For most, meeting the demands of life and work is an ongoing necessity in any adult’s life. In the US, most individuals are employed in companies and industries that require at least a five-day workweek with a minimum of eight hours per day. Some industries, such as those in healthcare and law enforcement, may actually require more days and hours on a consistent basis. Workers can empower themselves by minimizing their level of stress in the workplace by obtaining as much help and information on the subject as possible. Luckily, there are a plethora of books on coping with a stressful work environment.
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The stresses of work demands can cause a myriad of physical, emotional and mental problems for any employee. For instance, workers in industries that require a lot of repetitive motion, often experience great physical stress on their bodies in the form of orthopedic and repetitive motion diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Industries that have constant deadlines in pressure-cooker environments can cause workers to experience anxiety and depression along with feelings of self-doubt and frustration when struggling with oftentimes impossible and unreasonable deadlines.
Coping with Work-Related Stress
Work-related stress has long been a topic of concern for researchers and scientists in human resources and work psychology. The goal of this research over the years has been to help companies determine how to maximize worker productivity and job satisfaction, while keeping worker absenteeism and turnover rates at a minimum. Employers can benefit by conducting their own research on topics such as balancing work and life demands, flextime or options for maintaining flexible work alternatives and current employment legislation by federal and local governments.
Like employers, workers can also benefit by conducting their own research on work topics such as flexible work and stress management at work. Many workers can find much needed help by looking at books on coping with a stressful work environment. Here are just a few to get you started.
Five Good Minutes at Work: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Relieve Stress & Bring Your Best to Work, by Jeffrey, M.D. Brantley and Wendy Millstine (2007)
This 251-page book is well written and easy to read. The book is only 6 inches by 6 inches so it can be placed in your desk at work and pulled out quickly when you need a pick me up. This book is part of the popular series of Five Good Minutes at Work books that help people cope with work situations. This installment is packed with 100 tips for practicing techniques such as positive visualizations, meditation and positive affirmations to create a more peaceful environment when at work. If you are looking for the less theoretical and need some concrete exercises that you can follow, then this is a good step to get your mind on the track to peacefulness.
In 208 pages, the authors give an in-depth discussion about workload, fairness at work, having values about your job and work ethic and dealing with burnout. The book has worksheets and exercises that first help you assess how you view your present relationship with work and identify what areas are presenting stress on you and need improvement. Later on, the book presents worksheets on how to gain rewards out of your work experience and to prevent burning out throughout your career.
Stop Living Your Job, Start Living Your Life: 85 Simple Strategies to Achieve Work/Life Balance, by Andrea Molloy (2005)
All 208 pages of this book give you constructive advice and easy ways to balance the stressful demands of work and life. Chapter titles are proactively entitled, “Get Focused,” “Get Organized,” “Don’t Get Stressed,” “Get Connected,” and “Get Going," making the writing fun and easy-going yet incredibly encouraging. There are also interactive tools and exercise sheets included that help you organize your workspace and life-space.
Maslach and Leiter give an alternative view of employee burnout in this 200-page book. This is one of the more interesting books on coping with a stressful work environment. Their view is that work-related stress and burnout is not problem that originates and ends with the employee. Instead, burnout is a mismatch between the employee, their job and the environment in which they work. Also, the authors present the view that it’s up to the company to work out a more conducive environment for its stressed out workers by looking ways to equip workers to feel more empowered when performing their jobs and subsequently reducing work-related stress. For instance, the authors show how a company’s investment in employee job training programs can prevent poor performance later down the road. Also, how hiring an additional employee in the present can prevent diminished quality of work and employee absenteeism from overwork later on.
Healthy Work: Stress Productivity And The Reconstruction Of Working Life, by Robert Karasek and Tores Theorell (1992)
In this 398-page, these authors study the psycho-social aspects of different types of jobs in various industries. The authors categorize jobs into high-strain, low-strain, active and passive jobs. They group these jobs by occupation and also compare these types of jobs among men and women. Next, the book explores various work environments and their contributions to stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. In later chapters, the authors introduce the “health-oriented job redesign process” and suggest that companies design job functions and descriptions around matching the personality and psychology of the worker to more accurately fit the psychological and social needs of the job type within the organization. The authors are Swedish academicians and present a novel point of view from an American and European perspective. It is interesting to read about and form your own opinion on some novel approaches (some of which are being tried) to the work-stress issue.
Points to Ponder
Work-related stress can be a real problem for companies and their employees if not dealt with in a comprehensive manner. Both companies and individuals should share in the responsibility of fostering healthy work environments, maintaining positive work relationships between management and employees and employees and co-workers. Work-related stress can be physical, emotional and mental and if left unmanaged can lead to decreased job satisfaction and productivity and increased absenteeism and turnover. For these reasons, work-related stress and work-life balance are important issues in the workplace that must be studied and dealt with by all stakeholders involved. Fortunately, there exists many books on coping with a stressful work environment. These materials along with research is helpful to all parties involved for developing plans to combat excessive stress and anxiety in the workplace.
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