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Hello Idaho: How to identify, cope with work-related stress

"When you are chronically dealing with stress day in and day out, and there is no reprieve it can begin to take its toll."

BOISE, Idaho — The World Health Organization says work-related stress is the number one health epidemic of the 21st century, and now in the time of the coronavirus, stress levels are even higher.

“Stress is a healthy protective factor for us – it’s natural, but when you are chronically dealing with stress day in and day out, and there is no reprieve it can begin to take its toll,” said Dr. Julie Wood, medical director at Optum Idaho “There are a number of physical problems related to stress that may appear as stomach aches, headaches, severe gastrointestinal issues, loss of appetite, change in mood, anxiety, tension, irritability, even anger.

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Some unhealthy ways people deal with their stress include over-eating, alcohol consumption, smoking, and domestic violence.

Dr. Wood said the first step to properly managing work-related stress is to identify your stressors.

“Maybe start there with identifying those triggers through journaling, and talking with people,” she said.

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Other ways to help manage work-related stress include getting organized, utilizing time management devices, taking breaks, or participating in relaxing activities.

Wood said if these tips do not help, seeking more help is an option.

“Individuals have sick days and if they feel like they aren’t getting the results they need from their supervisor they can go to the HR department and talk with them,” she said. “They can go to their professional counselor or psychiatrist and potentially seek a letter of support or medical necessity to take some time off or to reduce their hours which may also help the support the company in making this decision.”

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