Less stress at work

The phone is constantly ringing, e-mails are piling up in the letterbox, a customer is complaining and the boss is dissatisfied because everything is taking too long for him again. You probably know these or similar situations from your work. Especially in times of constant availability, shortage of labour and technical innovations, many people feel overloaded in their job. Continued stress is therefore a big problem. Because when stress at work, but also in private life, becomes a permanent condition, it can make you ill. The World Health Organisation WHO even speaks of stress as one of the greatest health hazards of the 21st century. [1] That is why it is important for you to feel comfortable at your workplace, recognise the signs of excessive stress in time, and counteract them as soon as possible. Tips and tricks on how to do this can be found in this article.

When does stress become a problem?

Stress is basically a positive mechanism. After an irritating stimulus, your body puts you on heightened attention and alert. Afterwards it tries to shut down as quickly as possible and return to normal so that you can recover. Positive stress makes it easier for you to overcome a difficult situation and to be satisfied with your own performance afterwards.

Negative stress, on the other hand, makes you feel overwhelmed and helpless and you no longer see a way out of your situation. If such an unpleasant situation lasts for too long, the stress can eventually make you ill and in the worst case even lead to a burnout syndrome. [2]

Find causes and recognise limits

Every person reacts with different sensitivities to stress. It is important to know your own limits and to find out the causes of the stress you feel. For example, many young people are stressed out when they have to reconcile work and family life. Older people, on the other hand, often feel left behind by younger workers and the many technical innovations. In any case, it is important to make sure that there are sufficient periods of rest and a good balance between work, family and leisure. [3]

When nothing works any more – Burnout

If stress is persistent, people can eventually get burnout syndrome. Burnout does not happen overnight, but is a creeping process of mental, emotional and mental exhaustion that lasts for months or years. Signs of burnout are persistent tiredness and depression, but also physical syndromes such as tension, headaches or sweating. The only way to treat a burnout syndrome is a long break with professional care. Often people who are affected have great problems finding their way back into working life. If you want to find out more about burnout prevention, you can read an article on the topic here with more information. [4]

Stress at work – Where do the dangers hide?

There are many dangers at work that can affect both your mental and physical health. According to an evaluation of several studies by the Initiative for Health and Work (iga), the following points in particular are often associated with excessive stress:

1. Long working hours and overtime

Working too many hours can increase the risk of depression and cardiovascular disease. It is therefore important to limit the amount of overtime worked and to allow oneself sufficient time to recover after stressful phases.

2. Sufficient scope for action

Employees should be trusted by their employers and should be allowed to work independently and make their own decisions within the scope of their activities. The studies we looked at suggest that too much restriction on their freedom of action can have negative effects on their body and mind.

3. Shift work

Shift work over an extended time span also poses a health risk. Here, cardiovascular problems are particularly common among people who have to work in the evening. The research did not find any reliable evidence about night shifts, but at least a similar effect can be assumed.

4. Work intensity

Too much work intensity has a psychological impact. Depressions, but also mental illnesses such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder can develop from too much pressure during working hours. Here it is important not to take on too much and to refuse or hand in work orders from time to time.

5. Job insecurity

The fear of losing one’s job can also affect the psyche and ultimately lead to mental illness.

6. The social environment

Of course, social interaction within the company is also important. Respectful cooperation, but also a clear structure and distribution of roles promote the well-being of the employees. Those who do not feel comfortable in their social environment have an increased risk of mental illness and problems concentrating on their work. [5]

Stress prevention is worth it

Stress prevention pays off for companies not only with motivated and balanced employees, but also financially. Michael Kastner, head of the Institute for Occupational Psychology and Occupational Medicine in Herdecke, puts the financial return on modern health promotion for companies at almost twice the amount invested. [6]

What you can do yourself against stress

Every person reacts differently to stress. Nevertheless, there are a few simple rules of thumb that you can use to make your working day more relaxed:

  1. Create a comfortable working environment according to your own ideas. A picture of your family or your pet evokes reassuring associations and helps you to connect your workplace with positive feelings.
  2. Always include short breaks for relaxation exercises. A short meditation session can help you recharge your batteries and continue working with renewed vigour.
  3. Mindfulness training can also help you to be more aware of yourself and to get to know your limits better. If you want to learn how mindfulness practice works, you will find more detailed instructions here. Mindfulness training can also help you to be more aware of yourself and to get to know your limits better. If you want to learn how mindfulness practice works, you will find more detailed instructions here.
  4. Learn to say “no”. No one can take on all the work alone. Communicate openly when you feel overburdened and refuse a job sometimes.
  5. Distance is important. Always plan enough recovery periods and try not to think about your work during these periods. You should avoid being constantly available whenever possible.

Effective time management. Don’t just start working, but allocate your time in advance. A list of things you’ve done can also help you to keep track of what you’ve done and to assess your own workload. [7]

Putting strong emotions aside

You probably know the following situation: If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, you think about it for a long time afterwards. You work yourself up into your anger and let yourself be distracted from your work. This naturally creates stress. But you can also try to actively free yourself from these stressful thoughts. Don’t try to ponder the situation all the time, but try to keep your mind at a distance. This will help you to reduce negative feelings better and you will be in a better mood, which is reflected in a balanced everyday life. An open and clarifying conversation with your colleague is of course still useful. [8]

Individualised stress relief

The five human senses are hearing, seeing, tasting, touching and smelling. Every person reacts particularly intensively to different sensory stimuli. If you find out what you react to best, you can actively integrate this into your relaxation exercises.

If you have a great imagination, you can, for example, recall your last holiday by painting a picture and try to revive the feeling of relaxation. If you are particularly sensitive to sounds, relaxing music or the offer of sonamedic can help you. [9]

Escaping the stress spiral

Stress often arises from very different situations that reinforce each other. It is important to break out of this stress spiral and to overcome habitual behaviour patterns and ways of thinking. This is often not so easy.

  1. The first thing to do is to identify the real causes of your stress. Be honest with yourself and do not lose sight of the little things.
  2. Next, ask yourself why you are so self-damaging in these situations and whether these motives are worth risking your health. One such question could be, for example: Why do I work so much? If the answer is: I work so much because I want to get recognition for my performance, you should think about whether the stress is really worth the acknowledgement. You can certainly get it in other, less harmful ways.
  3. Now it is time for a radical change in behaviour. You should not make excuses for why you want to keep a habit or just change it a little. Even if it is difficult. After all, your health is at stake. [10]

The ideal workflow

If you feel challenged in your work, but not overwhelmed, you can reach a state which is called “flow” in psychology. In flow you find your work extremely satisfying, working intuitively and almost subconsciously. In this moment you feel joy in creating and have the feeling of being in control of the situation. So you see a meaning in your work. The more you approach your personal workflow, the more relaxed and productive you become. [11]

You can find more information on how to deal with stress in the following articles on our site:

Burnout prevention: tips to prevent burnout

Reduce stress sustainably: Effective methods for stress reduction

5 Relaxation techniques for a mindful life

Practicing mindfulness: 14 tips for a mindful life

scientific sources

1) WHO: Der Europäische Gesundheitsbericht 2009. Online

2)  Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019. Seite 9 -11. Online

3) Forsa Umfrage: Entspann dich, Deutschland. TK-Stressstudie 2016, Forsa-Umfrage. Online

4)  Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019. Seite 11 – 13. Online

5) Rau, Renate/Blum, Michael/ Mätschke, Laura-Marie, Initiative Gesundheit und Arbeit (iga), Iga.Report 31, Risikobereiche für psychische Belastung, 2015. Online

6) Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019. Seite 7. Online

7) Christian Allner: Die HSB-Akademie. Stressreduktion am Arbeitsplatz. Online

8) Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019. Seite 47 – 48. Online

9) Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019, Seite 41 -42. Online

10) Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019, Seite 44 – 45. Online

11)  Assain, Stefan, Der Anti-Stress-Trainer für Personalverantwortliche. Praxis für Sie und Ihre Mitarbeiter, 2019, Seite 29 – 30. Online

 

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