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Work Stresses

Definition of work stress

The U.S Department of Health has defined Job Stress as:

"...the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of a job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker".

Under this definition it is clear that you can be stressed at work, not just if you are not fully able or trained to do a job, but also if the nature of the job is such that it does not meet your emotional or psychological needs. Clearly, if specific high demands are also being placed on you this can lead to considerable pressure and stress.

Factors leading to work stress

The following factors, amongst others, can lead to work stress:

  • Heavy workload
  • Having little control or influence in decisions
  • Tension or conflict with other employees 
  • Poor supervision or management
  • Lack of belief in the objectives of the organisation
  • Job insecurity or lack of opportunity to develop
  • Lack of interest or fulfilment in the nature of the work
  • Unpleasant or dangerous work environments

Dealing with work stress

Studies suggest that work stress can increase your risk for heart disease, psychological disorders and other health problems. Early warning sign of potential health risks can include headaches, disturbed sleep and difficulty in concentrating. If you are experiencing any of these signs to a significant degree you should consider consulting your doctor or obtaining suitable independent advice/support. Here are some of the things that you might focus on with or without support:

  • Exploring options in your work situation for improving it
  • Generating and exploring options to move out of the work situation if that seems appropriate
  • Getting in control of workload and helping to manage time effectively if that is an issue
  • Dealing with specific situations that are causing you stress - for example, using an effective cognitive behavioural coaching model .
  • Examining and addressing your own negative thought patterns or anxieties if these are holding you back.


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