Human Resources South Africa

The New Age of Workplace Stress

The New Age of Workplace Stress

January 29
10:32 2011

By Lila Havens, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth

Your job used to be challenging but manageable. Now it seems no matter how fast you run, you can’t keep up. Your inbox is piling up, and your boss is on your back.

This scenario is all too common, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In national surveys:

  • 40 percent of workers say their job is very or extremely stressful.
  • 75 percent say workers suffer more job-related stress than workers in the previous generation.
  • 25 percent of employees say their job is their number one stressor.

Even if you love your job, long-term stress can grind you down. Read on to learn more about stress and how to tame it in the workplace.

From cave to cubicle: the stress response
Stress is a necessary survival response that draws upon instinct, hormones and muscle. Indeed, our distant ancestors’ “fight or flight” response to stress allowed the human race to survive in a hostile environment.

These days we no longer brandish a spear or need to outrun predators. Yet we still have the same quickened heartbeat and surging stress hormones when faced with a stressful situation. Those biological responses are lifesaving when we’re in danger, but they can damage our health if they become a way of life.

A small dose of stress can be helpful. It may help you meet a deadline or score high on a presentation. But if stress becomes a day-in, day-out reality, it can lead to poor health. At first it can cause headaches, upset stomach and poor sleep. Over time it may lead to chronic health problems such as depression, back pain and heart disease.

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