How to Manage Job Stress
According to The American Institute of Stress, job stress is the top source of stress for American adults and "it has escalated progressively over the past few decades" (The American Institute of Stress. Workplace Stress). Not only can it make you unhappy with your job and cause your performance to suffer, but it can also impact your physical and mental health.
It is essential that you learn how to manage job stress before it leads to long-term problems from which it will be difficult to recover. Let's look first at some of the top causes of job stress and the issues associated with it. Then explore some ways to manage it.
Causes of Job Stress
It is helpful to identify what is causing your job stress. Only then can you attempt to manage it. Here are some possibilities:
- Overwork: When engaged in a big project at your job, it may be necessary to spend a lot of time at the office or be forced to take work home with you. If it happens infrequently, it is unlikely to become a problem, but if you regularly have to stay late or continue to work from home after hours, you may begin to feel stressed out.
- Job Insecurity: It isn't surprising to be worried if you are afraid you are going to lose your job at any moment. Impending layoffs are very stressful.
- Career Dissatisfaction: If your career isn't a good match for your personality type, aptitudes, work-related values, and interests, you are unlikely to be satisfied with it. It is critical to consider these traits when choosing a career.
- Job Dissatisfaction: Working in a job that doesn't fully utilize your abilities and talents or in one in which you don't have the right skills is stressful. Before you accept a job offer, make sure the position is a good fit.
- Conflict With Your Boss or Coworkers: Considering the amount of time you spend at work, good relationships with your colleagues are imperative. They can make a good job better, and help you survive a bad one.
Effects of Job Stress
Seventy-two percent of people who have daily stress report that it interferes with their lives. Thirty percent of respondents say they have taken medication to manage their anxiety and related problems like nervousness and sleep disorders (Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ADAA]. Highlights: Workplace Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey).
Job stress can lead to chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychological disorders, according to The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a division of The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you catch symptoms early, you can resolve problems before they lead to more severe consequences.
NIOSH points out that some of the early warning signs to look for are job dissatisfaction, sleep disturbances, headache, trouble concentrating, a short temper, an upset stomach, and poor morale. Also be aware of a change in personal relationships, increased use of drugs or alcohol, and teeth grinding.
The ADAA's Workplace Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey found that workplace stress can also cause problems on the job. Individuals who suffer from it report problems with job performance, work quality, and relationships with coworkers and superiors.
Managing Your Job Stress
Here are fixes that can help you solve some of the problems that are causing you to be stressed. Each one is specific to a specific cause that was previously discussed.
- Take a Break: If overwork has become a problem, find a way to get away from your job for a bit. If you can take a vacation, that will provide the best relief. If you can't get away for an extended period, try to leave on time at least a few days a week. Avoid bringing work home with you every day. Take a lunch break as often as possible and use that time to go for a walk or engage in another relaxing activity.
- Prepare for a Layoff: While a looming layoff can be very unsettling, being proactive can reduce some of your stress. Have a plan in place should you end up unemployed.
- Change Your Career: If you find that you made the wrong career choice, or your career is no longer fulfilling, it may be time for a change. Choose carefully.
- Quit Your Job: While resigning may seem like an extreme action, it may be your only option if your job is making you miserable, and especially if it is making you sick.
- Improve Your Workplace Relationships: Look for ways to resolve conflicts with your boss or coworkers. Although it may be difficult, it is worth the effort.
- Get Professional Help: Finally, If your stress is having a profound effect on your well-being, don't be afraid to get professional help.
Identifying the sources of your job stress and finding ways to manage them can improve your overall mental and physical health. It can, as well, have a positive effect on your career and life in general.