How to Deal With Work Stress in a Healthy Way

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Everyone experiences stress. It's one of the most common human responses. When confronted with a disagreement, a controversy, or any form of ambiguity, the typical response is what we call "fight or flight." The time we spend deciding what we're going to do, whether we're going to fight or just run, is what causes stress, and the longer it takes us to make that decision, the more agitated we feel.

Things aren't much different when it comes to work stress. Many jobs, by definition, entail more stress than others. An ER doctor, for example, must make swift decisions, and each one could literally mean the difference between life and death. As a result, working stress is not always a bad thing.

What is truly horrible is gaslighting: working in an environment with no sense of accountability, where all of your feelings are undercut and ignored. Phrases such as 'you're overreacting,' 'I think you're too gentle on yourself, 'maybe you simply need to try harder,' and 'maybe you're not good enough' are likely indicative of a work climate that does not prioritize mental health and instead produces extra (usually unneeded) stress.

Signs of Work Stress

Before delving deeper into the organizational power dynamics that cause stress, it's critical to recognize the indicators of job stress, as many people struggle to define their feelings and label their symptoms.

To begin with, not everyone who is stressed is aware of it. People who openly express themselves are usually the ones that suffer the least, since they confirm their emotional state rather than suppressing it, and they are completely capable of expressing themselves as well. Simply put, when you let the stress out, it doesn't stay in, which is a positive thing.

On the other hand, some people are unaware that they are stressed, even though they may be experiencing sleeping difficulties, a lack of energy, fatigue, hair loss, acne, and sexual difficulties, without realizing that all of these symptoms are the result of their underlying, extensive stress.

Workplace stress is unique in that it can last for a long time before we realize there is something wrong. We are so used to concepts like 'no pain, no gain' and 'whatever means necessary' that we almost expect work stress as part of our professional experience, as if having a work-life balance or enjoying work is wrong and we don't deserve the promotion/bonus/raise because of it.

If this stress is not addressed, it can progress to burnout syndrome, which is characterized by a complete breakdown of our physical, emotional, and intellectual states. When burnout syndrome is not treated, it can progress to depression.

Causes of Work Stress

Employees require stability and transparency in the workplace. They must understand where they stand and what to expect. They require stability, respect, and clarity above all. As a result, any situation that does not strengthen these factors has the potential to cause stress.

Work stress can be caused by a variety of factors, however, the following are the most common for most people:

1. Lack of Structure

Workplaces with no obvious seniority or hierarchy, no organizational chart, role descriptions that are vague, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
People's livelihoods are typically highly dependent on their jobs. As a result, not understanding where you stand, where you're heading, or what you need to do to succeed and progress can be a major source of job stress.

2. Toxic Cultures

Gossip, unethical competitiveness among coworkers, and degrading behaviors are just a few instances of a culture that, if not actively, at least indirectly, creates stress for its personnel.

3. Weak or Problematic Leadership

A boss who is not a leader but merely a manager, a narcissist who tries to impose themselves on others, or even a laissez-faire supervisor who never has their subordinate's back are all situations that mislead people, leaving them wondering what their behavior should be and how they should act, when it is not really their responsibility to begin with.

4. Lack of Vision

A corporation that lacks a strategy or a defined vision might cause significant stress. The reason for this is that individuals must be aware of what they are signing up for.

Constant changes with little rationale, canceling jobs or even entire projects at the last minute and replacing them with others, and valuing new attributes each day are all symptoms of a lack of a true plan. What could be more stressful than working for a firm that has no plan?

5. Financial Instability

When a company, a market, or an industry suffers financially, it naturally has an impact on people's well-being. At the same time, many organizations may be growing while remaining financially insecure towards their assets, not due to a lack of funds, but due to financial mismanagement and poor organization.

In any event, most people labor not only to develop their personalities but also to make a living. As a result, even if someone receives the whole amount agreed upon, 'spontaneous' payments and inconsistencies might generate tension.

6. Breach in the Psychological Contract

While a financial contract with an organization covers all aspects of remuneration and duty, a psychological contract is an entirely distinct idea.

We join a new workplace not only for what is written on paper, but also for what they lead us to believe is true for them based on their employer branding, how they promote themselves as employers, and what they told us during the recruitment process. When one or more of these things are discovered to be false or wrong, we have a breach in the psychological contract, which leads to skepticism, quiet quitting, and job stress.

Having said that, stress is primarily beneficial when directed in the appropriate manner.

How to Deal With Work Stress in a Healthy Way

If the ambiguity in your workplace is causing you stress, you can set more firm boundaries. If it bothers you that everyone talks behind everyone else's back, you should refrain from participating until they start leaving you out of it. If your problem is toxic leadership, perhaps it's time to start looking for something else.

Because the environment adapts as we change, we always have more power than we realize to effect and create positive change.

At the same time, we must redouble our efforts while conserving energy. Is this job truly worthwhile?

If the answer is yes, you adapt and find a way to make it work by not taking it personally and focusing solely on what you can gain from this experience; the lessons you can learn, the network you can build, and the paycheck you need to do the things you have to do until you can do the things you want to do.

If the answer is no, keep in mind that we all have limited quantities of compromise energy, and if you waste it on the wrong incident (like a job you'll forget about in 10 years), you'll be unable to use it when the perfect thing comes along and you need it.

Obviously, these behaviors are complex and most likely distinct from our regular mode of operation. You don't wake up one day knowing what's important, how not to take things personally, how to separate yourself from work, and focus on your own agenda and experience throughout your professional career.

There are two conceivable outcomes for this transformation:

I. Quick Tips to Help With Work Stress

On the practical side of the topic, here are some quick tips that can help with work stress:


When we find ourselves in an emotional state from which we cannot recover, a shock may be just what we require to go ahead. Washing our hands with cool (even freezing) water and, if feasible, our faces can help us decompress quickly and resume clear thinking.


There are many free sounds available online that can help you decrease work stress as long as you listen to them while working. Most of them have calming background noises, such as rain or wind, to make you feel cozy and relaxed.


When it comes to stress alleviation, some people find that yoga and pilates are the greatest options.

If your stress is accompanied by stronger emotions such as fury, something more active, such as martial arts or dance, may be more appropriate. Running is generally quite beneficial for most people since it causes the brain to clear and restart.


Don't be scared to discuss your workplace difficulties. Your friends, partner, or even coworkers should be your support system, and you don't have to face your issues alone.

Even expressing ourselves and voicing what we're thinking can make us feel better.


If your job causes you a lot of stress, you should develop a routine that allows you to reset your internal clock; this is something you can do to feel comfortable and at ease.

Bubble baths, meticulous tea making, and long car rides are all excellent stress-relieving activities.

II. Mindset Shift

There is much further advice to provide about managing work stress, but at this point, it makes sense to focus on the deeper, more psychological side of the problem and something that, if understood and followed, can be a game changer: be more than your title.

Patricia Linville, a scholar, proposed the theory that knowledge of oneself is represented through numerous aspects of oneself in 1987.

On the one hand, there is high self-complexity, in which the aspects of self are many and differentiated (they do not overlap), while on the other hand, there is low self-complexity, in which the aspects of self are few and undifferentiated (they overlap.)

Linville claims that people with low self-complexity have more powerful sensations (good or negative) when something bad happens to them than people with high self-complexity.

In summary, the more multifaceted a person is, the less emphasis they place on specific areas of their personality, and the more single-minded a person is, the greater the intensity they experience from the few facets of their existence.

Consider a man who is single and works as a lawyer in a large corporation. If this man has no other sources of self-worth, he will most likely feel adrift, with no purpose and no identity if he loses his employment. At the same time, if this man is a lawyer, a spouse, a father who spends his weekends paragliding and has a strong interest in art, even if he loses his job, these other aspects of his personality, or even better, alternative identities, will give him the self-confidence he needs to move on and find another job.

We will, of course, concentrate on one aspect of our existence.

Final Thoughts

Our task is critical. Most of us identify with our jobs; we may even enjoy them; they can provide us with independence, self-esteem, and emotional support. Still, it is insufficient.

More is required. We need more because we are more, and we should not be frightened or guilty of embracing all of our internal elements, no matter how contradictory or unproductive they may seem, because only by balancing all of our inner identities can we be stress-free and joyful.

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