At some point, we have all had that experience at work when one of our colleagues departs on holiday or resigns from the business entirely. Suddenly we are expected to take on their work and pick up the slack. We are still completing the tasks of our role and now we are having to complete the tasks of another. We still have the same amount of time in our day and this sends us into overdrive; our mind and body working furiously to keep up. What can often start off as temporary change, can soon become permanent. As a result, we begin to activate our bodies natural Fight or Flight response. This might be a noticeable feeling at the time (feeling stressed), however there are many other physiological changes occurring out of our awareness that can soon become our normal state.
This is just one example of how we activate the stress response in the workplace, however in reality, we can have these same reactions to organisational changes, interpersonal conflicts, poor management practices, long hours, work travel, shift work, workplace harassment and poor communication in general.
For most people we spend a third of our lives at work and this can mean that we are constantly in a state of stress (sometimes without our conscious knowing) without having effective stress management skills. Symptoms of stress can present in many ways, however we have a habit of seeing the symptom/s and trying to "fix" them without addressing the REAL CAUSE.
Whilst we may not have control over changes to our workload, our organisational environment and the colleagues around us; we DO have control over OURSELVES. Understanding your mind and the powerful effects of your thoughts (positive and negative) is the first step to managing or eradicating stress. One way to develop an understanding of the mind is through meditation or mindfulness practice. If you are new to it, try spending 5-10 minutes per day focusing your attention on ONE thing (this may be your breath, an object, or a word that you repeat to yourself internally). Don't let your work consume your mind and dictate your health