Read up on the most common causes of stress at work and discover simple strategies for managing work anxiety and preventing burnout.
Our bodies and minds are designed to perform under stress to some degree. However, prolonged stress can take its toll and lead to anxiety. Work anxiety is a big issue and understanding how you can deal with anxiety in healthy ways is your key to dealing with stress at work. Four in five office workers experience burn out, so it's important to equip yourself with strategies to deal with anxiety and stress in the workplace. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common stressful situations you may deal with at work and help you find simple steps you can take to cope with them.
This may come as a surprise, but a little stress can sometimes be good. How you may ask? Researchers found that, brief periods of stress can be beneficial. Short bursts of stress can help with attention by keeping people focused and motivated. It can help you adapt to situations quickly and even boost memory. As an office manager, some stress can help push you to perform in new and better ways. However, it's no surprise that too much stress for too long can become problematic.
Anxiety often hinders workers’ productivity and engagement. A surprising 94% of American workers report they have experienced stress at work. It causes about one million people to miss work each day. However, stress, including anxiety at work, has various detrimental symptoms. These symptoms include headaches, insomnia, raised blood pressure, depression, stomach complaints, difficulties concentrating or poor memory and learning coping strategies before stress gets out of hand is key here.
Work anxiety has a negative impact not just on a personal level, but on a company level as well. Some of the most common signs of a stressful work environment include:
● Absenteeism: Stress is frequently reported as being the main reason for sickness absence.
● Labor turnover and retention: Stressed employees are more likely to resign, especially if they find a position with less stress.
● Performance and productivity: Stressed employees display reduced productivity and poor performance.
● Low morale and poor motivation: Stressed employees are less engaged in their work and less productive.
● Increased employee complaints: Employees who experience stress tend to log more complaints to coworkers, family and friends.
● Increased numbers of accidents or incidents: Highly stressed workers run the risk of memory loss and issues with concentration, resulting in a higher number of workplace accidents than workers with lower levels of stress.
Other effects of work anxiety are harder to measure. For example, many employees don’t know how to use positive stress management activities, instead, choosing unhealthy ways of handling stress which also limits someone at work. They may hold back on travel opportunities or public speaking. It may also prevent an employee getting involved in the full social and collaborative life of work, such as office parties and events.
According to the World Health Organization, stress can be split into two types: work contents and work context.
Work contents include factors such as the nature of the job, work load, hours, control and participation. Work context includes factors such as pay, development, relationships, culture, leadership and work-life balance. For office managers, there are some common areas causing stress in the workplace. Let’s explore them and look at some healthy stress management activities for each one.
Office managers are expert multitaskers and typically fall into the cohort of Americans that work more hours than many other nations. This combination of a multi-dimensional role, long hours and and the inability to unplug from your devices can be a recipe for stress. As an office manager, you probably have too many tabs open and running at the same time, both on your computer screen and in your mind.
The good news? There are a few different strategies you can use to help ease the work anxiety that comes with heavy workloads, including:
As an office manager, you’ve most likely experienced the stress of unrealistic deadlines or expectations and that’s no surprise. According to the WHO, “stress is particularly common in situations when employees are asked to do things that exceed their knowledge, abilities and coping skills.”
Try these strategies to help with the stress of work expectations:
Remember that your manager is unlikely to intentionally be making life hard for you. You’re on the same side! It is more likely that they don’t realize the other pressures and demands on your time. So make sure to over-communicate and work together.
We don’t generally choose our coworkers, yet we spend more time with the people we work with than our own friends and family! Typically, as an office manager, you're responsible to facilitating communication across all departments and are one of the only people who gets to work with every type of personality in your office. As a result, managing relationships can sometimes be a challenge, especially when it comes to working with positions both up and down the seniority ladder. Conflicts in the workplace can be a real cause of anxiety at work, especially if these difficulties tip over in to bullying or harassment.
Next time you find yourself facing a conflict or miscommunication at work, see if you can pull on some of these tips:
A negative work environment, in terms of the physical space you work in, can contribute to higher levels of work anxiety. Research has revealed that noise levels, access to natural light, ergonomics, and even cleanliness all contribute directly to an employee’s level of stress. If, for example, your office has poor ventilation, then your team may be at risk of developing the “sick building syndrome” and believe us when we say - it is a real thing! Symptoms include headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and even flu-like symptoms.
As an office manager, there are things you can do impact on the physical experience of your office, including:
The average American commutes 50 minutes each day, which can be stressful regardless of the type of transportation you use. Combined with the unpredictability of the road ahead (pun intended), the anxiety of being late to work can impact your mood from the start of your day. Research has shown that a 20 minute decrease in commute times has the same effect on happiness as receiving a 19% raise.
In most cases shortening your commute is probably not an option, but there are some things you can do to make it more enjoyable:
It's important to remember - you can't control your surrounding, but you can manage your personal reactions to things. And in order to benefit your wellbeing and work performance, you have to equip yourself with the tools for dealing with stress. The above strategies are designed to get you started in the most common areas that office managers experience stress.
In addition, in all areas where you experience stress, a simple strategy which can be used is to talk. By sharing your work anxiety with others you can receive support, fresh perspective and encouragement. The ADAA recommends talking to a trusted coworker. You can also share with other office managers and admins through social groups and forums. It may be beneficial to seek professional help and that's totally okay! There are a number of resources available online that won't cost a fortune.
So take a deep breath, fill up a cup of tea and remind yourself - you got this!
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