Work-stress: The good, the bad and the ugly

8th Oct, 2019 Categories: Blog

Brand View: Clinicians at Camali Clinic, a multi-disciplinary child and adult mental health service in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, discuss the causes, symptoms and ways to manage work stress

Despite stress being an unavoidable part of life, it has no universal definition.  Some define it in terms of increased pressure imposed from the environment and others focus on the emotional response of distress and anxiety. The most acceptable definition of stress is the individual’s response to perceived challenge, threat or even excitement and it has both psychological and physical components.

The causes of stress at work can result form external or internal factors. External factors could include organisational causes of stress varying from strict rules, regulations, deadlines, difficult personalities of colleagues and managers as well as working in isolation, poor resources, lack of support, major organisational change and threat of redundancy.

Internal factors causing stress entail negative lifestyle choices such as excessive use of caffeine, lack of sleep, exercise and poor time management which all play a big role on the way stress affect us. Certain types of personalities such as perfectionists and workaholics are at more risk of being overwhelmed with stress.

Work stress can also have significant economic consequences.  Some US studies estimated an annual loss of over USD 300 billion due to reduction in productivity, low morale and absenteeism.  This may also result in increased frequency or work-related accidents, increase use of medical services due to overall worsening of staff health and increase in staff turnover.

In today’s world of economic uncertainty, occupational stress is at an all-time high. Fear of unemployment and its consequences that affects all aspects of personal and professional lives means that many people have to stay at jobs that they either don’t like or are not good at.

What causes work stress?

Dr Rasha Abbas, consultant psychiatrist at Camali Clinic at Healthplus in Abu Dhabi, explained that work-related stress usually results from the sense of lack of control and increased demands, adding that “chronic work-stress is the main cause of burnout resulting in the employee feeling disengaged, not motivated potentially leading to feelings of blunted emotions and depression.”

How to recognise symptoms of stress?

Stress has many symptoms and can itself present differently in people. Physical symptoms of stress include fatigue, sleep and appetite disturbance, frequent headaches, aches and pain, dizziness, palpitations, tingling hand or feat, and indigestion. Many illnesses such as heart diseases, migraines, stomach ulcers have been linked to chronic stress.

Carolyn Yaffe, Counselor at Camali Clinic Child and Adult Mental Health in Dubai, added “stress can cause psychological symptoms such as anxiety, tearfulness, loss of confidence, impulsive behaviours, inability to relax, anger outbursts and irritability, depression and even suicide. Stress has many cognitive manifestations such as forgetfulness, poor focus and concentration, difficulty making decisions, confusion and apathy.”

How to manage stress at work?

The responsibility of managing work-related stress lies on both individuals and organisations.

Organisations have their share of responsibility in helping to manage work-related stress by ensuring employees have adequate skills as well as improving communications, providing a degree of individual autonomy and control, maintaining job requirements at healthy levels and providing opportunities for training and career development.

Leaders within organisations should lead by example, having an open and understanding attitude establishing a culture of accountability and providing regular feedback.

Clinical staff at Camali Clinic in Dubai and Abu Dhabi help individuals achieve a personalised stress management plan. This includes identifying the main sources of stress, both internal and external, looking at the current ways of coping and reasons why they are not working.


It is important to learn how to be self-aware, recognise your early stress signs and listen to your body when it is trying to tell you something. An essential part of stress management is developing new strategies and learning important life skills such as assertiveness, time management and communication.”

It is also imperative to improve your life style incorporating heathy eating habits, getting enough sleep, regular exercise and relaxation.

If nothing works, seeking professional advice and support is important. Individual and group therapy are proven to help reduce stress and improve coping skills, saving not only your career but also your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Camali Clinic is an internationally recognised multidisciplinary child and adult mental health service in Dubai (DHCC and JLT) and Abu Dhabi, UAE. The clinic works within a multidisciplinary framework to ensure a holistic approach and is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK.