5 Ways Stress Affects Your Work

Too many Americans are suffering from chronic stress. In 2011, the American Psychological Association reported that 44 percent of those surveyed said that their stress had increased in the last five years. More recently, the APA has identified new stressors, including the tendency to constantly check electronic devices.

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We all have tough weeks, sometimes. We get through them. However, chronic stress is another animal altogether. It’s important to find ways to manage and recover from long-term stress. Otherwise, it could start to take a major toll.

1. It impacts decision-making.

You want to make good choices at work. But, stress affects your ability to see situations clearly. Stress can make you overemphasize the benefits of one choice and ignore the drawbacks. Also, it can causes you to act habitually rather than break out of old patterns and blaze new trails.

It simply isn’t as easy to make good decisions when you’re under stress. It could save you time and trouble further down the road to step back and make those choices once you’re feeling more like yourself.

2. It could be making you sick.

Both short- and long-term stress impacts the way you live and feel. But chronic stress, stress that persists and is constant over an extended period of time, is especially harmful, contributing to health conditions like anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.

It might seem difficult to find the time to do what’s necessary to reduce stress, but it could save you a lot of problems (not to mention time away from the office) later on. Taking a day off here and there, finding time for exercise, and getting a little more sleep, for example, could save you many more sick days in the long run.

3. It affects your relationships.

Chronic stress changes the way you see yourself, your life, your future, and even the way you view other people. Feelings of helplessness can lead to heightened sensitivity during interactions with others that could harm your professional relationships.

It’s hard to see things clearly when you’re under stress. Know this, and try to refrain from trusting those feelings when you’re under stress. Instead, wait until you’re feeling better to engage. Your professional relationships will benefit if you do.

4. Everything takes longer.

Stress makes you less productive at work. It hampers your ability to solve problems, communicate with others effectively, and so much more. You might feel like you’re getting a lot done when you rush around from task to task, but there is a lot to be said for settling down a little and focusing on just one thing at a time.

Stress can make it difficult to assess what’s most important and complete those tasks calmly. When you rush or stress or worry, you’re less productive, not more. So, your first priority should be to manage your stress. Then, you can get to work. You’ll be much more productive.

5. It’s making you feel dissatisfied.

No matter how much you enjoy your work, it’s hard to love your job when it’s causing you chronic stress. You may feel less optimistic, more overwhelmed, more run-down. You shouldn’t feel bad when you think about work. It’s okay to be stressed and overwhelmed sometimes, but it’s not going to be easy to love your job when those feelings become the norm.

Pace yourself and take time for yourself outside of work when you can. Otherwise, you could end up feeling more dissatisfied professionally. No matter how attached you feel to your work, your job isn’t your whole life. Putting it in its right place will help you feel more satisfied in the long run.

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