Studies show that tension at the place of employment is the number one factor of strain in the lives of Americans. This is especially evident in the experiences of women of color. They continue to experience disadvantages because gender and race affect their working surroundings. When experiencing work stress, it’s important to realize that you’re not powerless. Taking charge of your situation and surroundings is an essential step in overcoming stressful obstacles.
When people say that “a little bit of stress is good for you”, what is actually meant is that it often takes a challenge to motivate us at our place of employment. Because of it, we strive to learn new skills and master what we’re already doing. It is a welcoming drive, but it has nothing to do with working under unhealthy pressure, which will cause you to underperform and deteriorate your physical condition.
What Is Work Stress?
What is defined under job stress according to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)? The harmful physical and emotional responses occur when the requirements of the position do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Working under pressure can compromise health, performance, and even lead to injury.
Stressors in the working environment can be physical and psychosocial, where the psychosocial ones are predominant. They include inflexible working hours, high workplace demands, having low control over your job, insecurity of employment, bullying, and harassment.
What Are the Signs of Stress in the Workplace?
It’s easy to neglect how the workplace tension affects you, but long exposure to it can have a serious toll on your physical and mental health. There are signs by which you can identify that you’re experiencing job tension:
- If you’re experiencing loss of appetite, insomnia, low self-esteem, fatigue, and headaches, these are all signs of unmanaged stress. You may even have higher blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and digestive problems.
- Going through burnout? It’s defined by emotional exhaustion and a reduced sense of accomplishment. Studies suggest that there’s a clear connection between burnout, depression, and tension at your place of employment.
- Feeling overwhelmed because of anxiety symptoms and worrying about anything job-related long after you’re done with your tasks for the day is a definite sign of unmanaged tension.
- Getting into conflicts often, even outside your place of employment, because you’re easily upset can put unwanted strain on your relationships.
These are all biologically reprogrammed body responses to stressful situations, and they must not be prolonged.
Identifying the Triggers Is Important
While some reasons for workplace tension may be obvious, like fear of losing your job, or obstacles in a particularly demanding project, others can be silent, but persistent. A long commute and an uncomfortable environment can highly affect your well-being without being noticeable at first glance. When you experience signs of tension, burnout, and any negative thoughts and emotional responses, take notes so you can point out the triggers and try to reduce them.
Are There Certain Workplace Conditions That Can Be Stressors?
There are some studies that suggest that your personality, as well as past experiences, all influence your emotional and physical responses to stressful situations and coping style. But scientific evidence suggests that there are some working conditions that are stressful to most people. Here are some of them:
- Long work hours and being underpaid, along with infrequent rest breaks and working in shifts,
- If a job is not utilizing a worker’s skills, provides routine tasks and a low sense of control,
- Tension between colleagues, or supervisors, poor communication, and lack of family-friendly policies,
- Uncertainties in your career path, job insecurity, and no opportunities for growth,
- The balance between your personal and professional life is off, and these two are conflicted,
- Physical strain from unpleasant environmental conditions, such as noise or air pollution.
- Despite representing about 18% of the U.S. population, women of color made it to only 4% of C-Level positions in 2018, and even graduating from a prestigious law or business school doesn’t help much. At our places of employment, we have to deal with less support, microaggressions, double standards, harassment, and other obstacles that keep us from advancing. This raises the overall tension in already stressful environments because we have to learn how to deal with racism on a daily basis.
All of these may trigger a stressful physical and mental response in your body, and it’s a warning sign that you need to take action. Unresolved prolonged situations like these can pose a threat to your well-being and need to be managed. If you are a woman of color working under such conditions, finding African American counselors, Asian therapists, Indian therapists, Latinx therapists, or other therapists of color is a good starting point in resolving these problems.
How Do You Handle Stress at Work and Stay in Good Health?
If you’re wondering how to handle stress at work, there are numerous steps you can take. Try talking to your employer about it, because your well-being is linked to productivity. Clarify what is expected of you or make changes to your environment, so your surroundings can become beneficial to your productivity. Besides making changes at your workplace, taking care of yourself is equally important for a healthy life.
Can I Have Time off Work for Stress?
Sparing even a few minutes during the day for only yourself can help you, and also spending some time surrounded by nature can be beneficial to lowering tension. A good idea on how to deal with stress is to use your lunch break to take a walk outside in a park, for example. If you feel the need to, using your sick days or having a long weekend off is also a good idea when it comes to coping with job-related tension. Sleeping regularly is more important than you think because irregular sleep interferes with your productivity and ability to focus. The more you rest, the better at problem-solving you’ll be, and better at coping with negative emotions.
Can I Reach Out?
Keeping in touch with your family and friends is essential in helping you cope with stressful situations in your life, and a good way to calm yourself down. Sharing a load of unhealthy pressure through talking it out and getting empathy can be effective and alleviate some of it. A solid support system at your workplace can also mean a lot – just remember that you are a part of their emotional support if they ever need some, too. Perhaps some of your co-workers have gone to an African American, Asian, Indian, or Latinx or other counselors of color, and can tell you that therapy does work, especially with your first therapy appointment. It may help you make up your mind about contacting a therapist and making an appointment.
Relaxation Techniques That You Can Practice Inside
To melt away some of that tension that black women in the workplace get affected by, as well as women belonging to other minority groups, you can use meditation, breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation techniques. Try to focus on simple everyday activities, like enjoying a meal. Listening to music to start your day off right, or relaxing tunes during the commute have proven to be beneficial. If you play something relaxing on your way home, it may help you wind down. You can find some soothing music in the following video.
Find Time off Your Job for Exercise and Other Activities
Self-care ideas for women include activities that raise your heart rate and make you sweat, like aerobic exercise and rhythmic moving that includes walking, running, drumming, and dancing. They are all a great way to lift your mood and increase energy. There are also courses and classes that you can attend, along with different workshops and panels.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself Smart Food Choices
Small and frequent healthy meals affect your overall condition much more than you think. Maintaining the level of blood sugar will keep your energy and focus even throughout the day. Overeating can make you feel lethargic, while low blood sugar can make you more anxious. Look for ways to minimize sugar intake and avoid coffee, trans fats, and nicotine. Search online for healthy food trends. You can find a lot of good advice on how to prepare a quick and healthy meal at your home.
The Best Tip Is to Know When to Seek Help
Stressful situations at our places of employment are particularly hard on women of color. These situations are often overlooked when we think about the reasons why we want to book a therapy appointment. If you’re wondering how to choose a therapist, remember that you need them to help you decompress and take good care of yourself. They can help you identify the sources of tension and strain and come out with great management techniques and methods.