Times have changed and the workplace is no longer seen as merely a means to an end. Instead, people in today’s society view the workplace as an extension of oneself. The workplace can define a person by allowing them to be creative and satisfy their ambitions.
However, for many employees, the workplace can be an increasingly stressful environment, which, in turn, can lead to poor health. Studies have shown that up to forty percent of Americans find their workplace stressful, with a general rise in stress among adults within the past two years.
While stress can be a natural, everyday occurrence and can even function as a motivating force in small doses, it can have serious negative effects on both mental and physical health if it is allowed to build up. And with stress fast becoming a common occurrence in any workplace, it can be difficult to find a low-stress job.
Fortunately, there are a variety of effective strategies and techniques that could help to reduce workplace stress, including workplace counseling.
In a society where most people spend over forty hours at work every week, it comes as no surprise that there is a myriad of different stressors that may negatively impact work performance. It is also not uncommon for stress and tension to develop between colleagues, as different workers have different personalities, ways of communicating, and world views. These tensions can, in turn, decrease employee performance and productivity, or even lead to problems with mental health.
Some of the most common stressors and problems in the workplace include:
Stress in the workplace can have significant, long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical health, especially when left untreated. Many people who experience work-related stress regularly report symptoms such as eye strain, difficulty sleeping, and more regular sick days.
Some physical health problems caused by work stress that can become chronic conditions include:
Stress can also lead to developing unhealthy habits that contribute to these conditions, such as:
Additionally, work-related stress can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental health as well. Stress can cause a physiological ‘fight or flight’ response, which can, in turn, remove a person’s ability to reason. It also leads to burnout, a psychological syndrome caused by constant exposure to stressors. It occurs due to work-related exhaustion and can lead to a myriad of mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety.
While everyone experiences stress to some extent, it can become a problem when that stress starts to impact your mental or physical health negatively. Here are some signs of work-related stress to look out for:
Self-care is essential, especially during times of stress or tension at work. It is also important to recognize your stressors and deal with them effectively. While this can be difficult, there are some ways to care for yourself and reduce your risk of stress-related illness. These include:
Employee counseling with the help of a professional can be beneficial in many ways, including enhancing personal growth and ensuring improved employee performance. It can also help to improve an employee’s personal life and assist them in overcoming workplace challenges. The positive impact of a wellness program that offers employees counseling sessions free of charge may also lead to reduced absenteeism.
Employees with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression caused by work stress can be treated during therapy. Therapy also assists in improving communication skills and conflict resolution, and these techniques can be applied in the workplace.
In some cases, employees may undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help them identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behavioral tendencies. Aiding employees in finding their own solutions to personal problems can improve their general mood and well-being.
Stress management techniques like Mindfulness and Meditation may also be effective treatments for workplace tension. It trains the brain to relax and helps individuals to open their minds and increase their curiosity by focusing on the present. Employees can do this via mindfulness apps, classes, informal exercises, and guided meditation sessions.
When considering job satisfaction, performance, and fit, Vocational Counseling may come in handy. It offers a great opportunity to analyze and discuss your current and future career plans. In this way, counseling can also decrease costs related to employee burnout, absenteeism, high turnover, and accident-related disability.
Sometimes simply having a patient listener as a sounding board, without necessarily giving advice, can already be hugely helpful to employees and lead to various positive organizational changes, such as greater synergy.
In some cases, managers may refer employees to counseling sessions as part of a disciplinary process.
Workplace counseling is an invaluable resource that can reduce employee stress and help individuals to:
In some workplaces, workplace counseling is offered free of charge through an employee assistance program. If you are a remote employee, you may find online counseling, support, or therapy offered via video calls or instant messaging for workers in more remote settings.
If you require support with work stress, check whether your job offers a workplace counseling program. A counseling session can also be helpful if you are struggling with a personal problem that is affecting your work.