Stress is your body’s response to increased tension. Stress is normal: you need stress to accept challenges, to concentrate on doing a difficult task, and to make important decisions. Hence, stress is necessary at work.

But too much stress at work can be harmful to your health, because it unduly increases your production of hormone epinephrine, and thus wearing out your hormonal glands. Chronic stress can cause your body to undergo long-term physiological reactions, resulting in depletion of vital nutrients, including DHEA (a hormone critical to anti-aging and longevity).

Stress at work is one of the main reasons for taking sick leave.

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One of the causes of stress at work is a demanding workload with unrealistic deadlines to meet. Time stress is a critical factor in creating stress at work.

In contrast, not having enough work may also be stressful. If an employee works in an unstimulating work environment, he or she may have concern of redundancy or the possibility of loss of employment. This concern is real enough to be stressful.

Frustration at work is another cause of stress. Frustration can result from being passed off in promotion, or unsatisfactory work environment, such as crowded working conditions or a dangerous work place. In addition, interpersonal problems, such as competitiveness at work, frequent confrontation with the public, or resentment from co-workers can contribute to work stress.

Relocation can be work stress in that it involves selling the house, changing schools for children, and the hassles of moving.

Sexual harassment may be a stressful situation for women at work. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in employment.

A passive solution to deal with work stress is to find a new job. Unfortunately, this may not be a long-term solution. As a matter of fact, you might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The long-term solution is learning to cope with work stress.

If there is too much workload, it is important to delegate your work to others, especially your subordinates — even if you are a workaholic. Learn to prioritize your work and set realistic goals for yourself as well as for your subordinates.

If your supervisor is always dumping too much work on you, keep a diary or daily journal to document your workload, and make a formal complaint to the higher authority, especially if the extra workload is not within your job description. Remember, you have the right to decline any unrealistic demands on you.

In any work environment, it is important to take breaks every now and then, and learn to relax, such as stretching your body, or taking some deep breaths.

No matter what the workload is, good time management is an effective way to deal with time stress. A daily planner helps you see your work in perspective and transfer uncompleted tasks to the next day or the following week. Learn to divide large projects into smaller ones, and reward yourself when you have completed one.

Regarding sexual harassment, remember you are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you deem you have been sexually harassed, do not engage in any sexual harassment, so as not to be held legally responsible for the act or behavior of your co-worker. You may want to confront the harasser in order to stop the stress-inducing behavior. Record the unwelcome behavior in detail with dates, as well as the names of witnesses to the harassment. If the harassment persists, submit a written complaint to the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Compliance.

Work stress is detrimental to your health. Many individuals bring home their work stress, and thus creating a stressful home environment. Stress can be a vicious cycle, unless something is done to stop the stress. Do not let work stress become your distress in life.

About Author: For more information on the wisdom of healthy living, go to Stephen Lau’s website: The Art of Living Well. Stephen Lau is a writer and researcher with books and websites on health, Chinese healing, mental depression, eating disorders, golf, and money matters. For more information on dealing with anger and stress, visit his web page: Anger and Stress Management []. Copyright (c) 2010 Stephen Lau

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