Stress Reduction: How Ergonomics Can Help

Stress in the workplace is one of the issues that affect one's performance and overall work results. This can be physical, mental, and emotional triggers that can lead to fatigue, loss of interest at work, absenteeism, and other health issues. Stress can affect anyone in the workplace, from employees to their superiors. That is why it is imperative to learn stress reduction and turn negative thoughts into something positive.

Stress reduction requires efforts and knowledge on how to prevent, manage, and reduce the effects of stress in the work environment. Remember that a healthy work environment will create a more productive, efficient, and happy space to create the success of the company. Applying proper ergonomics in the workplace will also help in stress reduction. We must be knowledgeable on how to properly set up equipment, tools, furniture, and accessories in the workplace.


What is Workplace Stress?

Let's admit the fact that stress in the workplace is sometimes unavoidable. Various factors contribute to acquiring stress. It can be due to overwhelming deadlines, too many tasks, or poor set up of the working environment. It is crucial for us to understand first what is stress, its causes, and the effects it can bring.

As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association:

"Stress is a reaction to a situation – it isn't about the actual situation. We usually feel stressed when we think that the demands of the situation are greater than our resources to deal with that situation. For example, someone who feels comfortable speaking in public may not worry about giving a presentation, while someone who isn't confident in their skills may feel a lot of stress about an upcoming presentation. Common sources of stress may include major life events, like moving or changing jobs. Long-term worries, like a long-term illness or parenting, can also feel stressful. Even daily hassles like dealing with traffic can be a source of stress."


Stress affects people in the workforce, as well as the quality of work they can provide. Having the right knowledge about stress and stress reduction will help unleash the best among employees. They will work comfortably and more efficiently.


Causes of Workplace Stress

For anything that may affect the performance of our job, we should be aware of what causes them. Several things may cause workplace stress:

- Poor working relationships

- Lack of experience, training, and skills to do the job

- Overwhelming workloads

- Lack of job security

- Lack of control over work tasks and activities

- Small chance of career opportunities

- Salary and compensation issues

- Workplace bullying

- Unclear management chains of command

- Ineffective management

- Inability to cope with the workplace's changes and adjustments

- Blaming after mistakes

- Poorly set up working environment

- Lowered self-esteem

- Poor communication in the workplace


Both employees and employers must be aware of the symptoms mentioned above, so they can formulate preventive measures before stress brings more damage to the company.


Effects of Stress in the Workplace

Recognizing the symptoms of stress is very important so that proper solutions will be given. In an article published by WebMD, it was stated that all aspects of life could be affected by stress. A part of the report included,

"Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviours, thinking ability, and physical health. No part of the body is immune. But, because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and maybe the same as those caused by medical conditions. So it is important to discuss them with your doctor."


The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) stated how stress could affect the workplace. In one of its published articles, it mentioned:

"Workplace stress then is the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. In general, the combination of high demands in a job and a low amount of control over the situation can lead to stress."


Effects of Stress in the Workplace

Stress in the workplace can lead to the following:

- Poor time management

Stress can cause distractions to how plans and programs will be implemented. This can also hamper great ideas from other members of the organization. When people are affected by things that make them uneasy, their time is spent on less important matters. The sad part is when they neglect the things that should be in priority.

- Issues on interactions and relationships

Individuals who are experiencing stress become more sensitive to feedback and criticisms. They become afraid of challenges, and the workplace becomes unhealthy because of them.

- Lack of focus

Stress can also affect your ability to concentrate on things and generate new insights. Instead of learning, worrying becomes more dominating in mind. People under stress are often mentally exhausted due to worries, tensions, and anxieties. When these factors are not abolished in the workplace, more mistakes can happen.

Stress also brings effects on physical and mental health. Because of stress, people can experience difficulty in sleeping, headaches, eyesight problems, weight problems, cardiovascular side effects, musculoskeletal system issues, and gastrointestinal disorders.


Applying Ergonomics to Manage Stress

Ergonomic experts have revealed that not using ergonomics can cause drastic effects at work because they add to the overall level of stress in the workplace. You can reduce workplace stress by boosting productivity and creativity in applying ergonomics. Invest in evaluating your workstation to find out what else needs to be added or if there are items that will be eliminated.

The following are simple yet effective ergonomic tips in implementing effective stress reduction in the workplace:


#1 Always watch your posture. Whether you're sitting or standing, make sure to promote proper posture. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Your lower and upper legs must be bent at the knee at a right angle. Keep your neck straight while your back slightly arched. Also, your arms should be kept at right angles. Your wrists should be kept straight and your fingers positioned downwards comfortably.

#2 Place your monitor at about 18" to 24" from you.

#3 Do not bend your shoulders and head forward too much when you're working on your computer.

#4 Do not bend your wrists while typing.

#5 Avoid your lighting to glare on your screen or shine in your eyes.

#6 Take a break regularly.

#7 Perform some stretching or exercises during break time.

#8 Give your mind and body the rest that it needs.

#9 Use quality ergonomic office chair.

#10 Keep your desk free from clutter to reduce stress. You can also keep your computer files in an organized manner.

#11 Use standing chairs, converters, and ergonomic accessories to help you work comfortably and efficiently.

#12 Keep your body healthy by drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious foods.


Besides, some exercises can also help with stress reduction. You can try the following.


- Squeeze a soft ball if you're feeling stressed.

- Stretch and curl your fingers.- Practice proper breathing. This can help you relax.

- Rest your eyes after hours of working.


Final Thoughts

Stress can significantly affect work performance, if not given prompt and proper attention. It is important to follow the tips mentioned above to make sure that stress reduction will be effective. Ergonomics can play a significant role in stress reduction in the workplace. Using standing desks, ergonomic chairs, and keeping your workstation organized and set up properly are all helpful tips to consider.