What You Need to Know About Stress at Work – Dos and Don’ts

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Stress is a very dangerous condition that leads to poor physical and mental health when left untaken care of. It can lead to low productivity and effectiveness at work. Job stress’s effects on the physical and psychological aspects of your health cannot be underestimated.

Much as it is inevitable to encounter challenges and problems in the workspace, excessive pressure leads to high levels of depression and anxiety. Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) show the following symptoms as early warning signs of workplace stress:

  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Low morale

It is saddening that some employers believe that demanding working areas are good for the well-being of the company as they believe that pressure creates diamonds. Much as this is true, we should note that too much pressure breaks the diamond and causes irreversible damage.

Studies show that stressful working conditions are associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs, all of which have a negative effect on the productivity and effectiveness of the workspace.

It is important to establish the factors that are responsible for worry and anxiety in the workplace.

Possible causes of stress at the workplace

Unwanted Sexual advancements

Sexual harassment is a very sensitive issue in the workplace as it brings the reputation, integrity, and brand of the workspace into focus. Touching someone inappropriately, making unwanted sexual advances and sexually offensive remarks are some examples of the kind of behavior that makes some employees dread every day at the workplace. Anything sexual in nature that creates a hostile work environment is considered sexual harassment but this does not stop some employers from taking advantage of their positions and status.

There have been times in your workspace when you have heard lewd comments or lascivious winks passed at you. This becomes more difficult when it is a senior associate or partner at the office. The worst-case scenario is them boldly making sexual advances. It is very easy to get stressed in such a situation more so if the boss is threatening to fire you and yet you are the family’s breadwinner. It must be noted that fellow associates can be the causes of this problem as they consider you a peer.

Social scientists established that sexual harassment is a source of stress that is harmful to one’s mental and physical health. They linked sexual harassment to an increased risk of anxiety, sadness, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as lower self-esteem, self-confidence, and psychological well-being.

Inadequate salaries

Another biggest issue causing employees stress is inadequate to pay. Anecdotal evidence suggests that seven out of ten employees believe the major cause of their anxiety and worry.

It is very easy to get stressed at the workplace if your effort and sacrifice are not directly proportional to the amount of money you receive. This can cause overwhelming worry and frustration as you wonder if your efforts are being appreciated. This can cause you to excessively work leading to burnout in a bid to impress your employers.

Gender and Racial discrimination

Refusing to hire or promote someone, paying them less, and treating them differently because of their gender are all examples of workplace discrimination. In this case, associates and employers can participate by deliberately excluding women colleagues from important meetings yet they are stakeholders in the issues that are going to be discussed.

Many women say they are under stress at work, with far more demands than they can handle. Work is considered as intruding on their personal time, according to many women. Under these working conditions, the demands placed on women are naturally higher, and women are expected to work harder to demonstrate equal ability to their male colleagues. This frequently leads to burnout as they are pushed to overwork themselves.

Work adds to the insurmountable amount of house duties and chores by women at home, including cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children, as witnessed in most societies. Finding a balance between work and personal life, mostly among married women, is a major cause of worry and anxiety.

When it comes to racial marginalization, some employees are vastly ignored and underlooked because of their skin color or race. The research found out that women who reported experiencing racial discrimination at work had higher levels of psychological distress among black African–Caribbean respondents. Racial discrimination and injustice can have a significant emotional and psychological impact, resulting in persistent tension, anxiety, despair, and racial trauma.

Lack of physical exercise

Anxiety, depression, and stress are all known to be higher in people who do not engage in regular exercise and physical activity. Our brain grows sluggish and fatigued without even low-impact exercise, making it difficult to stay motivated or meet deadlines. Ten days without fitness can cause our brains to begin losing cognitive function.

When we don’t have a regular plan for physical activity, our brain releases the stress hormone cortisol, which makes it more difficult to successfully manage our emotions.


Lack of job security

The Covid 19 pandemic left many employees uncertain and anxious because of the reduction of workers in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Alongside this, some companies closed down due to severe financial difficulties that caused them to outsource staff. This caused uncertainty among employees everywhere.

Other reasons such as mergers and acquisitions as well as changes in work practices can create a dilemma as the employers are left wondering if the new management is going to consider them. Consequently, job insecurity is a key work-related stressor, which affects a growing number of workers. Exposure to job insecurity has been linked to several negative health outcomes, particularly mental health.

The prospect of losing a job and the subsequent challenges cause severe depression and anxiety as it has been reported that the effects of job insecurity have a more devastating effect than job loss itself. It is very easy to become stressed in the current era as some employees get worried about the loss of economic and social privileges that come with job loss.

What to do when stressed at work

Reach out to a trusted friend

When you’re faced with a problem like sexual harassment, it’s critical that you contact Human Resources. Department If you’re having trouble connecting with someone on the team, look for someone with whom you feel at ease and who values your opinion.

Make sure you express your opinions with someone who will encourage you rather than condemn you. Consider joining a support group or forming your own if you don’t have anyone with whom to talk about your experience.

Try out effective communication

It is fundamental that you have a good working relationship with your employers that allows you to ably communicate your grievances and problems. When you feel that you are putting in more effort as well as hard work and it is not corresponding to your workload, do reach out to them so as to reach a mutual understanding. At times, the company may be facing some financial difficulties that make it difficult to increase your pay or you are doing sub-standard work that does not account for an increment in salary. Ensure that there is two-way communication between employee and employer.

Socially inclusive work environment

As an employer, it is vital that you create an enabling environment that allows employees from different fields and backgrounds to contribute ideas and structures that build the workspace. A lack of inclusion in the workplace fosters discontent, isolation, and uncertainty, all of which are harmful to the workplace or firm. Workplace social involvement promotes a more positive and healthy work environment.

Embracing diverse and dissimilar ideals leads to higher employee satisfaction which reduces their levels of stress. This results in improved productivity and profitability. Employees that feel appreciated in their job are more likely to feel happier in the workplace.

This promotes employee confidence that leads to the contribution of excellent and worthwhile ideas that subsequently lead to an improvement in the efficiency of a company in terms of good or service production.

Making the workplace family-friendly.

Some employers like to detach themselves from personal issues involving their employees. It is however essential that they actively involve themselves in their lives to promote a better working environment. Studies done by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) point out that family stress can be relieved by a workplace with family-friendly policies. Family stress is often caused by the conflict of going to work or dealing with family problems and being disciplined for absenteeism.

A family-friendly workplace policy allows workers to take sick relatives to the hospital, attend school meetings and take care of sick children without having any worry of getting a suspension or warning letter. This will decrease stress and anxiety and allow employees to work to their full potential.


Engage in regular exercise and physical activity

Spending over six hours nonstop typing away at your laptop or carrying out repetitive tasks leads to the development of joint pain and other health problems.

Being physically active promotes mental well-being and reduces stress by causing your body to release chemicals that help lift your mood and make you feel more relaxed. Taking breaks between your day and carrying out other tasks as well as moving and stretching regularly helps you think more clearly and improve your effectiveness at work.


All in all, the workplace is that one space that most of us dread and the silent minority love. It is full of situations and challenges that one can use to build or destroy them if they so wish. At the workplace, various cultures, beliefs, and behaviors are abundant. This makes strife and conflict very possible as each person wants to impose their value and belief system. Much as this is expected, we all must create an enabling work environment that allows every employee to thrive with their different abilities and skill sets.

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