What should be done about stress at work?

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Nice Advice, by Leah Albert

Dear Leah,

Work has been really stressful lately. I feel like I keep getting more placed on my shoulders with less time to get anything done. I’ve tried to talk to my supervisor, but there isn’t much that can be done. I dread going to work every day. Should I be looking for a new job?

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— Stressed to the Max


Dear Stressed to the Max,

Stress at work can easily spill over in to the rest of your life and color your whole life experience. It is definitely something you need to address early on, or it can become a serious problem.

Stress can cause sleeplessness, weight gain and leads to heart disease and a whole host of other more serious health concerns.

Chronic stress is far too common these days. In fact, recent studies have shown that in our community stress is the greatest health-related concern people are facing.

A little stress is actually very healthy — the natural reaction to stress, such as an increase in adrenaline, gives our bodies extra oomph to get through hard times. But this can become toxic if it occurs often or continuously.

Unfortunately, many people are living in a state of stress where they can’t seem to get a handle on any aspect of their lives and continue to spiral down in to a state of despair.

I don’t meant to cause you additional stress by saying all of this, but it’s not something we can blow off anymore as individuals or as a society. Chronic stress is a serious concern and one that needs to be addressed by communities, at workplaces, with friends and family, even with children. Unfortunately, our children are also experiencing greater stress these days with limited tools or understanding for how to effectively manage it.

I’m wondering several things about your situation. First, is your supervisor the best person to talk to? Often the human resources manager receives education about how to best address employee concerns. Some companies even have their own nurses or medical staff to meet with. Many companies also have resources through insurance providers to talk with a professional. Any of these individuals will be able to make suggestions to your supervisor or develop a plan with you to better address the stress you are experiencing.

Next, I would ask you to take a look at your life outside of work. Are you facing many personal challenges or placing a lot of additional expectations on yourself? This could certainly magnify the situation you are experiencing at work.

Are you getting enough sleep, drinking enough water (getting enough hydration), and making sure to have some down time? Watching TV isn’t the most effective way to relax as it keeps the brain in constant stimulation. Taking a walk or listening to music is a better way to relax at the end of the day.

Are you remembering to breathe? Many yoga instructors say the greatest lesson they will teach their students is how to breathe properly — and it is also the greatest benefit of yoga. Take a few minutes during the day to notice your breath — are you holding it in? Are you breathing shallow breaths, or are you making sure to take a complete, full inhale and complete, full exhale? It’s amazing how calming this simple act can be when you take time to do it.

If none of this has been helpful, my final suggestion is to ask your supervisor if the thing that is causing you so much stress (fast-paced environment, expectations, long hours) will continue or is only temporary. If it’s a temporary situation, this knowledge may help you to psychologically, emotionally and physically deal with the increased stress.

My mom always said that if you have your health you deal with anything life throws at you. You need to make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. If your health continues to decline, I suggest you start to look in to other work options.

Stress is directly connected to decreased productivity and increased sick days — many employers are recognizing this and making great strides to be create a healthier workplace with opportunities to de-stress during the day. Hopefully this will become the norm someday — I know we would all benefit.


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at theniceadviceleahalbert@gmail.com.