Did you know that a full time job from age 20 to age 65, means spending over 93,000 hours working? If you don’t know how to deal with stress at work, that’s a lot of unhappy hours. And job stress can spill beyond your work day as well. It is possible to handle the stress of your job, however, so it doesn’t take over your life. You just need a plan.
Create a DIY job stress relief plan. In a 12 Step program for job stress, this is where I would stand up and say, “Hello, I am a workaholic.” Or a recovering one at least. I used to go to bed worrying about work, dream about it, and wake up stressed again. I gave it every ounce of my effort, developed a whole host of stress related ailments, and collapsed on my days off.
So, I am here to tell you, it’s not worth it. If your company starts to go under, as many of mine did, your investment of blood, sweat, and tears will mean very little. Instead, if you create a plan to deal with your stress at work today, it can also help you deal with job hazards that might appear tomorrow.
1. Acknowledge that being stressed at work does not equal doing a good job. You may think your boss has to see you stressed to understand how hard you work. But letting the job stress get to you actually keeps you from doing your best. Your mind will be sharper, and you’ll get more done, with a good night’s sleep.
Organize the end of each work day to be ready for the next one, and you’ll feel more confident going home. Get some exercise to work off tension, or do some enjoyable activity to refresh your mind. Turn off your phone, don’t check your work email, and reclaim your evenings. Clear your mind before bed, and start fresh tomorrow.
2. Evaluate where your stress is coming from. Is it the work itself? Are you confused or feeling in over your head? If so, a good boss would rather you ask for clarification than do things wrong. Ask if extra training is available, or take classes to further your understanding. The more you know, the less apt you are to feel overwhelmed.
Look at all the other sources of job stress the same way. It could be your co-workers, your work schedule, or a non-stop pace. Dealing with each stressor individually is far more effective than trying to tackle them together.
3. Drop the gossip. Gossip in the workplace is a parasite. It constantly needs feeding, and only leaves bad feelings wherever it goes. At first, you may have just wanted to belong. But if the gossipers talk about everyone else, before long you’ll begin to worry what they say about you. You’ll stress about who might want your job, or whatever else someone might do to sabotage your career.
When you pull yourself away from workplace gossip, a lot of stress at work will magically disappear.
4. You are not responsible for other people’s problems. Are you the person co-workers and subordinates turn to for support? It’s nice to feel needed, until you are weighed down with their personal problems. A great boss reminded me once that camp counselor was not in my job description. It was a valuable lesson that helped me lose a lot of stress at work, and probably helped the other people learn to cope on their own.
5. If the job is wrong for you admit it and consider a change. Sometimes what was a great job once becomes not so great any more. Maybe the work itself changed, or the people you valued are gone. Or maybe you knew from day one.
Continue to do the best work you can, because you owe it to them and yourself to do so. But begin to plan an exit strategy from a position of strength. Studies have shown that a lot of job stress occurs when we have little control. Taking control of your future, and moving to a job that is a better fit, can make a significant change in how you feel, so you’ll have far less stress at work to deal with.
What’s your biggest stress at work? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share us on social media. We love hearing from you.