Psychological Stress At Work

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Psychological Stress At Work
Psychological Stress At Work

Video: Psychological Stress At Work

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Video: Managing stress - mental health in the workplace 2023, January
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Mental stress in professional life

Those who feel comfortable in their work environment and see meaning in their work, work more motivated and live more healthily. In the professional environment, however, there are often influences that are psychologically stressful.

These include, for example, a lack of scope for action, constant concentration, multiple workloads, constant availability or fear of job loss - to name just a few work-related factors. The room climate, lighting conditions or noise can also have massive effects on well-being.

External unfavorable conditions increase the sensitivity to stress. Conflicts with colleagues or executives make everyday working life more difficult if they are not resolved constructively. A lack of appreciation, a lack of (further) development opportunities, or being put in a position to lose strength and interest in work.

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There are downsides to both overstrain and underload - but a balanced mediocrity is not always feasible. Thus, an abundance of possible stress factors flows into the human psyche, and depending on the duration and intensity, this results in stress. Personal resources such as health or motivation counteract stress, but cannot always prevent negative consequences.

Stress at work & its consequences

The working world is constantly changing. Increasing pressure in the workplace has become more and more of a stress factor in recent years. Stress at work arises above all when a situation makes high physical and / or psychological demands (e.g. time pressure, contradicting work instructions) and at the same time the opportunities to influence yourself (e.g. to defuse or control the situation) are low. For more information on the effects of stress, see Stress: Effects on the Body & Mind.

People who are exposed to psychological stress at work are more likely to have health problems. Mainly stress-related symptoms, depression or anxiety disorders. However, it also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, dementia or susceptibility to infections.

Work in the service sector is particularly stressful

According to a study by the Economic Research Institute and Danube University Krems (“Psychological stress at work and its consequences”), 32 percent of all new entrants to disability and disability pensions are due to psychological causes. The risk of suffering from mental workload increases with age, the greater the workload, and with night or shift work. These risks are independent of professional qualifications or hierarchical structures.

Workers who work in the personal service sector are affected more than average by work-related psychological complaints - especially in the health, social and teaching sectors. As a result, those affected suffer from sleep disorders, anxiety or depression. Both drug consumption and sick days have been increasing for several years due to mental illness. In addition, there are states of exhaustion, headaches, susceptibility to infection and chronic diseases (e.g. high blood pressure or diseases of the musculoskeletal system).

Stress, back problems and muscle complaints above the EU average

Austria has work-related health problems in the EU-15 average. However, when it comes to back problems, muscle problems and stress, Austrians are always slightly above the EU average. 22.3 percent of employees between the ages of 15 and 64 suffer from stress at work, 24 percent have back pain and 19.8 percent have muscle problems. A third of employed men and a quarter of employed women perceive time pressure and excessive strain as so stressful that their psychological well-being is impaired. A pleasant private environment can only moderately positively influence these workloads.

Unemployed people also have a greatly increased health risk. Anxiety disorders and depression are particularly common.

Evaluation of mental stress in the workplace

The appropriate or faulty work organization in a company plays an essential role. Self-determination (participation in work processes and time management), recognition and social support are particularly important for employees. Poor job security, unsatisfactory wages and poor career prospects increase, among other things, psychological stress in the workplace.

The Employee Protection Act (ASchG) provides for the mandatory evaluation of workplaces. This means the identification and assessment of hazards by the employer and the definition of measures to avoid them. Since 2013, the dangers of psychological stress must also be determined. In addition, with the participation of the employees, appropriate measures should be defined, implemented and checked for their effectiveness. For example, work processes, requirements, organization, environment and social relationships can be improved.

Companies must provide for safety-related and occupational medical care to the extent of specified minimum deployment times. Other specialists, e.g. from the field of work psychology, can also be consulted individually.

Dangers from mental stress

These include, for example:

  • Strong time and deadline pressure
  • Work intensification / multitasking
  • Repetition of the same work processes in a short time
  • Too few opportunities to participate
  • Insufficient support and recognition from superiors or colleagues
  • Lack of information / information overload
  • Pressure to be kind
  • Scarcely calculated staff
  • Confrontation with human suffering / illness
  • Unclear boundaries between leisure and work
  • Fear of losing your job
  • Frequent restructuring measures
  • isolation
  • Noise / heat / cold
  • Narrow space
  • Constrained physical postures

Workplace Health Promotion

Workplace health promotion (BGF) in the psychological area begins, for example, with stress or feelings of overload. Dealing with stress becomes easier through optimizing work organization, conflict management and training relaxation techniques. An appropriate corporate culture, team development measures and self-management methods prevent overload.

A study from 2009 (Gabriel, T. et al.: Risk of burnout in large companies & the role of management and shift work. Guide to burnout prevention in the workplace) showed that the risk of stress-related and burnout-associated symptoms is all the greater, the fewer companies provide prevention and support measures.

For more information, see Workplace Health Promotion.

Work-life balance

The workplace can have a very positive effect on our general well-being and our ability to work. A pleasant working atmosphere and an exciting, appropriate task motivate and bring about success. Not to forget: work and relaxation should be balanced - in the sense of the modern expression work-life balance. A full day at work should always be accompanied by a balanced recovery. Recovery is not only important for personal wellbeing and maintaining or improving health, but also a prerequisite for good performance.

Further information is available from:

  • Stress and relaxation
  • How to avoid "burnout"

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