Managing Job Stress

June 23, 2016


Do you have job stress?  Sometimes it can be overwhelming at work.  You may feel out of control frustrated, and confused.  This kind of stress can affect your health and performance.  


When you feel stress, your body goes into flight or fight mode.  Whether the stress is real or imagined, you body triggers the survival system. So adrenaline and cortisol and other chemicals enter your blood stream and cause your muscles to tense and heart rate to increase.  A small level of stress is needed to help motivate us to complete tasks and reach our goals, but when stress is chronically high, then you could be in serious risk for health and emotional problems.


Physical signs of stress include:

  • exhaustion

  • overeating or undereating

  • restless sleep

  • high blood pressure

  • headaches

Emotional signs of stress include:

  • frustration

  • worrying

  • low self-esteem

  • irritability 

  • sense of incompetence 

Behavioral signs of stress include:  

  • calling in sick

  • yelling 

  • gossiping at work

  • sending out inappropriate emails

  • taking longer lunches

  • arriving late to work

  • leaving work early

  • turning in tasks late

There are many reasons people feel stress on the job.  Understanding the causes of job stress is one of the key ways of learning how to respond to it.  Causes of work stress may include:


Working Conditions

  • Too many things to do

  • Uncomfortable working area

  • Too noisy, messy, or crowded


  • Take time during the day to clean up your area

  • Clean as you go

  • Ask for tips from a coworker who seems good at their time management

  • Learn to say no and ask for help

  • Reserve a conference room for important tasks


Changes at Job

  • Mergers

  • New management

  • Layoffs


  • Talk to a trusted friend 

  • Talk with HR

  • Find opportunities

  • Take on different projects

  • Change your schedule

  • Work in a different area

  • Move with the change and don't resist too hard


Relationships with Coworkers

  • Difficult personalities 

  • Difference of opinions

  • Gossiping


  • Use active listening skills

  • Make eye contact

  • Find a quiet place to talk

  • Summarize their points

  • Identify your communication style and refine it

  • Communicate in person than in an email


Personal Life

health, relationships, finances, domestic violence, and substance abuse can add to job stress



  • Let go of perfection

  • Eat balanced meals, exercise regularly and get rest

  • Practice deep breathing 

  • Notice your feelings and accept them

  • Reduce the substance use cycle

  • Talk to a counselor or trusted friend

  • Contact your employee assistance program


When it may be time to move on.  If you have implemented the above-mentioned suggestions and stress has not reduced, ask yourself these questions:


1) Do you feel like you want to quit your job?

2) Do you find yourself bored with your work on a regular basis?

3) Have you lost your enthusiasm for your job?

4) Are you having more and more conflicts with coworkers, supervisor, or manager?


You may be in a situation to change.  Think about job opportunities and start asking others about how they found their place of employment.   


This information is not intended to diagnose or take the lace of medical advice or care you receive from your physician or health care professional.  If you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor.  


From Kaiser Permanente Medical Group Health Education Center resources













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Natalie A. Ma, PhD

p: 415-779-5887

f: 888-488-6423


870 Market Street, Suite 880, SF CA 94102

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