Stress management in workstations

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By: Ishtiyaq Bhat

Stress is defined in terms of its physical and physiological effects on a person, and can be a mental, physical, or emotional strain. Job stress can result from interactions between the worker and the conditions of the work. This can include factors such as long work hours and an employee’s status in the organization. Stress can’t be entirely eliminated, and a healthy amount of stress leads to productivity and creativity.

But there’s a fine line and when employees become overly stressed, it takes a toll on both them personally and the overall health of the organization. To ensure have happy, healthy, and engaged employees, stress management in the workplace is a must. Stress is defined in terms of how it impacts physical and psychological health; it includes mental, physical, and emotional strain. Stress occurs when a demand exceeds an individual’s coping ability and disrupts his or her psychological equilibrium.

Stress occurs in the workplace when an employee perceives a situation to be too strenuous to handle, and therefore threatening to his or her well-being. It is a complex phenomenon and is influenced by various factors and there is no single method for surviving the stressful events in life; rather, it is a process of figuring out what works best for person at the time of stress. The coping strategies will guide the individual to work through both everyday stress as well as crisis stressors.  Cognitive behavioural approaches are effective in dealing with stressful conditions.  Mindfulness based approaches are recently highlighted as intervention for managing stress. Stress management is important since stress is related to various medical conditions which have enduring effects on individual. Stress is one of the top five threats to performance among employees globally.

Consequently, due to stress performance takes a beating and the learning ability and retention also goes for a toss. However, no study has assessed the practice of stress management behaviours and associated factors among the stressors. Stress is a common phenomenon of modern life. Stress is generally due to conflict emanating from high aspirations and goal attainment.  Stress may also result from indecisiveness or failure to cope with the demanding situation.  Stress is common for all, but the degree varies which depend on various intra psychic and interpersonal factors. Stress prone people experience more health related problems and experience difficulties in interpersonal area.

Although stress cannot be totally eliminated from the individual’s life it can be minimized which may help in leading a healthy and prosperous social life. Stress is the physical and emotional adaptive response to an external situation that results in physical, psychological and behavioural deviations. Stress can be roughly subdivided into the effects and mechanisms of chronic and acute stress. Chronic psychological stress in early life and adulthood has been demonstrated to result in maladaptive changes in both the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA)-axis and the sympathetic nervous system. Acute and time-limited stressors seem to result in adaptive redistribution of all major leukocyte sub populations.

Stress management behaviours are defined as behaviours people often use in the face of stress or trauma to help manage painful or difficult emotions. Stress management behaviours include sleeping 6–8 h each night, make an effort to monitor emotional changes, use adequate responses to unreasonable issues, make schedules and set priorities, make an effort to determine the source of each stress that occurs, make an effort to spend time daily for muscle relaxation, concentrate on pleasant thoughts at bedtime, feel content and peace with yourself.

Practicing those behaviours are very important in helping people adjust to stressful events while helping them maintain their emotional wellbeing .Stress can start from the daily hassles of family to the work place or from the work place for family. Those who are even living single, they are also facing stress. There are various sources which produced stress, where some are acute and some others are still chronic. Eliminating stress at work as an organization isn’t feasible, but that doesn’t mean that organizations/establishments shouldn’t be invested in stress management. Stress can also result in irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia.  Further the common symptoms of stress are as:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Neck ache and back pain
  • Frequent colds
  • Excess anxiety, worry, and nervousness
  • Depress and frequent or wild mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble learning
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased frustration
  • Reduced work efficiency or productivity
  • Excessive defensiveness
  • Problems communicating
  • Constant fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Increased smoking, alcohol, or drug use

And those are only some of the possible effects. If employees experience any of these symptoms, it’s easy to imagine how it will impact on the professionalism. Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, constant fatigue—these are all things that will end up costing a professionalism in the long run.

Stress-related disorders encompass a broad array of conditions, including psychological disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder) and other types of emotional strain (e.g., dissatisfaction, fatigue, tension), maladaptive behaviours (e.g., aggression, substance abuse), and cognitive impairment (e.g., concentration and memory problems). Job stress is also associated with various biological reactions that may ultimately lead to compromised physical health, such as cardiovascular disease. Problems caused by stress have become a major concern to both employers and employees. Symptoms of stress can manifest both physiologically and psychologically.

Work-related stress is typically caused by demands and pressure from either within or outside of the workplace; it can be derived from uncertainty over where the job will take the employee, inconsistent or difficult expectations, interpersonal issues, or physical demands. Although, the importance of individual differences cannot be ignored, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions are stressful to most people. Such evidence argues that working conditions are a key source of job stress and job redesign should be used as a primary prevention strategy. Stress management refers to a wide spectrum of techniques and therapies that aim to control a person’s levels of stress, especially chronic stress, to improve everyday functioning. To reduce workplace stress, Administrators/Managers can monitor each employee’s workload to ensure it is in line with their capabilities and resources.

There are many ways Administrators/Managers can prevent job stress in the work stations. A combination of organizational change and stress management is often the most effective approach. Among the many different techniques managers can use to effectively prevent employee stress, the main underlying themes are awareness of possibly stressful elements of the workplace and intervention when necessary to mitigate any stress that does arise. While some stress in the workplace is inevitable, employees should not feel constantly overwhelmed by it. Stress can and must be managed in your organization to ensure a positive, thriving culture and meaningful employee engagement. When culture and engagement are healthy, a multitude of other pieces of the successful organization’s puzzle fall into place.


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