Too Much Stress at Work? 7 Signs It’s Time to Take a Breather

The results of workplace stress can make workers less productive and less effective in their jobs, and ignoring the warning signs of work stress can lead to bigger problems. Beyond interfering with job performance and satisfaction, chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems.

An American Institute of Stress survey reveals that "80% of workers experience stress at work." Indeed, job stress takes precedence over the economy, family responsibilities, and personal health concerns. Forbes reported that "overall employee stress levels have increased nearly 20% in three decades," and a Stanford University study found that "Excessive workplace stress results in nearly $190 billion in annual health care costs."

It’s important to know how to recognize the telltale signs of workplace stress. Here are 7 ways to tell that you have too much stress at work:

5 minutes

2nd of January, 2023

women in stress

1. You’re Saying "Yes" to Everything

It may be good for your career to be known as your team’s go-to person. Yet, when being a “yes person” results in stress-inducing situations like conflicting projects and day-to-day tasks, it’s time to learn to say "no". Or, you’ll be unlikely to do any of them justice.

2. You’re Overwhelmed, Forgetful, And Get Confused Easily

An uncharacteristic lapse in memory and concentration, increased confusion, and indecisiveness can be indicators of distraction caused by stress. It’s difficult to remain focused when you have a never-ending “to-do” list. Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start are forerunners of burnout.

3. You’re Procrastinating

Believe it or not, procrastination is more often a sign of anxiety than it is of laziness. If you’re spending too much time scrolling through Twitter or Instagram as deadlines get closer, this is a signal that stress is on the horizon. When people are overloaded and can’t decide which of the millions of things to do next, they procrastinate. Likewise, extreme pressure can sometimes cause a ‘freeze response,’ which means you simply don’t know exactly what to do next, so not moving at all seems like a sensible option. If you’re finding that you have lots of tasks at work but can’t seem to start any, you may be ‘freezing’ or ‘procrastinating’ under too much pressure.

4. You Can’t Get to Sleep, and When You do, You Wake up in The Middle of The Night With Work on The Brain

When your mind won’t let go of your workday to the extent that it’s interfering with your nighttime recovery efforts, it means that your stress level is too high. Having a lot on your mind causes your brain to go into overdrive. If you think about how much you have to do tomorrow, your brain won't be able to slip into sleep. Because of this, you will be even more tired and have more difficulties the next day and likely as the days go on.

5. You’re Making Too Many Mistakes

Diminished work quality and making rookie errors are signs that you’re in the grip of stress. And, when one employee is performing inadequately at work, research has found that such reduced work quality can also trigger weak performance of the entire team, or even the entire workplace. This is because individuals suffering from burnout at work are not able to perform well at their tasks and the rest of the healthy employees spend their time picking up the slack for their burned-out coworkers.

6. You’re Working Late Every Night or Working on Weekends

Weekends are supposed to help you refresh before starting another workweek. So if your recovery time on Saturday and Sunday always disappears into work duties, it’s no surprise that you are feeling stressed out. Working late and working on weekends are signs that you’re struggling with your workload. Constant late nights and weekend work, even work done from home, are warning bells that you could be nearing the breaking point.

7. Your Body is Sending You Messages

If you’re constantly “fighting off the flu” or “coming down with a cold,” it’s a clear sign that your body is crying out for help. Stress weakens the immune system, and the body does not have enough energy left to protect itself from illness. Stress is the cause of more physical symptoms than people realize. Untreated stress can result in gastrointestinal distress, high blood pressure, stress-related headaches, and heart disease, not to mention that workers who are stressed at work are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors to cope.

What Can You do About Job Stress?

One of the main problems with work-related stress is that people don’t recognize that it’s happening until it’s too late, making it harder for them to recover. If you’re suffering from symptoms of workplace stress, consider what you need to do to avoid burnout:

  • Make sure you are well organized at work. List and address your tasks in order of priority, scheduling the day’s most difficult tasks for times when you are most productive.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Consider the benefits of regular relaxation, and make sure you have free time to yourself every week.
  • Ask for support and suggestions for dealing with your stress from your family, friends, or colleagues.
  • Think about the changes you need to make at work in order to reduce your stress levels and then take action. Some changes you can manage yourself, while others will need the cooperation of others, such as your boss or team manager.
  • Despite your efforts, if work-related stress continues to be a problem, seek the services of a professional counselor.


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