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Pressure at the workplace is unavoidable due to the contemporary and challenging work environments. Pressure that is perceived as acceptable by an individual, may even keep employees alert, motivated, able to work and learn, depending on the available resources and personal characteristics. However, when that pressure becomes extreme or otherwise uncontrollable it leads to stress. Stress can damage an employees' health and the business performance. The following steps should be conducted to reduce workplace stress:

Step 1: Identify the cause

Common workplace stressors are increased workloads, fewer opportunities for growth, development and advancement, work that is not challenging enough, low salaries, a lack of social support, and a lack of control over a career path. These issues can impact negatively on the physical body both in the long and short term. Headaches, stomach aches, sleep disturbances; short temperedness and difficulties with alertness can occur. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a low immune system. Such stress can also contribute to health conditions, such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Adding to the problem, people who experience increased stress levels often deal with this in unhealthy ways such as by overeating, consuming unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes, or abusing drugs and alcohol.

Self-awareness enables an individual to identify the things that lead to a stressful state of mind and actively works together to find better and healthier ways of coping with stress. A person would need to assess their state of mind throughout the day. If stress occurs, the cause of stress should be written down. Once the issue is determined, it is important to develop a plan to address it. That might mean setting more reasonable expectations or seeking help from others with regards to household responsibilities, job assignments or other tasks. A list should be put together including all commitments, priorities and thereafter, eradicate any tasks that are non – essential.

Step 2: Assess your communication habits

Once the causes of stress have been identified, it is necessary to assess the way work and communication with colleagues is carried out. Effective communication and working style could establish a better connection between colleagues, managers and customers. Bring up light, interesting subjects and get a conversation going. This can be valuable for productivity and stress release.

Relationships can be a source of stress. Negative and hostile reactions towards your spouse can cause instantaneous changes in stress-sensitive hormones. However, relationships can also serve as stress relievers. It is important to reach out to family members or close friends, especially during stressful moments. They may be able to offer practical support, useful ideas or simply a fresh outlook on life in terms of overcoming stress.

Being connected continuously via a cell phone or laptop twenty-four hours a day has its own set of stressors. Employees should say yes more often when co-workers offer help on a big project or are willing to work together. This will ease the workload, allowing the employee to remain organised and on time, which will allow for a more productive workflow. Staying on time with a to-do list is important for success. In the digital age, the notion of writing out tasks for the day might seem tedious, wasteful and unnecessary, however it is still rather critical in tracking daily, weekly and monthly events.

Step 3: Do more for yourself

Stress levels are determined by the day to day practices and routines. Breaking bad habits and adopting good habits can assist in stress relief. There should be designated breaks built into the work schedule. Continuously sitting in a chair for an entire workday without breaks leads to stress on the job. Regular walks, stretches, coffee/tea breaks and lunch breaks are encouraged, as it gives an employee time to clear their mind, which reduces stress.

Devote time to physical, mental and emotional self-maintenance. A healthy diet and regular exercise, together with a good self-image can prepare an individual to successfully deal with stress. Stress keeps more than 40% of adults lying awake at night. To ensure that the suggested seven or eight hours of sleep are achieved, caffeine intake should be reduced, distractions such as television or computers should be removed from the bedroom and bedtime should be set at the same time each night. Activities like yoga and relaxation exercises not only help reduce stress, but also boost immune functioning.

Uzialko, A.C. 2017. 3 Steps to eliminate workplace stress. (Online). Available at: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8129-stress-reduction-tips.html (Accessed 18 May 2018).

Krantz, D.S., Thorn, B., and Kiecolt-Glaser, J. 2013. How stress affects your health. The American Psychological Association's Practice Directorate. (Online). Available at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx. Accessed 24 April 2018).