What is work-related stress?
Work-related stress is a feeling you may experience when you have demands at work that you feel you cannot keep up with. It may worsen existing mental health conditions or lead to the development of one if it goes on for a long period of time without being dealt with effectively.
According to Bupa (no date), over 11 million working days are lost every year due to work-related stress. Nearly half a million people in the UK have work-related stress at a level that makes them feel ill.
Causes of work-related stress
Usually, work is a good thing for us as it gives life structure and most people gain satisfaction from working and meeting their goals. Pressure at work can be beneficial if it helps you to perform better and helps to motivate you through challenging times. However, if the pressure lasts too long at a high level, combined with increasing demands, you may start experiencing work-related stress.
Examples of causes of work-related stress include:
- an excessive workload or unrealistic deadlines
- regularly being under pressure to meet targets or deadlines
- difficult relationships with colleagues, or bullying at work
- management style
- a lack of control over the way you do your job
- being unclear about your job role and what you’re meant to do
- being in the wrong job for your skills, abilities and expectations
Sometimes, like with other causes of stress, there is no single cause of work-related stress.
Smaller things can build up over time or other external factors (not work-related) can influence your work-related stress, such as events going on in your personal life.
Symptoms of work-related stress
The symptoms of work-related stress are more or less the same as that of other causes of stress. However, there are also more specific symptoms that relate to you and your situation in the workplace:
- feeling tired and that you have no energy
- diarrhoea or constipation
- stomach ache
- aches and pains
- feeling sick
- putting on, or losing weight
- chest pains or tightness in your chest
- losing the desire to have sex
- feeling that you can’t cope with your workload
- finding it hard to concentrate on a piece of work you need to do, and remember things
- lacking confidence in your workplace
- not feeling motivated or committed to your job
- feeling disappointed with yourself at work
- being indecisive at work
- feeling anxious (for example, you might dread going to work, which happens to us all occasionally but if it’s every day there’s a problem)
- feeling more emotional – you might be more tearful or sensitive
- feeling irritable, or having a short temper
- feeling overwhelmed
- mood swings
- being irritable and snappy
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- avoiding certain places or people
- drinking or smoking more
- taking illegal drugs to relax
(Bupa, no date)