Date: 3 July 2006

Work Stress

A mentally healthy adult has a need to work. This is part of human development. Everybody works, whether you are a housewife, self-employed or an employee.

Working adults spend an average of 10 hours at the workplace. Thus, the workplace has a significant impact on an individual’s mental health and well being. A safe and healthy workplace ensures work efficiency and makes working pleasurable and satisfying. Poor working conditions on the other hand, will create a stressful work atmosphere.

A little stress at work is good as it enhances productive performance. However, when the stress becomes excessive and unmanageable it can seriously affect one’s health. Personal difficulties, family problems and stressful life events can make it worse.

What causes stress in the work place?

Job related

Work conditions, use of new equipments, prolonged work pressure, new ways of doing things

Career development

Frustrations, lack of incentives, lack of appreciation, retrenchment

Role related

Frequent changes in role, dangerous or unsafe work


Conflict with colleagues, superiors, subordinates or people encountered at work

Organisational change

Change in organisational structure, new management, frequent take-overs, uncertainties
Symptoms that indicate you are under stress
Loss of appetite
Alcohol abuse
Excessive worries
Easily irritated
Lack of concentration and motivation
Sleep disturbances
7 Steps on how to manage stress

1. Be realistic about your work
Accept your strengths and limitations
Develop a positive attitude towards your work
Enjoy what you do and do it as best as you can

2. Organise your work
Mange your time well
Prioritise your work and avoid a last minute rush
If possible avoid bringing unfinished work home
Know how to delegate your work

3. Sharpen your problem solving skills
Address problems rationally and plan solutions systematically
List down the main problems and possible solutions
Evaluate the feasibility of each solution
Take appropriate action

4. Have a proper attitude towards changes
Some changes are unavoidable. Be open, flexible and realistic about them
Plan your changes well

5. Practice effective communication at the workplace
Be assertive, but not aggressive
Express your ideas in a polite, firm and clear manner
Respect your colleagues’ opinions

6. Foster solcial support within the workplace
Establish friendships with colleagues
List down all the people and organisations that may be able to help you and your colleagues
Share your problems with someone whom you can confide in
Take time to listen
Do not judge your colleagues

7. Practise a healthy lifestyle
Learn to relax
Have enough sleep
Exercise regularly
Have enjoyable activities/hobbies
Refrain from tobacco, alcohol or drugs
Practise good moral and religious values
Source: A Public Health Education Information from the Ministry of Health Malaysia