the sooner you can take action to make things better.
Remember that some days will be more stressful than others so it's important not to overreact to small changes in your behaviour. However, if you feel stressed over a long period of time or any changes in your behaviour continue, you should seek help.
Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or your company for help or advice if you're feeling stressed because of work. You may have a human resources department at work that can help.
Your doctor will usually be able to recognise the symptoms of stress and give you advice about how to deal with it. Your doctor can also refer you to a counsellor if you need one.
- Make your working environment as comfortable to work in as you can. If it isn't, ask for help from the relevant person at work.
- Try to develop good relationships with your colleagues – this can help to create a support network at work.
- Learn to say no if you can't take on extra work or responsibility – make sure you're able to explain why.
- Take a walk or get some fresh air during the day – exercise and daylight are good for both your mental and physical health.
- Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, and drink enough water.
- Try not to drink too much alcohol – drinking too much is likely to make you feel worse and more stressed in the long run.
- Work regular hours and take the breaks and holidays you're entitled to – it's important to take time off work.
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Don't neglect your family or relationships outside of work.
This information was published by Bupa Group's Health Content Team and has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. To the best of their knowledge the information is current and based on reputable sources of medical evidence, however Bupa (Asia) Limited makes no representation or warranty as to the completeness or accuracy of the Content.
The information on this page, and any information on third party websites referred to on this page, is provided as a guide only. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Bupa (Asia) Limited is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of, or reliance on, the information.
Third party websites are not owned or controlled by Bupa and any individual may be able to access and post messages on them. Bupa is not responsible for the content or availability of these third party websites. Last updated August 2017.
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