cartoon of woman stressed at work
Adults, Covid-19

Changes in The Workplace: Work Stress and Ongoing Uncertainty

Work stress has always been a hot topic in therapy. To think that the place where we spend most of our waking hours doesn’t impact our mental and emotional health would be silly! And with covid shining a magnifying glass on any preexisting stressors, it’s no wonder that workplace changes and work stress is on the top of the list of common concerns for most people these days.

With so many changes taking place in the workplace, many people are starting to reach their maximum capacity of emotional burnout at work.

Now that we are six months into Covid-19 — or is it 7 now? ::shrug:: time is an enigma — one would think we’ve gotten used to change and uncertainty. But no! That just isn’t the way it works! No matter how much uncertainty we are faced with, each and every new situation causes the same amount of emotional turmoil. And when you consider the cumulative effects of stress, whether or not they are pandemic related, it’s no wonder that struggles at work are taking a toll on mental health.

Here’s a list of some common experiences of changes in workplace experience that would stress anyone out!

man with hand on his head sitting at his computer, stressed at work

Shifting job responsibilities

Depending on your role and what’t happening in your agency, you may have drastically more OR drastically less to do. Obviously have too much on your plate can lead to burnout! But did you know boredom causes burnout too!? Especially when you feel like you aren’t contributing anything of value. Showing up just for the sake of showing is draining.

Reorganization of leadership

Getting used to a new boss or supervisor is always tough. You have to get used to their communication style, leadership style, and general personality. As they say… “sometimes better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’.

Worries about job security

Depending on your workplace and industry, funding maybe be shifting and your position may be at greater risk. This increases the pressure on you to maintain consistent and satisfactory performance. This is can be tough given all these challenges we’re talking about.

New problems and fewer resources to solve them

Chances are, you are now having to solve problems you couldn’t have even imagined existing. You have more unexpected and unpredictable curveballs and often limited time to address them. Plus your resources- financial, tangible, emotional or otherwise- are likely more limited .

Lack of personal contact in the workplace-from-home

Obviously less social contact decreases your sense of connection and over satisfaction at work. But did you consider that it also increases worry about one’s social standing on the team. Having constant contact is often reassuring to know that everything “feels right” and without that reassurance, worry is probably higher.

Performance anxiety and self-consciousness in work meetings

It’s now much harder speaking to a room that not actually a room. There are fewer facial responses, less laughter to soften the nerves, and overall less interaction with the crowd which would usually help calm the nerves. Plus, seeing your face and every move you make on video conferencing is one more think to worry about beyond just what you say!

And all of these things only some of the immediate workplace stressors. This list doesn’t even begin to cover the stress of balancing work life with new family responsibilities and the stress of keeping yourself safe and healthy!

So how do you maintain some sanity with all the workplace changes and work stress?!


If you are having a hard time with all of this, chances are so are you coworkers. And chances are so is your boss. Talking with them openly about your work stress is a vulnerable but important opportunity. It will increase your sense of connection which in and of itself is part of the solution.

Feeling validation and commonality with peers will help you feel less alone or abnormal. It will also lead to some creative solutions you may not have thought of. Maybe your team can divide and conquer differently. Or expectations can be shifted. Others can’t help if they don’t know there’s a concern.

Also, it opens the door for them to share too. Maybe you all are facing the same problem and you didn’t even realize it. Strength in numbers will absolutely help address the concerns. When something affects the whole team and not just one individual, management is much more likely to take it seriously. Keeping these concerns to yourself actually does the overall organization harm.

But what if it feels unsafe to talk about work stress with coworkers?

Try talking to your community supports: your spouse, your friends, your neighbors, someone you know in a similar situation. Try your community or religious leaders. Any type of connection will be healing.

If none of those spaces feel comfortable to speak about the significance of your work stress, consider therapy. Just like any other emotional stress, workplace burnout does not just go away on its own. An individual therapist can not only listen and validate, but they can help you navigate all the options you have to “SCREW” your problems.

Montgomery County Counseling Center can help

If any of the above stressors are getting in the way of your ability to function at work, or in your life outside of work, consider individual therapy. Our expert therapists in Rockville, the District of Columbia, and the greater Maryland area, are available to help.

About the Author

Laura Goldstein, family therapist and DBT expert

Laura Goldstein, LCMFT is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist in Rockville Maryland and Founder of Montgomery County Counseling Center, LLC. Laura obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Family Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Laura became intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) through Behavioral Tech Linehan Institute in 2015. She is also Level 1 Trained in Gottman Couples Therapy. After working in both substance use and failure to launch IOP programs, Laura now works in her private practice alongside her excellent associates! Montgomery County Counseling Center serves individuals, families, parents, and couples who are struggling with intense emotions, fraught relationships, and maladaptive coping behaviors.

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