Dealing with Stress at work
I work for a publishing company that was pretty small when I started almost 20 years ago and, over the course of that time, it has grown into a booming multi-million dollar business. Through the years, as I worked my way up the corporate ladder, I’ve certainly experienced my share of stresses. As time past by and my career grow within the organization theses stresses obviously increased or I acquire new stresses. More responsibility, more stress. Regardless of your position at work, the fact of the matter is that all jobs have a level of stress that is simply unavoidable. How do you remind yourself that “It’s just a job, not an adventure“?
It Happens to the Best of Us
Each one of us handle our stress in many different ways. It’s how you deal with stress that’s the key. However, not all stress is bad, and learning how to deal with and manage stress is critical to maximizing job performance and maintaining our physical and mental health. Without learning how to find a healthy balance it can lead towards a downward spiral in both your professional and personal life.
My job, as an example, tends to be high stress. I’m responsible for making sure a large organization, made up of various individual businesses can continue to make money and grow using the systems (or tools) my group provides. Sometimes, they don’t always work as well as they should and, when that happens, there’s perception, and in some cases a reality, that money is being lost. For any organization within my company that is generating 120 million a year, I better make damn sure those systems are working. Now my role is certainly nothing compared to a potentially dangerous job such as a firemen or police officers or any positions with demanding time pressures. My point is that stress is not limited to any one particular job or industry.
Warning Signs of Job Stress
Here are the most common warning signs of job stress and burnout:
- Low morale
- Physical problems
Causes of Job Stress
From my experience in working with all sorts of people over the course of my career, I believe that stress is caused by two things. Please keep in mind these are my thoughts only. I am in no way a doctor or scientist who’s studied the causes of stress at a deep level. Simply my opinion here.
The first has to do with working condition and also the company culture. A poor work environment can certainly cause stress. A poor work environment can cause someone to fear for their job while excessive workload, lack of clear direction, inflexible work hours, and conflicting job expectations can all play a part.
The second has to do with the differences in people. What I mean to say is that someones personality and coping abilities can be the difference between what will stress one person but not another. Everyone is different.
Strategies for Managing Job Stress
It’s important to develop methods of preventing job stress for yourself. Recognize what your stresses are and think of ways to counter your triggers.
5 tips for dealing with the stress of your job:
- Put things in perspective. I always say after dealing with a stressful situation, “No one died.” Remind yourself too that in the worst case scenario (losing your job) you can always make money and find another job. Your family, friends, and health on the other hand are not replaceable.
- Find a job your passionate about. There is truth to the saying that “if you’re doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
- Take a break. If you feel the stress building, take a personal day or use some vacation days. In any stressful situation, take a short walking around the block if you need to. Or find a quiet place and listening to some music. Get centered.
- Organize or plan your day. Each morning just take some time to organization your desk or workspace. Make a to do list. The feeling of disorganization can lead to stress. Create a routine that allow you to plan your day as much as possible.
- Have realistic expectations. Not just for yourself but for others wanting or needing something from you. Trying to accomplish too many things is unrealistic and only sets you up for failure, which leads to stress.
The Importance of Balance
It’s important to find a work/life balance. I have rules I follow once I get home from work. My time at home is focused on family. That doesn’t mean I don’t work in the evenings on occasion. However, I make sure that I spend time and engage with the ones I love first. I also make sure I give my undivided attention to them. That I’m present and in the moment with them. After some quality time, I might do some more work depending on my workload. Or I might write on my blog. My point being, that it IS possible to have a little of everything, but finding that balance is the key.
Now I realize this is cliche, but it’s critical to remember that your family, friends and health are everything in life. I recognize that having a fulfilling job is important too. It’s great to have a job which gives you a feeling productivity and being valued for your contributions, but remind yourself why you work…to do something you enjoy, but also because you want to support and provide for your family. To truly accomplish that you need to take care of yourself first, so that you can take care of the ones that matter most in your life. Jobs come and go. No job, customer, or boss is will ever care about you the way you care for it. Family first.
I’d love to hear you thoughts about stress of work and who you cope. What methods do you use to decompress or find perspective from a stressful day or situations?