Everyone would have experienced stress at some point in their life. Some good stress can keep us on our toes to be more motivated, energetic and enhances performance and productivity. However, some of us would have experienced bad stress which has demotivated us and has left us to be edgy and could be harmful to our health. Bad stress can lead us to develop anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has social and economic impacts on individuals and country levels. Travel restrictions, school closures, stay-at-home quarantine and social distancing have led to loss of employment and reduced workforce across most economic sectors.
This has led to a lot of stress, anxiety and depression especially among employees and employers. Stress is often caused by stressful events such as job loss, argument with a friend, financial and marital problems. Stress is often short term. On the other hand, anxiety and depression is a chemical imbalance in our brain, genetic predisposition, may not have an identifiable trigger and it last longer than it should.
Signs of Stress & Anxiety at the workplace
Whether you are an employee or an employer, it is important to notice the signs that you or your colleagues are unable to handle your workplace stress. This can include:
- Low productivity or low motivation in work-related tasks.
- Regular absences or frequently taking medical leave.
- Insomnia or disrupted sleeping schedule.
- Irritability or uncontrollable outbursts of anger.
- Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol to help cope with the demands of the workplace.
- Persistent feelings of unworthiness, underappreciated etc.
- Negative and defensive about their work.
Signs of Depression in the Workplace
Depression is characterized by different symptoms which might affect you at work. It can affect individuals differently. The signs of depression at work can include but are not limited to:
- Loss of motivation at workplace.
- Persistent low mood for more than 2 weeks.
- Difficulty managing stress at workplace, which can lead to the stress affecting you outside of work - e.g., being too stressed to find time for yourself to exercise or socialise.
- Difficulty making decision at work - e.g., finding it hard to focus or lacking self-confidence.
- Crying spells.
- Having sense of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.
- Social isolation such as withdrawal from social interaction with colleagues.
- Being late to work.
The following methods to relieve stress and anxiety are worth trying as they have been shown to be effective in some patients. They are also useful in addition to medication and psychotherapy.
- Exercise regularly at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Exercise encourages release of endorphins which makes you feel relaxed and happy.
- Get a good night’s sleep with proper sleep hygiene. E.g., have a regular bedtime routine, ensure a pleasant sleep environment and ensure appropriate diet before bedtime.
- Mindful Breathing exercises help distract your mind from overthinking. Deep belly breathing to reset ourselves from being overwhelmed with a particular task or situation.
- Practise relaxation techniques e.g. Listen to music, go for a massage, yoga etc.
- Take a short break in between work
- Reward yourself for staying on task. Reward is associated with dopamine release which keeps us focused.
- Take a day off to take care of your mental health
- Journaling triggers of stressors can help us to take proactive measures to reduce stress.
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