In the contemporary world, stress is characterized as an important factor that has an extraordinary impact on individual health and can be defined from three points of view. As the stimulating approach that determines stress as a characteristic of stimulation in the human environment; as the medical physiological approach that defines stress as a reaction of the organism to stimuli from the environment; and as the psychological approach that defines stress as an interaction between an individual and the environment.
Workplace stress or professional stress is a special kind of stress that has been in the middle of the debate for decades as a leading health problem. The condition of professional stress is defined as the totality of harmful physiological, psychological and behavioral responses that affect the individual in situations where the job demands are inconsistent with their abilities, capabilities and needs.
Long-term exposure to stress combined with a lack of mental strength results in burnout syndrome. The symptoms of professional burnout are most often investigated in occupations whose domains are mental and physical health (nurses, doctors), education (teachers, educators, defectologists), human resources management (management), computer technology and the military and police, and the consequences of professional stress has often been investigated by healthcare staff due to the characteristics of their work.
Apart from healthcare, stress is also present in many other activities, so it is not surprising that the research of this plague is a subject of interest to many experts. The aim of such research is to spread awareness of the way human functioning works in both personal and professional roles, as well as changes in individuals related to activation, excitement, tension, anxiety, conflict, emotional change, frustration and others, all under the influence of stress.
Stress is determined by the totality of emotional, thought, physical, and behavioral reactions caused by the assessment of an event that is dangerous or disturbing, or because of the unsatisfactory requirements. Stress is a state of affairs that occurs when an individual experiences a failure in balancing demands and desires on the one hand and knowledge of the possibilities of acting on the other side, and at the same time experiencing the sequence of this disbalance as a threatening one.
Professional stress can be defined as the totality of harmful physiological, psychological and behavioral responses to situations where job requirements are not in accordance with the capabilities, and needs of the afflicted person.
Professional stress poses a disparity between workplace and environment requirements against the individual’s ability, their wishes and expectations to meet the requirements set. The seriousness of professional stress and the adverse consequences of strss is also indicated by the alarming fact that in developed countries this type of stress, immediately after the pain in the spine, is the second most common problem associated with a job affecting a lot of workers.
Internal and External Stressors
Stress sources can be differentiated both as external and internal. Outside stressors are those that derive from the characteristics of the work environment, organization of work, the role and the means of communication in the organization, such as timing of deadlines, lack of influence and power, unclear specific investments, insufficient number of collaborators in relation to tasks expectations, unclear sharing of responsibilities, overlapping of responsibilities, unclear conditions of promotion, rewarding and using annual vacations, lack of privileges, lack of a vocational training system in accordance with the changing organization’s needs, lack of feedback, emotional exhaustion, physical assault threats and others aggression, poor psychosocial climate and many other unfavorable circumstances.
Stressors that depend on an individual, or internal stressors, are characteristics of an individual. In this sense, individuals who often have unrealistic job expectations and fail to adapt to the real situation, have a need for oversight of the situation and perfectionism, identify with the job so that it becomes the only area of affirmation, ineffective working hours, do not have a list of working priorities so important to them, they feel professional incompetence, and so on.
Stressors can arise from the characteristics of the work environment, work organization and way of communicating in the organization, the characteristics of individuals, as well as numerous other everyday factors that are difficult to qualify in certain categories because they are too dependent on the whole set of relationships in the overall social situation in which they occur.
The Stages of Burnout
The process of burnout at work is characterized by great beginner enthusiasm, in which the person does not use any “emotional protection”, after which they becomes vulnerable, emotionally withdraws, lose interest, start blaming others, becomes cynical and ultimately “burnouts”.
The first phase is a phase of work enthusiasm characterized by unrealistic expectations of rapid achievement, over-investment in business, and uncritical dedication to work. At that stage, the workers works much longer than normal working hours. The gap between invested professional effort and its effects often leads to personal disappointment and is the first sign of helplessness.
The second stage is the phase of stagnation in which the worker feels that the achievement in the job is not what they imagined. New consciousness leads to a state of frustration, feelings of disappointment, suspicion of their own competence, the appearance of negativism and the difficulty of communicating with both colleagues and the clients. Emotional vulnerability of the worker is a characteristic of this phase.
The third phase is the phase of emotional withdrawal and isolation. The burnout process also accelerates the physical discomfort that occurs at this stage (headaches, chronic fatigue, insomnia, allergies, and the like). Burnout itself is beginning to help the worker create additional stressors and lead to the last stage of burnout at work.
The last phase is the phase of apathy and loss of life interests. This phase appears as a kind of defense against chronic frustration at work. Initial compassion and enthusiasm at this stage have been replaced by cynicism or indifference to problems. Depression indicators in people are clearly visible, and job motivation and personal resources are exhausted.
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