Lots of people complain of feeling over-stressed at work. Most jobs these days require a high degree of responsibility and therefore stress. A small dose of stress can increase productivity and drive. But at a certain point, stress turns from a normal occurrence into a potentially serious health problem.
The negative health outcomes associated with high stress levels are well documented. Everything from increased risk of heart disease, asthma, depression, obesity, Alzheimer's, and gastrointestinal problems have been linked to prolonged high levels of stress.
The key first step to finding relief from your stress is to actually identify that you're experiencing it. Here are five symptoms (in no particular order) of being too stressed at work. If you've noticed many of these in yourself, it might be worthwhile took seek out a solution.
1. You can't sleep
You're up late laying in bed worrying about the a big meeting the next day. You're waking up throughout the night and not getting back to sleep. Especially if this is a recent phenomenon, it might be due to work-related troubles.
2. You have severe headaches along with chest, neck, and shoulder tension
Have painful knots and sore spots in your neck, shoulders and upper back? This could be a sign of work related stress. Tension from stress can also manifest itself as chest pain or severe headaches --- including migraines. If you're constantly taking Advil or needing regular massages, you might want to look at the root cause of this pain instead of merely treating the symptoms.
3. You're constantly sick
If it seems like you've always got a cold or the sniffles, allergies or bacteria might not be to blame. When you're stressed out, your immune system will not be able to function as it should and fight off these ailments. Taking medicine every day? Feeling better one day only to have the sickness return the next? Your stress levels might be to blame.
Stress can also lead to stomach and digestive issues including chronic heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
4. Your attention span is suffering
Wait.. what is this post about again? Constantly losing your train of thought? Mind wandering quickly from one thought to the next? This might be a sign of work related stress. Stress has been called the enemy of attention --- and for good reason. Stress impacts the neurons required to perform memory related tasks. If your brain is clogged with stress it will often show in your concentration, attention, and cognitive performance.
5. You've increased your drinking
Increasing drinking can be a sign of trouble at the office. Perhaps you're making a habit of leaving early so you don't miss a minute of happy hour? Maybe your having a few drinks at lunch and trying to manage the rest of the day. Another common symptom is blaming increased drinking on an authoritarian boss. If you think you're job is causing you to turn to excessive alcohol consumption or other drug use, you could certainly be managing your feelings in a healthier, more constructive way.
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood and Hoboken, NJ. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.