Work-Related Stress: The Other Pandemic

Work-Related Stress: The Other Pandemic

Have you been feeling a little more stressed lately? Who could blame you, you’re only surviving a global pandemic and doing your best from day-to-day to navigate challenges that are totally foreign to you! While the coronavirus may be the star of pandemic coverage, there is a second problem that has been steadily rising in COVID-19’s shadow. We’re talking about work-related stress.

Work-Related Stress: A Common Problem

The number of Americans who are stressed at work is high and skyrocketing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as much as 40% of Americans report being “extremely stressed at work.” When you add that to the 80% of Americans that generally identify their job as stressful, a clear picture of stress in the workplace begins to come together.

Between heavy workloads, performance related pressure, job insecurity, and conflicts with coworkers and managers there are plenty of common job stressors to choose from (and a few more, once you throw in the current pandemic). As with every type of chronic stress, prolonged work-related stress can have significant health consequences from an increased likelihood of getting a cold or the flu to serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression or physical ailments like heart disease.

The Workplace Has Evolved, So Has The Stress

The coronavirus pandemic turned our world upside down. Many of us are living and working in a very different environment than we were a year ago. In fact, 70% of Americans have reported that work during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most stressful point of their careers. The pandemic has introduced an array of stress factors that go beyond the usual workplace concerns.  Increased financial anxiety, fears surrounding  health and the health of family, and total upheaval of their mental and physical wellness can compound  the everyday stressors of employees’ professional lives.

Work-related stress has evolved alongside our “new normal.” Many employees are working remotely for the first time and suffering from feelings of isolation and a lack of connection, as well as detrimental disruptions to their personal life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided extensive resources around coping with job stress in association with the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the symptoms of burnout, learning about how stress is impacting you specifically, and building a comprehensive strategy for management is key to maintaining your work-related wellness.

The Importance of Managing Work-Related Stress

It’s simply the reality that picking up and changing jobs, as a means of responding to work-related stress, just isn’t practical. It’s impossible to avoid work-related stress entirely so we must look for the next best solution: managing that stress. Creating a great strategy for managing work-related stress starts with two particular approaches.

Work-related stress is incredibly common and for good reason. From coworker conflicts to massive workloads, there are plenty of opportunities for  work to become a source of stress. Some stress management tips can be universally applied to any work environment like making your workspace a comfortable place where it’s easy for you to focus, or the importance of staying organized in your approach to tasks. Burnout, in particular, has seen a huge uptick during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Did you know that one of the leading causes for burnout and work-related stress is a lack of clarity? When we’re unsure of what a task or project requires of us, we tend to stress more over smaller details and get lost in a hectic haze. Remember to take a pause and make sure you understand what’s needed before diving into a project.

Since many of us are working from home, the balance part of “work-life balance” is becoming little less clear. Some studies on remote workers have shown that the amount of time spent working is going up but productivity levels are taking a nose dive. A big part of this stems from burnout associated with always feeling “on call” when working from home. It’s especially important when working from home to compartmentalize your time and differentiate between work and life outside the “office.” Having a consistent daily routine is highly recommended to help you maintain a feeling of control and set healthy boundaries.

The most important coping tool for stress is communication. Share what you’re feeling with others so that you can get the help that you need. Take every opportunity to practice wellness through little things that are within your control, like getting outside for a little while or limiting the amount of time you spend on social media or watching the news.

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