Work Related Issues

What is workplace stress

We are all aware that our work can have a significant impact on our quality of life.  A certain level of stress or challenge in work can be motivating and enhance our performance.  However, when we perceive that the demands in our work exceed our resources in terms of time, energy and ability, we can experience negative symptoms of stress on physical, mental and emotional levels.   Some of these symptoms may include:

Physical symptoms:

  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Headaches and muscle tension
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of interest in sex

Emotional symptoms:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Increased irritability
  • Indecisiveness and reduced confidence
  • Worry that feels uncontrollable
  • Pessimistic outlook

While we may be able to tolerate and recover from short bursts of stress, protracted and excessive stress can lead to a deterioration in the quality of our relationships and life outside of work, and ultimately can increase our vulnerability to experiencing mental health difficulties

How common is workplace stress?

Based on a report by Safe Work Australia in 2013, it was estimated that stress is costing Australian businesses $10 billion each year.  Previous surveys indicated that approximately one in four of us have taken time off work due to stress.

What types of workplace-related issues are there?

Stress in the workplace can often involve difficulties in the following areas:

  • Long hours and/or taking work home
  • Conflict with colleagues
  • Job insecurity
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Excessive time pressure and/or targets which are too high
  • Poor communication
  • Bullying
  • A sense of limited control over the type or amount of work you do
  • Excessive scrutiny and perceived criticism of your work
  • Limited support from manager and/or co-workers

Helping yourself

Some ways of managing stress include the following:

  • Learn and practise relaxation techniques
  • Understand how important physical activity is for good mental health
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Maintain social contact
  • Be physically active
  • Reduce alcohol and other drugs

You may also find the following links helpful in learning more about stress and accessing further resources:

Getting professional help

If you or someone you care about is in need of additional assistance, the best person to speak to is your GP. They may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

In case of emergency, the following services are available: