Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Brandon Yew
Calculate Your Work-Related Stress and Learn Tips to Manage it
Published | 5 min read
Work stress can lead to short and long-term health problems. Proper stress management will keep you fit and focused so you can perform your best at work.
In Malaysia, work stress is a major workforce concern. A recent survey showed that 51% of employees suffered from at least one dimension of work-related stress.
In addition, 53% of employees got less than seven hours of sleep daily. 20% of employees, meanwhile, attributed their stress to continuous bullying at their workplace.
The Detrimental Effects of Work Stress on Your Health
Being overwhelmed by work can hamper your self-confidence and cause you to feel withdrawn, or become angry or irritable. It may also see you experiencing other symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble focusing
- Stress rashes
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Loss of interest in performing your work responsibilities
- Digestive disorders: Gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and weight gain or loss
- Reproductive disorders: Irregular periods, fertility issues in men and women, and low libido
Over time, unmanaged stress increases your risk of:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Workplace injuries
- Musculoskeletal disorders in the upper and lower back
- Psychological disorders, such as anxiety, depression or burnout syndrome
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that stress compromises the immune system and exposes it to external pathogenic factors.
“Cold, Fire, Wind, and Dampness can break through the skin and provoke an onset of rashes. These pathogens are also responsible for internal imbalances in the Heart, Liver, Lungs, and Spleen. As a result, it can lead to phlegm, blood clots, Damp-Heat, and Qi (vital life force) Stagnation.”
Real Health Medical Senior TCM physician Brandon Yew.
Liver Qi Stagnation impairs circulation in the Spleen and stomach. Subsequently, your digestive system will malfunction, resulting in various eating disorders.
How to Cope with Work-Related Stress
A combination of relaxation techniques and alternative remedies can prove useful during stressful situations at work.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Next, tense and relax each muscle group, starting from the legs.
While inhaling, hold the tension for 10 seconds before slowly releasing it within 20 seconds.
Keeping your attention fixed on the present with curiosity, openness, and acceptance helps decrease activity in the amygdala. Associated with emotional processes, the amygdala may shrink with continuous meditation, and become less reactive to stressful stimuli.
The Stress Breath method
First, inhale deeply to allow sound to vibrate at the back of your throat. Hold your breath and lower your chin to your chest.
Count in descending order from five. Exhale loudly through your nose as you slowly lift your head. That’s one cycle. Do 12 consecutive cycles, once in the morning, and again at night.
Generally, a licensed TCM practitioner will prescribe rose flower buds for stress. The flower induces a calming effect and promotes a smooth flow of qi. Steep a handful of buds in a teapot of boiling water for five minutes and drink the tea when it’s warm. Essence of chicken, too, can be used to recharge your mind and body, especially when you feel drained from work.
Several herbal ingredients may also be used to treat a stress rash. These include:
- Burdock (niu bang zi, 牛蒡子)
- Belvedere fruit (di fu zi, 地肤子)
- Chrysanthemum flower (ju hua, 菊花)
- Lithospermum root (zi cao, 紫草)
- Mulberry twig (sang zhi, 桑枝)
- Weeping forsythia (lian qiao, 连翘)
- Dahurian Angelica root (bai zhi, 白芷)
- Densefruit Pittany root-bark (bai xian pi, 白鲜皮)
- Fineleaf Schizonepeta spike (jing jie, 荆芥)
- Tuber Fleeceflower stem (shu wu teng, 首乌藤)
You can also use herbal medicine to address stress-induced pathologies. Cassia seeds (jue ming zi, 决明子) and lotus leaves (he ye, 荷叶) can dispel toxins to relieve abdominal bloating. Radix Bupleuri (chai hu, 柴胡) and Nutgrass Galingale Rhizome (xiang fu, 香附) help relax your mind by soothing Liver qi.
Acupressure point stimulation
Acupressure point stimulation for three to five minutes, two to three times daily, can help eliminate stress. It may also suppress your appetite and ease a stress rash.
The points that can be worked on are:
- Ji’e dian (Hunger Point, 饥饿点)
- Shen men (HT7, 神门)
- Qu chi (LI11, 曲池)
- Tai chong (LR3, 太沖)
- Yu ji (LU10, 鱼际)
- Xue hai (SP10, 血海)
- Zu san li (ST36, 足三里)
Stress and meditation balls
Squeezing a stress ball may help stimulate and contract your muscles and nerves, making them stronger. Apart from building strength, it’ll also enable you to manage stress better by improving the nervous system and regulating different hormones.
Meditation balls (also known as Baoding balls) are believed to alleviate stress and improve brain function while exercising your hands. Hold them in one hand and roll them in your palm. With regular practice, your hands will eventually learn to manipulate their movement without touching each other.
It’s undeniable that work stress can be the silent killer of an employee’s health and productivity. It’s important to assess the root of the problem and take appropriate management steps. Be mindful that traditional remedies should only be considered after speaking with a licensed TCM practitioner. Share this quiz and article to inspire family members and friends to be proactive in managing their stress levels.
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. Workplace Stress – General. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
- New Straits Times. 2019. Survey: Malaysian employees are overworked, sleep deprived, unhealthy. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
- HelpGuide. Stress at Work. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
- Concordia University St. Paul. Work Stress: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
- Harvard Health Publishing. 2019. How to handle stress at work. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
- Mindful. How to Manage Stress with Mindfulness and Meditation. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
- Brownhill Surgery. The Health Benefits of Stress Balls. [online] [Accessed 22 December 2022]
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