Many working professionals develop substance addictions due to their inability to cope with work-related stress. The most common work-related stresses include long work hours, heavy workload, job insecurity, toxic relationships at work, and conflicts with co-workers or employers. If you or a loved one is in such a situation, it may be time to work with health professionals who can coach you on how to reduce and manage stress before it develops into a substance abuse issue.
Symptoms of Work-Related Stress
Long-term stress at work can lead to behavioral changes, such as missing work, poor work performance, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. Physical symptoms may also occur, including fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, and heart palpitations. Employees who experience long-term stress can lose motivation and creativity to perform well at work.
When tracing the deeper causes of work-related stress, there are many possible factors, including organizational culture, bad management practices, physical work environment, and relationships at work. Sometimes excessive competition for promotion among co-workers can also create immense stress and even a toxic work culture.
Employers should be educated in recognizing common symptoms of work-related stress among employees to prevent burnout, mental health issues, and addiction. In an ideal world, companies would take the necessary steps to ensure that employees are not subjected to long-term stress. While some workplaces are making moves toward such procedures, more should be done on a large scale to help meet the need for employees’ mental health upkeep.
Workplace Burnout: Hitting Rock Bottom
Working professionals who experience long-term stress may experience burnout. This is a state of physical and mental exhaustion to the point of mental or physical collapse. People who experience burnout may even lose their sense of self-identity. Oftentimes, one’s immune system is weakened and one may feel pessimistic and cynical.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), workplace burnout has three dimensions: energy depletion, mental distancing from the job, and reduced professional efficacy. People who become burnt out are often unable to perform day-to-day job tasks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, burnout and stress are at all-time highs across most professions, especially healthcare workers and frontline essential workers.
Practicing Self-Care in the Workplace
There are many things one can do to promote self-care while facing work-related stress. One should take the initiative of implementing necessary changes to reduce their stress levels. This may involve saying no to extra workloads or asking for support from other colleagues. Employees should also be proactive in talking over their concerns about work-related stress with their employer.
Time management skills can help people prioritize tasks for each day instead of trying to tackle everything at once. Intentionality in training one’s mind to focus on one task at a time and avoid multitasking, which is not conducive to mental health is also important. In work relationships, one should be assertive about their own needs and stay away from toxic personalities and conflicts.
Meanwhile, one can create regular relaxation time slots during the workday. This might be taking a walk after lunch or practicing short mindfulness meditations throughout the day. Avoiding skipping meals or bringing work home can safeguard one’s time and space.
Creating Healthy Boundaries in Life
Work is only part of a working person’s life. When they get a sense that work has taken over their emotions, it might be time to pause and re-evaluate boundaries. People should avoid bringing work-related stress home to their loved ones. Instead, they can learn how to communicate work problems without passing on negative emotions. Working professionals can tell their families they need their understanding and support during a difficult time at work.
Boundaries can also be set by protecting weekends and planning quality personal or family time. Hardworking people can use this break to relax and recharge or explore new hobbies with family and friends. People should remind themselves that work does not define who someone is, and as a result of that awareness, they are free to embrace life outside of work.
Avoid Substance Use to Manage Work-Related Stress
Lack of self-care and healthy boundaries can easily turn people toward using alcohol and drugs for managing stress. However, substances won’t alleviate stress. In fact, substance abuse can cause addiction and mental health problems that lead to more stress and other issues.
If anyone is not sure how to practice sober self-care, it may be time to work with a health professional. Trained interventionists can help working professionals manage stress without resorting to drugs and alcohol. They will show them that when they encounter stress, they must learn adaptive ways of responding to it. These include talking the situation through with a colleague, discussing the best way to approach a task, discussing with a superior what would reduce stress, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Are you experiencing work-related stress? Do you know how to deal with such stress without resorting to substance use? Counseling or therapy may help you identify and develop specific coping strategies to manage stress. For some people, chronic stress can lead to substance use disorder as they seek out drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings and escape from the causes of chronic stress. If you suffer from chronic work-related stress, it’s time to seek support from health professionals who can help you manage it. Therapists can teach relaxation methods such as meditation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness to deal with an unhealthy build-up of stress. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have experienced mental health professionals who can coach you on managing stress as you get sober. Schedule an appointment with us to discover how we can help you. Call us at (866) 229-9923 to learn more.