Stress as a Safety Hazard
Stress is something that a lot of people deal with. Sometimes, it can be positive, like when you use stress to help motivate you to get work done on a project. Other times, though it can be negative. There are many different causes of stress related to work, such as:
- Factors related to your job (i.e. shift work, physical environment),
- Your role in the organization (i.e. level of authority),
- career development (i.e. job satisfaction),
- interpersonal relationships at work (i.e. conflicts, threats of violence),
- Organizational structure (i.e. participation in decision making)[i]
Where stress come into play at Christmas time, besides all the work related stressors above, is money. In a survey listed on Brighter Life.ca, the most common factor causing stress for the individuals surveyed was personal finances at 41%, followed by trying to maintain a budget at 29%.[ii] While credit card bills won’t be in until after the festivities, they might be on your mind now. This will be added to any other stresses, such as those listed above.
Stress affects your health by increasing those hormones in the body that were part of our “fight or flight” response. This will lead to increased heart rate, more blood sugars for more energy, increased stomach acid and other health concerns. These symptoms can be treated by medication, but this will not solve the problem of stress itself, the root cause.
For safety, excessive stress also has negative impacts such as affecting how well you sleep, over medicating yourself, lashing out in anger. These in turn can cause someone to lose concentration with what they are doing (see the Distraction post from last week on Facebook), make errors in judgement, put excessive physical strain on their bodies, or fail in normal cognitive functions that require hand eye coordination. [iii] When you stop thinking reasonably, you put not just you but all your co-workers in danger. Stress then becomes a safety hazard that must be dealt with. If you are suffering from stress you need to get the help you need for the causes of your stress, not just the symptoms.
As I said before stress is normal and sometimes positive, but when it becomes excessive, it causes health problems and possibly safety issues as well. Find positive ways to deal with stress. If your company had an Employee Assistance Program, contact them to see if they can help. Take time off if you can and relax. Good mental health is the best way to deal with psycho-social hazards in the workplace. So during the coming holidays, try to take it easy and relax, because it might save a life.