Mindfulness therapies can reduce workplace stress

| April 7, 2018

Work-related stress is an increasingly common problem in Australia. Research has shown that one in four Australians reported moderate to severe levels of workplace stress in 2014.

Approximately one in five Australians (21%) have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious or mentally unwell – making workplace stress one of the leading causes of absenteeism in Australia.

Work-related stress arises when work demands challenge the person’s ability and capacity to cope. Paul Jozsef, a Sydney-based psychotherapist, says “stress is often caused by a number of interrelated factors. For example, a person might feel stressed if the demands of their job are greater than they can comfortably manage.”

Other sources of work-related stress include conflict with management or co-workers, insufficient time to complete allocated tasks, or threats to job security, such as potential redundancy.

The signs and symptoms of workplace stress can manifest in a number of behavioural, psychological and physical ways. Some common signs of work-related stress include: persistent work-related anxiety, physical tension while at work, being late on a regular basis, not wanting to participate in meetings or staff events, and getting irrationally angry with co-workers.

Workplace stress not only affects the health and well-being of employees, but also the productivity and profitability of organisations. It is estimated to cost Australian businesses $10 billion a year in lost productivity and absenteeism.

“Employers must start taking mental health more seriously by implementing measures such as workplace mindfulness training to prevent work-related stress,” says Jozsef.

Mindfulness training can benefit employees and the workplace by creating a safe, healthy and enjoyable work environment. “A growing body of research has found that workplace mindfulness training leads to a reduction in stress, and improvements in mood, health, self-efficacy, and self-compassion amongst employees and management”.

If an employee is already affected by workplace stress, employers can assist by offering counselling, or psychotherapy for more serious cases of work-related stress.

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