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3 ways in which workplace stress is damaging your health

May 12, 2022

With the growing demands on employees in the workplace, the number of stressors has shown a large increase. There are 2 main categories of workplace stressors that majorly influence employees- physical stressors and psychosocial stressors. Physical stressors refer to factors like noise, lighting, ventilation, posture, smell, etc. Psychological stressors refer to factors like bullying, workload, working hours, harassment, workplace relationships, etc. It has been found that psychosocial stressors are far more predominant and can lead to a more severe and prolonged stress reaction. 

workplace stress

The stress reaction can be complicated as it starts off as a distress reaction to a situation, but can turn into a more chronic form of stress over time. This can lead to severe health issues that can have disruptive results on both- health and performance. It is necessary to know of and identify distress reactions early on in order to protect oneself from further harm. Stress can impact your health in various ways: 

 

Physical ailments

Workplace stress results in around 120,000 deaths per year. It is well known that chronic stress can manifest physically and have serious consequences. When the body’s stress response is activated for prolonged periods, without getting a chance to “relax”, can lead to serious physical ailments.

Initially, one may experience physical signs such as chest pain, headache, insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, etc. However, if the early signs are ignored- it may lead to more serious and irreversible health issues such as high BP, cardiovascular issues, increased heart rate, weakened immune system, high cholesterol, higher risk of heart attack, etc. It is important to remember that prolonged stress periods can permanently alter the body’s functioning- including hormone production, mood cycles, sleep cycle, etc.  

 

Mental health and performance 

71% of the population with mental illnesses reports stress being one of the symptoms. Workplace stress has a significant impact on one’s mental health  and performance. The percentage of people suffering from depression, anxiety, burnout, PTSD, etc is constantly rising in the workplace. Not only does workplace stress contribute to slowing down the recovery process but also actively contributes to mental health issues.

These mental health issues also contribute to decreased job performance and satisfaction. About 57% of the employees report having feelings of depression. It has been found that depression can influence one’s ability to perform job related tasks about 35% of the time. Additionally, the health care cost of employees with depression (or at risk) is significantly higher as compared to others. 

Further, workplace stress can contribute to decreased performance by contributing to the lack of motivation, poor self esteem and confidence, lack of initiative, poor social skills, hindered communication, low productivity, high absenteeism, etc. Workplace stress also directly correlates to turnover, thus having monetary consequences for companies. 

 

Substance abuse and workplace stress

Substance abuse is a grave and underrepresented consequence of workplace stress. 26% of employed adults suffer from substance abuse. Employees often resort to substance as a means of relieving stress. However, the consumption of substances is often wrongly encouraged in certain high stress jobs as a means to “boost productivity”. It is important to be mindful of the methods used to cope with the stress of the job, and company intervention is definitely required when one shows signs such as increased absenteeism, conduct issues, theft, low comprehension, etc. 

 

Workplace stress can lead to several mental and physical health issues, while disrupting one’s social life. It is necessary to beware of any suspicious signs in order to immediately take required actions to manage work stress. Workplace stress is a silent killer that has been ignored for far too long. Company-level intervention is absolutely necessary to tackle this concern.

 

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