reducing work stress

Ways to Reduce Work Stress

Published on April 29, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

Everyone who works deals with some amount of work-related stress, since any type of job will have some stressful elements. Even if you love your job, work stress may occur. Short-term stress related to work may be due to a deadline or a challenging task.

However, chronic and long-term work stress can lead to physical, emotional, and mental health issues — in fact, it is a significant source of these concerns among Americans.

Sources of Work Stress

The most common workplace stressors are:

  • Absence of social support
  • Extreme workloads
  • Low salaries
  • Little or no opportunity for career growth or advancement
  • Work that is not engaging or challenging
  • Little to no control over job-related decisions
  • Conflicting demands
  • Ambiguous expectations of performance

The inability to keep work stress under control leads to many issues that may even affect your home life and relationships. Persistent stress may even take a toll on one’s physical health.

A work environment filled with stress may create physical problems from mild to severe and negative habits, such as:

  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Short temper
  • Sleep issues, even insomnia
  • Concentration difficulties
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obesity, due to overeating
  • Cigarette smoking 
  • Heart disease
  • Drug or alcohol misuse

The issues that arise from stress are plentiful, and it has the ability to drastically affect the way life is lived. For first responders especially, the high-stress and high-risk nature of the job can lead to further issues with many types of problems, such as other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use disorder (SUD).

Stress may lead to feelings of:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes that not all stress is bad and stress may also be due to positive changes, such as getting a job promotion. However, long-term stress is detrimental to one’s health and can lead to more severe forms of mental illness.

Prevention and management of these symptoms are of crucial importance.

How to Prevent and Manage Long-Term Work Stress

Recognizing the symptoms of stress as they arise is crucial in ensuring they do not become debilitating and more severe. Stress can be the nexus of great change if it is recognized early, but it can and will lead to a less than optimal headspace as it manifests more firmly in our lives.

Managing this stress can allow for immense gains in the personal lives of those who are learning to deal with it. Some of the ways to prevent and manage stress are listed below.

Ways to prevent or manage work-related stress include:

  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Preparing for stressful events
  • Planning ahead
  • Noticing stressful feelings
  • Taking the time to relax and unwind
  • Exercising and eating healthy
  • Nurturing social relationships with friends and family
  • Seeking help when stress is leading to unmanageability in life

In preventing and managing stress, many things that previously were a detriment to the lives of those suffering have turned into great assets. Some of these benefits are listed below.

The ability to manage stress may help you:

  • Control and maintain weight
  • Sleep better
  • Get sick less often
  • Get better faster if you do become ill
  • Lessen muscle tension
  • Increase positive mood
  • Maintain positive relationships with friends and family

Specifically, it is immensely important to be aware of the ways stress can impact the way we view the world. The effects of stress are further reaching than simply having a poor outlook on work life.

There are many things beyond that of the workplace that are negatively affected by high levels of stress in an individual. On one side of the stress coin, increased risk for anxiety, substance use, and depressive disorders, unresolved and unmanaged stress are a recipe for further issues down the road.

On the other side of the same coin is the beneficial aspects of developing healthy coping mechanisms that can help to lead better lives. As one learns to handle something as common as stress, there is a marked increase in quality of life.

Better mood and health, less chance of developing a disorder, and a great sense of calm are all some of the benefits that can come from this struggle. If you feel as if stress is causing an issue that is too great to overcome, please seek guidance from a therapist or the human resources representative (or equivalent) at your workplace.

The tools are out there to help manage this common struggle; peace of mind is just around the corner.


Do You Need Help With Stress? The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses.  We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers, and that existing stigma may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially difficult. Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career or a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships. 

By taking a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, Simple Recovery makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community, and at Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we believe in dedicating our time and expertise to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness.  If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490.