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What Is Occupational Stress?

Stress related to the workplace is referred to as occupational stress.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2014
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Occupational stress is a term used to define ongoing stress that is related to the workplace. The stress may have to do with the responsibilities associated with the work itself, or be caused by conditions that are based in the corporate culture or personality conflicts. As with other forms of tension, occupation stress can eventually affect both physical and emotional well being if not managed effectively.

Stress is an inherent factor in any type of vocation or career. At its best, the presence of stress can be a motivator that urges the individual to strive for excellence. However, excess amounts of stress can lead to a lack of productivity, a loss of confidence, and the inability to perform routine tasks. As a result, quality employees lose their enthusiasm for their work and eventually withdraw from the company.

When left unchecked, occupational stress can lead to emotional and physical disorders that began to impact personal as well as professional lives. The individual may develop a level of tension that interferes with sleep, making relaxing outside the workplace impossible. Over time, the stress can trigger emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression and in some cases various phobias that further inhibit the ability to enjoy any aspect of living.

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During the middle of the 20th century, employers began to initiate programs to help reshape corporate cultures in an effort to minimize the amount of productive stress found in the workplace. For many companies, this meant developing an occupational stress definition that relevant to the individual business and the working environment as it was currently constituted. With the working definition in place, employers began to utilize resources such as confidential reporting methods, professional counseling, and employee committees to identify areas where the corporate climate could be enhanced and reduce stress levels at the same time.

Over the years, the tools used to identify and effectively deal with occupational stress have continued to evolve. Today, there is a standard occupational stress index that is used in many stress management programs to assess the potential for negative stress to undermine one or more employees. There are also various incarnations of an occupational stress indicator listing that can help individuals determine if general conditions have the potential to lead to unhealthy stress levels.

In response to tools such as the occupational stress scale, counseling and employee training programs often include individual and group counseling opportunities. These programs seek to teach employers and employees how to look at the workplace objectively, then take steps to contain or eliminate factors that are highly likely to undermine the confidence and function of employees. As a result, the company enjoys a higher level of productivity and the employee enjoys a more positive work environment within a company that is more likely to provide employment for many years to come.

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Discuss this Article

comfyshoes
Post 4

Oasis11- One way to reduce stress is to get involved in a high intensity workout. Working out briskly elevates the heart rate and eventually it sends messages to the brain to release endorphins.

These endorphins allow you to feel that “Runner’s high” and allow you to experience a sense of calm and well being.

It also clears your mind and lets you think clearly which usually does not happen when you are stressed.

It also allows you to sleep better which will let you perform your job with a certain level of alertness that you did not have.

You can also develop a hobby or take a class in this pursuit. Taking a new language class or a painting class might be fun.

Also, painting requires a certain level of concentration that will force you to focus on the painting and nothing else.

Activities that force you to concentrate can also relieve your stress because you are forced to take your mind off your troubles.

This is why yoga is so effective in relieving stress. Yoga is an intense series of concentrated stretches that force the participant to focus on each moment of each exercise in order to perform the poses correctly.

Many people have raved about the effects that yoga has had on them and as a result they become addicted to it.

oasis11
Post 3

Mutsy- Nurses are sometimes called out in high stress situations in which the doctor needs them to stabilize a patient, or if a patient is going into labor.

They always have to remain calm regardless of how they feel inside. This can also take a toll and create stress and anxiety on off duty days.

There is a great book on research in occupational stress and well being by Pamela Derrewe and Daniel Ganster entitled, “Historical and Current Perspectives on Stress and Health.”

It is an eight volume study of stress reduction the workplace and different strategies to cope with it. It also measures stress outside the workplace and how that can interfere with work related tasks.

mutsy
Post 2

SauteePan- I totally agree. I think that the occupational stress in nursing is very high because it is a demanding field that requires twelve hour shifts and not everyone appreciates your effort.

Sometimes you have unruly patients, or patients that are suffering from anxiety because they are scared that they are in a hospital and take it out on the nurse.

Nurses are usually there to comfort families when they receive difficult news regarding a loved one as well. They sometimes bond with patients and then they are released.

In addition, due to the nature of this job, nurses are often faced with their own mortality because patients also die. This can also be heartbreaking for many nurses which may eventually lead to stress burnout.

This field takes a high degree of compassion because it is a calling and something that not everyone can do.

SauteePan
Post 1

Symptoms of stress include the inability to concentrate, the inability to sleep, development of anxiety and a high level of irritability.

In addition, the stress symptoms also produce physical ailments like headaches, neck pain, and back pain. In some cases chronic stress might lead to losing your hair and appetite.

Managing stress is important because if not it could lead to stress burnout that may make you underperform and even lose your job. It is best to examine the source of the stress.

If the stress is related to a person at work, like your boss it is best to examine how you can improve the relationship. If this is not possible for you, then it is time to look for work elsewhere because the constant stress will do significant damage to your mental health and sense of well being.

Sometimes you might be able to work in a different location and ask for a transfer. However, you really need to examine what the source of stress is logically because if not you are bound to repeat the situation in another job.

Maybe it is not the supervisor but the uncertainty of the company or even the industry as a whole. If this is the case, that the industry is troubled, then it would make sense to shift gears and look for a different occupation and maybe go back to school part time in order to seek a different career path.

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