Recognising you are stressed is often very difficult until you actually have symptoms. Even then you attribute the symptoms to something else and don’t do anything to change your situation and therefore reduce the stress. So what happens is that it builds up gradually (while we’re trying to push through our life, or go around it!) and we don’t realise we are stressed until it has such a hold on us that we are almost incapable of doing anything about it.

This is when we break down at work one day, often over some very minor thing, and have to go home. Or we have a minor car accident because we just didn’t see the car we ran directly into. Or we literally just can’t get out of bed one morning to go to work because we are so fatigued. Or we make a very serious error at work that we wouldn’t normally make. Or the worst scenario, we completely lose all perspective so great is the stress and unable to cope anymore, attempt to, or do, take our own life.

A Few of the Indications that We are Stressed.

* You are constantly in “overwhelm” mode with no indication that anything will change in the foreseeable future.

* You are irritable, short and intolerant with everyone much of the time.

* You are constantly tired and fatigued, even when you have had a good sleep.

* You are taking more days off work with on-going minor, but genuine, illnesses.

* You are constantly having minor accidents – near misses in the car, running into the back of someone’s car, cutting your finger, tripping over, running into a door – all due to lack of concentration.

* You don’t want to go to work because

  – of a difficult manager

  – low morale in the organisation,

  – no longer committed to the job and need a change,

  – bullying, harassment, victimisation from other staff.

* You are working very long hours and taking work home every night and at week-ends.

* You are experiencing physical pain in your body but nothing shows up in tests.

* You are not sleeping, or you go to sleep but wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep.

* You are drinking more alcohol than normal, eating more cakes and chocolate or smoking more.

* You are becoming negative and depressed about everything and have a great sense of powerlessness to change anything.

* You are having headaches, even migraines, which are not normal for you.

* You are constantly anxious and apprehensive inside.

* Day and night, you are completely pre-occupied and worried about something you are having to do at work.

* You are skipping meals and when you do eat you eat junk.

* You haven’t time for people, either family or friends.

So, If Any of This is You, What Do You Do?

1. Stop, Look and Listen.

You have to stop, step back and get some perspective. You have to begin to take control of your life before something or someone else does.

Look at what is happening to you and realise that you can’t keep living your life this way. Acknowledge that you are not working very effectively or productively anyway at this moment.

Listen to what the people who care about you are saying because if you are experiencing what is written above then those close to you will be concerned about what is happening to you – even if you’re not acknowledging it yet.

Take a half day or a full day off work. Give yourself a commitment free week-end. Go sit in the park or take a walk along the beach. Better still take some holidays. Spend some honest time with yourself – without the comfort (and distraction) of the glass of wine, chocolate bar or a cigarette.


Most people who are experiencing the symptoms above will not acknowledge that they are stressed. In fact they are often annoyed when someone suggests it, as if it is a slight on their competence. Yet everyone around them can see they are stressed in the way they are acting and behaving.

So the first step in changing is acknowledging that family, friends and supportive colleagues are seeing you more clearly than you are seeing yourself at this point in time – and doing what they suggest. Take some time off.

Of course, you will say that you can’t afford the time. Sometimes it is difficult to take time off when you know you should because of a particular commitment. Temporary responses you can make in these situations:

Organise a break, ideally in the next 4-6 weeks. Diary it and determine to let nothing get in its way.

Release the pressure by taking small “breaks”. Take a lunch break and get out of the office. Stand up from your desk periodically and stretch and do some shoulder and neck exercises that relax you.

Make a decision to be out of the office by 6 p.m. at the latest every night and don’t come to the office before 8.30 at the earliest in the morning. Stop taking work home at night and at the week-ends. This will all begin to make small differences until you can take some leave.

These are short term strategies, not long term solutions.

2. Make Sure the Break is Stress Free.

A “touristy” holiday is not what is needed. Neither will a holiday at some ritzy hotel with lots of wine and fine rich food help. What is wanted is a break to unwind and stress down with no commitments or time tables. Sometimes you can do this at home. Sometimes a B & B in the country is a better option.

3. Re-assess Your Life and What’s Important.

What’s driving you? What price are you paying for it? Is it worth what you are paying for it?

What are you gaining living your life as you are? What are you missing out on?

Put first things first.

If you can’t do this reassessment by yourself go and see a professional counsellor and work it through with him/her. Make decisions to change your life.

Decide what you can change. Work out what you need to do to change those things.

Determine the things that are outside your control and which you can’t change. Decide how you will respond to those things in a way that doesn’t stress/distress you.

Develop new work habits – how to work smarter, not longer and harder. Learn what you need to learn to do differently. Get a coach to help you  – at least in the short term.

4. Start Putting Your Health and Well-Being First.

Diet – eat as much natural, unprocessed food as possible. A protein rich diet is very helpful with stress. Consider vitamin supplements – at least as a short term measure. Cut the caffeine, alcohol, sugar, fat. Drink lots of water.

Exercise – a great stress reliever. Find exercise that fits your life-style.

Relaxation – teach yourself to switch off. Learn some strategies. Find a hobby, sport or activity that takes you into a different space where you relax and let go.

5. “Cement” the Change in Your Life.

You know what cement does. It hardens and provides extra strong support. It’s not easy to move. This is what you have to do with the changes you make in your life to ensure you manage the stress that is part of all our professional and business lives today. We can’t avoid it. We can only manage it effectively. Develop strategies to ensure you don’t slip backwards.

Dr. Maree Harris. PhD. is the Director of People Empowered. As a workshop presenter and facilitator, she is committed to empowering people to create the personal and professional lives they desire. She is the author of “You Empowering You for Personal and Professional Success”. Visit her website at and subscribe to her free mailing list to receive your complimentary copy.

“In the wake of the recent recession, many workers have experienced increased levels of stress either due to increased workloads or economic insecurity. Although a certain amount of stress is to be expected, stress in the workplace can be costly because it affects not only workers’ well-being but also companies’ bottom lines,” reports AOL Jobs.

Additionally, workers who have increased stress levels may be more likely to sustain work related injuries – particularly around the holidays when many people are working overtime and trying to wrap up year-end commitments.

In fact, a recent Accountemps study found the following:

– 25% of workers indicated that the holiday season is “somewhat more challenging” and 14% found it “much more challenging”
– Almost 25% or workers indicated that their workloads are “much too heavy” or “somewhat too heavy” (29%).
– Less than half of workers do not notice a difference, saying that there is “no difference” in their holiday workload (44%) or that their workload is “just right” (47%).

If you find that you are stressed – during the holiday season or any time – there are steps you can take to reduce your stress levels and decrease your chances of sustaining a work injury. For example,

* Employee Assistance Programs: Contact your HR representative. It is possible that your company offers an employee assistance program to help you deal with work-related stress.
* Exercise: Working out is an excellent way to reduce stress and get in shape. Choosing a work out that focuses on the mind-body connection like yoga is very effective toward controlling stress levels and teaching you relaxation techniques that you can use while you are at work.
* Massage: This is a great way to get some of the tension “worked out” of your body. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to have an hour to yourself to focus on relaxation – free from emails, Blackberrys and other stress-causers.
* Alternative Therapies: There are many “alternative” methods of relaxation that have been practiced for thousands of years. However, many people do not think of them as ways of controlling stress even thought they are perhaps the most effective. Examples include acupuncture and reiki therapy.

The common theme to all the recommendations above is giving yourself a break. Taking preventative measures to control stress levels can help you avoid unhealthy side effects of stress, including work related injuries. While it does not have to be one of the things suggested above, find something that you do for yourself for a short period of time every day. You will most likely notice a difference within the first couple days.

DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Dworkin & Maciariello shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.

The Law Offices Dworkin & Maciariello are Chicago work injury lawyers providing workers compensation representation in the Chicago, Illinois area.


Most of us spend approximately 25% of our adult life working, and with stress in the work place being higher than ever, employers have a legal requirement to ensure they are putting measures in place to deal with work related stress.

Finding ways to relax both in the work place and in recreation time is an excellent way to manage work related stress.

What is Work Related Stress?

While everybody requires a minimum amount of stress in order to perform at optimal levels, when levels of stress continually escalate then it can become dangerous.

When faced with a stressful situation, the body prepares to ‘fight’ or ‘flight’. During this ‘stress response’, hormones, including adrenaline, are released in preparation to deal with the impending situation.

Once the perceived threat has passed then the body’s equilibrium is restored. However, for many people this is not the case.

For some, stress can be encompassed in every aspect of their daily life. It is this prolonged effect of the stress response that can cause the body’s immune system to lower and blood pressure to rise, leading to far more serious consequences.

The physical symptoms of work related stress can include:-

o excessive tiredness

o sleep disturbance

o digestive difficulties

o muscular tension

o dizziness

o headaches

o palpitations

o rapid heart beat

o nausea

o tremors

o aches and pains

o premature ejaculation/erectile dysfunction

o numbness

o dry mouth

o cold sweat

o clammy hands

o abdominal cramps

Added to this there are also emotional and behavioural effects including feelings of an inability to cope, loss of motivation and loss of commitment, low productivity, poor time management, increased absenteeism and unkempt appearance.

The effect of work related stress can cause people to turn to alcohol or drugs. They can become aggressive, irritable, be openly hostile and have angry outbursts.

What Causes Work Related Stress?

Many things can contribute to work related stress and often it is a combination of stressful factors, often going unnoticed, that accumulate over time.

In many case, work related stress is the result of a perceived inability to control a situation.

Stress can arise as a result of the pressure of work, the inability to manage workload, work relationships or organizational structure.

Other common causes include:

o excessive time pressures

o excessive or inflexible working hours

o too much or too little work or responsibility

o confusion about duties and responsibilities

o lack of job variety and interest

o inadequate training and possibilities for learning new skills

o poor work/life balance

o lack of support and lack of contact with colleagues

o organizational confusion, restructuring, job change

Dealing with Work Related Stress

While it is impossible to completely eradicate stress from the workplace, you as an employer can ensure that the negative impact of work related stress is kept to a minimum.

Learning to relax is very important to reducing stress at all levels and an excellent and easy way to achieve this is through massage.

Growing evidence shows that regular massage can reduce stress, relieve muscle tension, soothe the nerves, improve self-esteem, and evoke feelings of calmness and relaxation.

Many organizations recognize these benefits and regularly use the services of on site chair massage therapists allowing employees to have a relaxing break during the working day.

But why stop there, if a ten minute chair massage can have such a positive effect on work related stress, imagine the benefits that could be gained from a full body massage at least once a month.

Whether you as an employer bear the full cost of regular massage for your employees or ask employees to share the cost – It’s in everybody’s interest to eliminate work related stress.


On work related stress and its affects and how to combat any form of stress visit our website at

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