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How to Keep a Job from Stressing You Out
Christine McDade is an experienced human resources manager.
Hate or Love It, Jobs Can Be Stressful
Many of us get wrapped up in a job, we either love or hate, that causes us much grief to the point of experiencing stress. As jobs are hard to come by, employees tolerate a lot of negativity because of the financial responsibilities demanded by their family. Even employment that generally is thought of favorably can cause an individual stress from time to time because of various workplace factors. For example, difficult personalities of co workers and customers can ruin anyone's good mood. Additionally, extreme workloads with limited staffing and resources can create a horrible work environment that leads to burnout. In general, employees often feel overworked, underpaid and generally unappreciated. These factors can bring on a lot of stress that can push the best of employees to the brink of distress.
Common Signs That Your Job is Stressful
There are common signs of stress that are expressed by employees who are experiencing distress from the job. Some things to watch out for are:
- Sleep Difficulty - As an employee, it is most important to get sufficient sleep in order to show up to work ready and able to do the job. Many employees toss and turn at night because they are distraught over an event at work or simply dread going to work the next day. These employees show up to work tired, with little energy. A lack of sleep will not put an individual in a good disposition to be very productive the next day.
- Loss of Appetite/Overeating - Many employees find themselves having different eating habits due to the stress experienced from work. Employees who do jobs that require them to be sedentary most of their shift will certainly be at risk of unhealthy weight gain when they overeat because of stress. Others may skip breakfast and/or lunch due to the stress they are experiencing at work. Good eating habits and regular exercise are crucial for healthy living that will spill over into the ability to be successful at a job.
- Quick Temper - Having a quick temper that causes caustic reactions in conversations with coworkers is also a common sign that an employee is stressed out at work. Some employees might display this quick temper with family and friends. Such unhealthy anger management behavior will become a liability for the employee who must work with others to get the job done.
- Health Issues Such as High Blood Pressure, Anxiety or Headaches - Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employees to have health issues aggravated from the stress that is brought on from a negative employment experience. Recognizing these health issues is especially important for employees distressed over work. When a job affects a person's health, it is a huge red flag that must not be ignored.
- Depression - Employees can certainly become depressed or feel some form of mental distress when they suffer regularly from the stress of a job. When undiagnosed, depression can be an illness that seriously affects an employee's well-being.
- Lack of Motivation - An employee who is unhappy with work and suffers from the stress created in such a situation will surely lack motivation to be successful at the job. If the employee feels trapped in the position, the person will likely perform unsatisfactorily or in a mediocre manner.
- Sudden Poor Performance - Employees experiencing stress may suddenly show a rapid decline in the performance of their job. Supervisors will notice a drastic decrease in productivity and overall job quality.
- Calling in Sick Excessively and Tardiness - Some employees may get so stressed about a job that they call in sick rather than face another stressful day at work. Calling in sick is not unusual if the employee is having a conflict at work or when they are about to face some form of disciplinary action. Calling in sick to work that day is one more day to avoid a pending negative situation.
- Difficulty With Interpersonal Communication - In addition to being dejected or withdrawn from conversation due to the stress being felt from the job, stressed employees may have a difficult time getting along with coworkers. Stress can have a negative effect on how employees function in the job to include their interpersonal communication that is required to do the tasks of the job. Refusing to cooperate or interact with others in a team-like manner is not unusual for the stressed out employee.
While the list above does not include every possible sign of a stressed out employee, it does provide some common examples that can be seen in such a situation. Employees who display these signs are likely to be experiencing some stress, either caused by the job or other outside factors. Since an employee exhibiting these signs is in need of assistance and direction to get through the problem, seeking professional guidance is paramount to returning to a better place both personally and professionally.
Recognize the Signs and Take Action
In order to stop the signs that result from stress on the job, employees should reach out to the right person and/or resource to deal with or get away from the situation that is the catalyst to the stress. Some basic ways to combat the stress and eventually eliminate it are:
- Eat Right and Exercise Regularly. Employees can start to feel better by taking better care to eat healthy foods and participate in regular exercise and physical activities. When one feels good about themselves, they will have a better self image which therefore boosts their self esteem. Employees who choose to eat right and get lots of exercise will also sleep soundly.
- Avoid Alcohol and Other Controlled Substances. A drink or taking a form of drug to help elevate the mood or make one forget their troubles will only be a temporary fix to stress. Furthermore, addiction to these temporary feelings of euphoria will take an employee down a troublesome path that affects their personal and professional worlds. Employees should look to other methods for helping them deal with stress. Freeing oneself from these addictions almost always require professional help.
- Get Adequate Sleep. As mentioned above, employees who get a good night's sleep will be ready to tackle whatever lies ahead for them the next day. As employees often go home to deal with a lot of family activities and responsibilities, it will be important for them to go to bed early from time to time for that much needed rest. Sometimes, a quick dinner and time to just relax with family for that much needed "down" time will be very beneficial to handling stress at work after a good night's sleep.
- Speak to Someone. Sometimes, speaking to a coworker, boss or trusted confident will allow an employee to get rid of some stress. The ability to "vent" about concerns and issues in the workplace that are causing this stress can be shared in a constructive, yet honest manner with someone the employee trusts. That person should be a good listener who can provide some good feedback. An employee should choose this person carefully to maintain confidentiality.
- Speak to Human Resources. If the source of the stress is a workplace injustice or a situation that could use some direction from Human Resources, make an appointment to meet with someone for their advice. Human Resources should be supportive of the employee and provide the guidance the stressed employee needs for feeling better.
- Prepare for a Move. Sometimes, employees make a decision to make a job move because they feel it is time for a change. Employees who have tried unsuccessfully to address the stress brought on by their job may start a search for a more satisfying position. If the employee works in an organization with many job titles, he/she may choose to seek a job transfer for a much needed change. Or, some employees may decide to update the resume to prepare for a move. For some employees, simply updating the resume and starting a job search can be uplifting to the spirits and a boost for the self esteem.
There are many basic ways to care for oneself when the stress of the job is just too much to handle for an employee. When employees follow some healthy lifestyle habits that make them feel better about themselves, they are better shielded from the stresses that come from normal situations and those negative circumstances in the workplace. In the event the employee cannot get past the stress, it is important to seek professional advice.
Seek Professional Health Advice and Care
When an individual starts to display signs of being stressed out from work and efforts to curb or eliminate this stress fails, it is important that the employee seek professional help as soon as possible. If the stress is starting to take a toll on the employee's health in ways as described above, the employee should go to their employee clinic, primary care physician and/or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for professional care. Seeking professional help will provide direction as to how to battle the issues so that the person's health is addressed immediately. A job should never get so stressful that it makes an employee sick. If this situation occurs for an employee, it is crucial for their well-being that they seek attention of a professional to catch or prevent a serious health issue.
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Don't Let the Job Destroy You
Past Presidents of the United States have been almost destroyed by their unsuccessful terms in this very stressful job. The stress of the the events and issues of the day weighed heavily on their psyche. One does not have to be a president, however, to experience stressful positions that can deteriorate personal health. Employees must look out for themselves to keep their well-being as a priority at all times. Instead of letting the job drive them to a point of dissatisfaction and potentially poor health, employees must take care that their needs are being met through prioritizing personal activities and lifestyle choices in their control. When a job becomes too much for an employee to be personally satisfied and professionally successful, it may be time to make a change.