Coping with workplace stress

Work stress

The daily grind of projects, deadlines and pressures at work can be stressful. Felicia Houston, a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) at the University of Chicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital, shares tips on how to recognize and resolve excessive stress in the workplace.

What causes stress in the workplace?

Pressure to perform at optimum levels and to meet rising expectations, an ever-growing to do list, and a lack of resources or self-confidence are some of the factors that can cause stress at work.

What are signs of too much stress?

Stress affects each person differently and can present physically, mentally and emotionally. Some symptoms of stress that can manifest on the job include poor work performance, absences, loss of focus, irritability, headaches, unhealthy eating and strained relationships with coworkers. Long-term stress can cause more serious conditions such as gastrointestinal upset, high blood pressure, muscle pain, weight gain, heart attack and stroke.

Life happens and everyone experiences stress, but the key is to be mindful of your body, recognize when stress is excessive and take action.

What are some ways to relieve work-related stress?

Life happens and everyone experiences stress, but the key is to be mindful of your body, recognize when stress is excessive and take action. Be sure to take your full scheduled breaks. Go outside for fresh air or take a walk to “turn off” your racing thoughts. Practice mindfulness by noticing what you’re hearing, smelling and experiencing in the moment. Make use of wellness facilities and programs your employer might offer, like gyms and counseling services. Substitute a glass of water for a cup of coffee; dehydration can cause headaches. Learn how to say no to projects that aren’t a priority, and try not to take work matters personally. Have hobbies and a healthy lifestyle outside of work. Volunteer or do good for others on your time off. Visit your doctor for regular checkups, as well as when you feel stress is negatively affecting your work.

How can employers help?

Be aware of and sensitive to the needs of your staff, especially when something stressful may have occurred for your employee outside of work. Create a safe environment for employees to be honest with you about their stress levels and admit when the workload is too demanding. Give information to your staff about what your company offers to combat stress both directly and indirectly, like financial planning workshops, childcare services or incentives for wellness. Offer discounts for gym memberships, host workout challenges, healthy eating days or cooking demonstrations.

For more information or to schedule a behavioral health assessment, please call 708-915- 6411. A trained professional is available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, to meet your needs.

Felicia Houston

Felicia Houston

Felicia Houston is a community development liaison for UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial, offering seminars on stress prevention and related topics throughout the Chicagoland area.

UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial