Workplace stress derives from many sources. lt can be a demanding boss, annoying co-workers, rebellious students, angry customers, hazardous conditions, long commutes and a never-ending workload. Your work performance is also affected by stressors such as family relationships, finances and a lack of sleep stemming from fears and anxieties about the future. How you handle the effects of stress depends on whether it is easier to change the situation or change your attitude toward it.
The positive side of stress is that it can jump-start your adrenalin and motivate you to perform your tasks more quickly in response to impending deadlines. An overwhelming workload, lack of peer support and too many demands at once, however, contribute to a sense of frustration and panic that there isn’t enough time to complete the work. According to the authors of “Performance Under Pressure: Managing Stress in the Workplace,” if these conditions routinely result in overtime or having to take work home, the stress of being unable to manage time efficiently can fuel employees’ resentment toward the company as well as negatively influence their commitment and loyalty.
Stress is a major contributor to job burn-out and strained interactions with peers and supervisors, says Bob Losvyk, author of “Get a Grip!: Overcoming Stress and Thriving in the Workplace.” The combined feelings of helplessness and hopelessness generate heightened sensitivities to any and all forms of criticism, defensiveness, depression, paranoia about job security, jealousy and resentment toward co-workers who seem to have everything under control, short-fuse tempers, diminished self-esteem and withdrawal.
Stress affects your ability to remember things you already know, to process new information you are learning and to apply both to analytical situations and physicaltasks that require concentration. When you are mentally exhausted from all of the worries, anxieties and tension brought on by a stressful environment or lifestyle, you are more easily distracted and prone to make costly, harmful or even fatal mistakes on the job.
ln addition to headaches, sleep disorders, vision problems, weight loss/gain and blood pressure, stress affects cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems, says Richard Weinstein, author of “The Stress Effect.” lf you’re not feeling well, you’re not going to do your best work. Further, the amount of sick leave taken to rest and recuperate from stress-related illnesses often means that the work only accumulates during your absence and, thus, generates even more stress about how to catch up once you return.