Stress is becoming an increasing problem around the workplace, and so manpower is being invested to manage it. "In recent decades, work stress has increased enormously," says Dr. Paul Koeck, founder of the stress counseling project and The figures say as much: about 29.3% of Flemish employees say they are problematically psychologically tired and 55% of the total number of sick leave days are due to work stress.

The causes

Dr. Paul Koeck is a physician and specialized in stress reduction in employees and managers of international companies. He developed the therapy 'Solution Focused Management' (SFM) and his company guides about 4,500 people daily to reduce their stress levels. He sees a number of causes for increased work stress.

1. Evolution of the work

"In the 19th century, people mainly performed muscle work. Since the 21st century, we work mainly with our brains. Muscles have pain receptors: if you overuse your muscles, pain occurs. A clear signal from your body that you should stop. If you overload your brain, nothing happens at first. But in the long run, something biological changes in your brain tissue that reduces your memory and concentration, you can't focus as well, and your planning skills are diminished. Someone with chronic stress becomes psychologically tired, anxious, depressed, ..."

2. Economic crises and the rise of the internet and the smartphone

"The world has become one big village. This leads to uncertainty and anxiety, both among employees and among business leaders themselves. Our companies have to compete with companies from other continents. The old way of working or doing business no longer suffices. Everyone - employer and employee alike - must learn to prioritize."

3. Unclear assignments

"Business leaders can also feel insecure: what do we need to do to be successful? As a result, they give unclear assignments. Mismanagement, in turn, leads to employee stress."

4. The content of work.

"If you feel like you're not doing meaningful work (anymore), if you're not seeing results from your efforts, discouragement and frustration ensue. That's often a very subjective feeling that causes negative stress."

5. The workplace

"Too much or too little light, too much noise, being too close together or having to work in isolation, ... are all factors that undermine the feeling of well-being in the workplace. If there is open communication in a company, you can usually solve this easily. But if you can't talk about it with your boss, there's a problem."

6. Feeling misunderstood

"Feeling supported by your boss and colleagues is another important factor. People want to feel that they are understood and have control over the end result of their work. If that's gone, they become demotivated."

Tackling stress yourself

"Many people think they can't do anything about stress because decisions are made over their heads. That's false. You decide how you deal with stress. When I coach people, I mainly teach them to take action themselves. Maybe you should read a book on stress reduction, talk to a friend, or take a test on the Internet to measure your stress level. If you are really deep, you can decide to seek (professional) help from a doctor or psychologist, a personal coach, a self-help group, in meditation, ... There are many ways to learn to turn the switch. But just as important is that you practice daily until it becomes a habit to think or act in a different way. Everyone - regardless of his level in society - who one day actually decides to do something about the stress, can reduce his stress level. By spending 15 minutes daily doing self-reflection and changing small things, you can already reduce negative stress."

Some more anti-stress tips

Turn off your work smartphone after your work hours. No one can demand you to be available 24/7. Reorganize your internet usage. Check your emails at set times and not with every message that walks in. Review your mobility. If daily traffic jams stress you out, find a job closer to home or ask your employer if you can't do more work from home. Make 15 minutes daily to reflect on yourself. Take a walk outdoors, listen to quiet music, meditate. Focus on the positive. Take a moment daily to think about the things you experienced as positive that day. This is how you break through the subjective feeling of negative stress. Pick one priority per day and try to do that project as best you can. Take your free stress test at Written by C. Stevens on 22-3-2016