What Causes Stress at Work And How to Beat It

February 25, 2019

There are so many different stressors that affect our daily lives. And there is no question that many stressors originate in our workplaces. Do you know what causes stress at work? And an even more critical issue, how can you better cope with stress at work? In this blog article, you will find a list of stress factors related to working life. You will also get practical and straightforward advice on how to beat the stress.

Stress Has Many Faces

There is one thing you should know - not all stress is harmful. There are actually three types of stress:

• Distress is negative stress that a person feels is threatening.

• Eustress is "good stress." Eustress helps us finish our demanding tasks seconds before the deadline and gives us motivation.

• Neustress lays between the distress and eustress and does not create a particularly good or bad feeling.


Everything depends on whether the stress is temporary or continuous. If stress is temporary, we can tolerate it much better. It is usually short-term stress, which often acts as good stress (i.e., eustress) increasing motivation and enthusiasm.

Long-term stress is the one affecting our health and causing various illnesses. 


What Causes Stress at Work?

Our lives are full of different stressors.

"Situations that are likely to cause stress are those that are unpredictable or uncontrollable, uncertain, ambiguous or unfamiliar or involving conflict, loss or performance expectations." Michie, S. Causes and Management of Stress at Work.

There are many stress factors at work. 

The stress factors associated with the work environment are:

• Bad physical conditions

• Long working days

• Lack of breaks

• Lack of variation

• Too much work

• Time pressure

• Difficult or complex tasks.


The social and organizational aspects of stress are:

• Unclear tasks

• Contradictory roles and limitations

• Responsibility for other people

• Career development opportunities

• Uncertainty about job stability

• Relationships in the workplace.


As we experience stress in different ways, then these stressors affect us differently. Even if the situation is the same for everybody the first person may get stressed because of lack of variation, second because of time pressure, third because of responsibility for other people and fourth because of relationships in the workplace. We are all unique, and therefore even the workplace stressors influence us each uniquely.

How To Beat Stress at Work?

You may have found a few (if you are lucky and many if you are not) stressors already. What can you do now?

Just focus on one at a time and start asking questions. That's right – asking.

You may ask, "What can I do to change this situation?". You ask this question and listen to your inner voice (some call it "internal wisdom," some "intuition," some "subconscious mind" and some "consciousness." Sometimes you hear this inner voice right away; sometimes it can take time. How does it work? You may notice an advertisement for a book about this particular subject, or one of your friends may start to talk about this issue, or you may even hear a conversation on the street. It can be one of these things that get you thinking, or something entirely different.

You can also ask the question: "Who can I talk to about getting some help?" The first person who comes to mind is usually the one you should ask. It is the person your subconscious mind (consciousness, inner wisdom, intuition) offers you. The ones following that first person are usually the wild guesses that your mind has produced. Never trust those as they usually come from a limited calculation or estimation as "Jake has a master's degree, he should know about it." Please trust your inner knowledge and ask. You may be surprised.

However, there is one question that I do not recommend. Which one? This question is "Why?". That word requires that you focus on the cause. And therefore you focus on WHY some things happened and dwell on this constantly. Asking this question doesn't get you anywhere, and the situation doesn't change in any way.  

Instead, you could ask, "Can I do something?". This question guides your thoughts (and subconscious mind) to find a solution. And once you have found the answer (or even several of them) you can remove this stress factor from your life.

Even as stress can cause serious illness, it can do so only when you let it become chronic. Be aware of what kind of stressors are lurking at your work and tackle them before your stress becomes long-term. 


stress, stress management, work stress