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The impact of stress on your health.

Posted Mar 31 2010 1:06pm

Stress and Stressors

Stress is endemic in the US – both in one’s personal life and in the workplace.  In a 2001 telephone poll of 751 American workers, when asked “In general, how stressed do you feel at work?,” the participants responded:

  • 6% = “extremely”
  • 12% = “quite a bit”
  • 34% = “somewhat”
  • 30% = “a little”
  • 18% = “not at all”

A follow up question revealed that 28% of respondents reported that “workplace demands” were a major source of stress in their lives.  Understanding the impact of stress on one’s life is important first step in learning to control its negative effects.


People are stressed by a wide variety of things.  What may drive one person to the breaking point might hardly be noticed by another.  Sonnentag and Frese (2003) have identified several categories of stressors with corresponding examples.  They include:

  • Physical (e.g., noise, heat, cold, vibrations, chemical, toxic substances, dirt, etc.)
  • Task-related (e.g., time pressure, work overload, work complexity, monotonous work, disruptions, etc.)
  • Work-schedule (e.g., night work, shift work, long hours, overtime, etc.)
  • Social (e.g., interpersonal conflicts, harassment, bullying, etc.)
  • Role (e.g., ambiguity, conflict, etc.)
  • Career-related (e.g., job insecurity, poor career opportunities, etc.)
  • Organizational (e.g., mergers, downsizing, reorganization, technology implementation, etc.)
  • Traumatic (e.g., disasters, major accidents, dangerous activities, etc.)

Stressors can cause a variety of short- and long-term reactions in individuals at the physiological, emotional, and behavioral levels.  Some reactions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Alcoholism and drug abuse
  • Burnout
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Frustration
  • Hypertension
  • Memory loss
  • Physical illness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleeplessness
  • Tension
  • Trouble concentrating

S work_stress tress reactions can lead to a variety of organizational problems including absenteeism, decreased worker performance, increased turnover rate, increased heath care costs, temporary or permanent disability, and work-place violence – just to name a few.

February 23, 2010 by Eric Shaver


Gallop Poll (2001).  Attitudes in the American Workplace VII. Wallford, CT: The Martin Company.

Sonnentag, S., & Frese, M. (2003).  Stress in organizations.  In W.C. Borman, D.R. Ilgen, & R.J. Klimoski (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Volume 12 – Industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 453-491).  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

An ergonomics program can be a great tool to reduce physical and emotional stress in the workplace. By addressing the environment in which we work can reduce physical strain and allow workers to focus more on the task at hand. Ergonomic Evolution is your source that can improve your workers health while reducing stress thus providing happy and more productive employees. Contact us today to find out how.

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