When Work Becomes a Nightmare

Work often involves extremely long hours, difficult shifts, and the impossibility of reconciling work life with social or family life. The best intervention is to remove the source of stress. However, if this is impossible, what can you do?
When Work Becomes a Nightmare

Last update: 03 December, 2022

We’re all subject to different sources of pressure in our daily lives. As a rule, we dedicate eight hours of each day to work, which makes it one of the most significant sources of stress. When work turns into a nightmare, you might feel underappreciated, burned out, and helpless.

Fortunately, as a human being, you have a great capacity for adaptation. However, sometimes the requirements of your job might overexert you, producing certain adaptation or adjustment problems. This affects us all in different ways.

Stressed woman at work
Job stress can have serious consequences for the physical and emotional health of workers.

Work stress management

The most effective strategy is to eliminate the source of your stress. Perhaps you could modify some of the ways in which your work is organized to increase your adaptability.

For example, you could change your schedule and move to a continuous shift. One of the benefits of this (for instance, working from seven a.m. to three p.m.) is that it allows you to reconcile with your social and family life. You can’t do this if you’re working split shifts.

Strategies for intervening on work stress

Sometimes, it’s really difficult or almost impossible to eliminate the source of stress. If this is the case, you need certain strategies that allow you to face the situations that are making you uncomfortable.

Occupational stress prevention programs teach you personal skills that help when work becomes a nightmare. They focus on various objectives. For instance, the way you perceive work-related situations, the way you deal with them, or the different emotional responses you experience.

1. General techniques

The objective of these techniques is to increase or strengthen your personal resources so you can deal with stress. Some general strategies are:

  • Developing good physical condition through regular exercise. Exercising increases your body’s physical resistance to the effects of stress. It also increases your psychological resistance. That’s because exercising forces you to shift the focus of your attention. This facilitates rest and the recovery of your mental activity.
  • Eating well. A good diet will give you the energy to respond to the demands of life in general, and work in particular.
  • Social support. Social relationships with your reference group help you adapt and promote integration. In fact, your social groups can be a real source of psychological help for you.

2. Cognitive techniques

The purpose of cognitive techniques is to promote alternative ways of perceiving, interpreting, and evaluating situations. There are many techniques of this type. Here are some:

  • Cognitive restructuring. It seeks to provide ways and procedures to reorganize the way in which you perceive and interpret a situation. The objective is to promote more adaptive thoughts and interpretations of work situations.
  • Systematic desensitization. This technique aims to reduce anxiety and fear reactions to situations that are threatening. When exposed to your fears, you put into practice responses that are incompatible with anxiety.
  • Stress inoculation. You learn and develop coping skills, which act as ‘psychological antibodies’. It’s like being given a vaccine when your body responds and fights the invader. With regard to stress, it’s achieved via training in breathing techniques, relaxation, or problem-solving.

3. Physiological techniques

These techniques aim to reduce excess physiological arousal while. At the same time, they reduce the accompanying emotional and physical discomfort. Fundamentally, they seek to teach you to relax and breathe. Here are two examples:

  • Breathing control techniques. There are multiple examples of these. Their objective is to achieve better oxygenation in the body, thus allowing you to obtain beneficial effects immediately.
  • Mind relaxation techniques. Meditation is worth a mention here. It helps you obtain physiological changes. That’s because you focus your attention on other activities and disconnect from the sources of your stress.
Woman meditating at work
Relaxing the muscles that have accumulated emotional tension helps your mind to relax.

4. Behavioral techniques

These techniques promote alternative, more adaptive behaviors. They include:

  • Assertiveness training. This quality enhances your self-esteem and thereby reduces the impact of stress. It consists of developing the capacity that allows you to express your feelings, desires, and needs freely, clearly, and unequivocally to those around you.
  • Training in social skills. It seeks to establish skills that make you successful when it comes to achieving personal goals with other people. At the same time, it enhances your perception of efficacy and security in relationships with your colleagues.

Finally, it’s important that you have strategies in place in the workplace to organize your time, especially when you’re overworked. To this end, we’ve given you some really useful strategies above. You might also consider delegation or distribution of responsibilities among your colleagues. In addition, negotiation favors flexibility and the understanding of other people’s points of view.

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Work stress is the pressure that an individual suffers at a physiological and emotional level, due to psychosocial risk factors.



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The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.