Survival Guide for Work-Related Stress

The American Institute of Stress reported that “Numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders.” (The American Institute of Stress, “Workplace Stress”)


Psychology Today shared that “Some recent events have underscored how pervasive workplace unhappiness and psychologically unhealthy management are in companies today…” and that “there’s no question, management practices can damage the mental health of company’s employees. When unhealthy management and leadership harms employees, it also harms their work performance.” (LaBier, D., Ph.D., August 17, 2010, “Psychologically Unhealthy Work & Management – A Human Rights Violation?”)


So, what are some of the physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms that affects and harms employees and their work performance?


Physical symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Muscular aches/tension and Joint Pain
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight (increase or decrease)
  • Gastrointestinal issues (i.e., diarrhea or constipation)


Psychological symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Depression
  • Pessimistic
  • Irritable
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Feelings of worthlessness, fixation on past failures, or self-blaming
  • Difficulty with handling uncertainties
  • Preoccupation with worry that something dire will happen


Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Aggression, mood swings and/or irritability
  • Interpersonal relationship issues
  • Low tolerance of frustration and impatience
  • Loss of interest or motivation
  • Isolation (often missing work)
  • Poor work performance


What are some of the things that individuals suffering with work-related stress, anxiety, and/or depression can do for themselves? Here are some of the things one can do to make sure you’re on the right track to managing and reducing your stress, anxiety, and/or depression.



How to manage work-related stress:

  • Think, create, and implement a plan on how to reduce and manage your work load so to reduce your stress levels.
  • Meet and discuss your concerns with your supervisor, employer, or human resource manager.
  • Organize yourself by making a list of your tasks in the order of priority. Check with your supervisor or employer as to what tasks takes priority.
  • Schedule a time to take a 15-minute break; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.


How to manage work-related anxiety:

  • Make sure that you get adequate amount of sleep. “Too little sleep affects mood, contributing to irritability and sometimes depression.” (Harvard Health Publishing, “Tips for beating anxiety to get a better night’s sleep”)
  • Think and create a healthy meal plan. Jessica Shelton shared Godfrey’s advice that “The most important dietary change for anyone who has anxiety to make is to plan meals around whole foods, lowering or eliminating the number of processed foods including sweets and snack foods.” (Shelton, J., “8 Foods that Help with Anxiety and Stress”)
  • Find time to exercise. “According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting.” (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Exercise for Stress and Anxiety”)
  • Avoid excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking of tobacco. It has been found that “alcohol or pot may help you cope with stress or anxiety in the short term. But over time, this strategy can backfire – especially if you are using it to cover up or escape from anxiety or other difficult feelings. If fact, research shows that this quick-fix method to self-medicate actually makes things worse, and puts you at greater risk of alcoholism and other problems with substance abuse.” (Anxiety Canada, “Alcohol, Drugs, and Anxiety”)


How to manage work-related depression:

  • Stop and examine if your current position makes you feel motivated to come into work every day.
  • Be honest in your self-examination on whether or not your work environment is a healthy place; is there bullying, discrimination, poor project practices, unclear guidance, and/or poor work conditions (i.e., lack of breaks).
  • Personalize your workspace by bringing in personal items, such as pictures, plants, etc. Being in a cubicle can make one feel boxed in and isolated.
  • Take short body breaks throughout the day to help you unwind and refocus.


If you have tried some of these things but are still experiencing work-related stress, anxiety, and/or depression, despite your best efforts, you may need to consider thinking of a career change or seeking professional therapeutic counseling.


Find a therapist who works with work-related stress, anxiety, and depression:

  • Therapist that provides a safe space for individuals to explore and process their thoughts and emotions.
  • Therapist that provides individuals with skills and tools, such as effective communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and emotional regulation.
  • Therapist, based on their assessment, utilizesCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)to focus and explore irrational or unhelpful cognitive thought patterns so the individual can develop problem solving skills.
  • Therapist, based on their assessment, utilizes Solution-Focused Therapyto assist the individual in creating some coping strategies.


If you feel that your work-related stress, anxiety, and/or depression is impacting your personal life and relationships, give Sync Counseling Center a call or schedule an appointment. Sync Counseling Center provides a safe space for you to talk and explore those thoughts, feelings, and challenges.



Bekke Abe, AMFT helps people in Sierra Madre and Downtown Los Angeles overcome workplace stress, anxiety, and depression. Contact Bekke today for a consultation.