Workplace stress is a common problem. Deadlines, competition, friction among personnel and the environment itself can combine to cause anxiety and stress among workers. Potentially, this has serious consequences for employers, as production can be affected. Over 13 million sick days and 70% of doctors’ visits a year are attributed to stress-related illness. And stress can also affect performance, as concentration, memory and learning are impeded.
The toll on production, however, is only one aspect of stress. The human toll is just as important. Stress can lead to illness, unemployment and the breakdown of relationships. It is vital, therefore, that measures are taken to reduce the factors that cause stress and to find ways to combat it.
Central to combating stress is recognizing its existence and what causes it. Then it becomes a matter of taking the appropriate steps to avoid or control it. Here are a few simple steps that you as an individual can take at work to help reduce your stress levels:
- Take a walk. If you find yourself in a situation where stress is building up, the best thing you can do is to walk away temporarily until that crisis feeling is over. It may be enough just to go somewhere else in your workplace or you may need to take a stroll in the fresh air. In any event, you should get away from the stressful environment for a while to recharge your batteries and take stock.
- Laughter. It is an old but true adage – laughter is the best medicine. Tricky or stressful situations can often be relieved by a little humour. Seeing the funny side always tends to make the dark side brighter.
- Have a drink. Taking a drink is a great stress reliever. Tea and coffee are the most common, perhaps not because of what they contain but because hot drinks always seem to have a soothing effect and the time taken to fetch or prepare them serves to takes us away from the stressful environment. But water, too, is a good for relieving stress. It helps keep you hydrated and gives you the excuse to leave for the bathroom if a situation becomes too tense.
- Know what you can change. There is much in the workplace that you cannot change but you will find that there are some annoying things that you can. The position of your desk, a wobbly chair, an underpowered desk lamp and even where and how you keep your things can all be changed and can make you feel better at work
There will always be times when you feel stressed, especially for people working in web development or in IT. For example sql developer positions and C++ developer jobs can be extremely stressful jobs due to the difficulty of the nature of the work and the numerous problems which need to be dealt with. However, these simple methods should help you reduce or overcome its effects. Try them – you will feel much better and your work performance and your private life will benefit.
Peter Holbrook is a recruitment consultant at Randstad Technologies, one of the UK's largest IT job boards.