Managing work stress can seem more difficult because the stakes are high. Most of us will have to work at some point in our lives. Applying some simple concepts can go a long way to helping you decrease your work stress.
Work is something that most of us have to do to live our lives as comfortably as we can. For many work can take on a life of its own creating a high level of stress which can drain you of energy. If you are feeling stressed at work you are not alone. According to The American Institute for Stress about 65% of workers experience stress in the workplace.
Taking hold of work stress is different for everyone depending on the type of job. Those with jobs that offer the most autonomy tend to have less stress overall. Because when work stresses rise those with higher levels of autonomy have the ability make decisions to offset stresses.
When you start to feel overwhelmed with anxiety due to work stress sit down and ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I sleeping well?
- When was the last time I exercised?
- Do I eat well and regularly?
Once those areas have been addressed move on to the following questions:
- Are you over functioning on the job?
- Can you better balance to chores of the job with the less stressful aspects?
- Is it feasible for you to decrease your number of work hours?
- Is this job the right one for you?
- Can you better set limits on the number of hours you work?
Often we get into a rut and just make assumptions about how our work must go. Asking the above questions can help you start to pinpoint which aspects of work are most stressful for you.
Functioning within the demands of the job to better manage work stress.
Ask yourself am I stressed because I am giving more than the job demands? If the answer is yes, is this something that you can cut back on? We often train others to believe that we are ready to give a 110% all the time. That’s okay if you’re happy with it, but if the result is just higher stress levels, you may want to consider pulling back a bit.
Finding better balance to decrease stress.
Most jobs are a mix of things we enjoy and parts that are drudgery. Are you focusing all your energies on the chore aspects of the job and not getting around to the more joyful aspects? If so you may want to look at how you can organize your job to have a better balance between the two.
Can you decrease hours?
Many times we assume that we must work full time. If you continue at a job for a number of years you may be able to cut back on your hours. This option isn’t for everyone. If you are able to decrease your work hours, you may find that your stress levels also go down.
Limiting your time to decrease work stress.
While we are talking about hours. Ask yourself if you are one of the people who can work for long hours and not realize how much time you are putting in. If so you be subjected to stress from family and friends who wonder why they aren’t getting more of your time. If this is you start looking at how you can limit your time, still getting all your work completed, but also being able to spend quality time with friends and family or just doing leisure activities at home.
Optimizing paid time off
Since we opened the door to discussion of time away from work, another good question to ask is, Am I optimizing my vacation time (or Paid time off)? If you work a job in which you get paid time off for vacation then optimizing that feature of your job can also reduce your stress.
When I started my career in nursing I made the decision that once I had accumulated a set number of vacation hours that I would begin taking time away from work. I didn’t have to go anywhere special, but this self imposed rule meant I must take time off work. After accumulating vacation time I thought was sufficient (which took about a year) I started taking at least 1 week away from work every 3-4 months. That was 22 years ago and I still maintain that regimen and find that it helps me manage my stress fairly well.
If your job doesn’t have paid time off, you may consider starting a vacation bank account in which you save money to pay bills when you want to be away from work. This also works out well if you have a sudden illness that takes you off the job for an extended period.
And lastly ask if the job you are doing is the right one for you. If not how can you start to make a shift so that you are moving into a job that better fits you? This may take time and require you to investigate other options and maybe even try some things out prior to quitting your current job. Finding a job that is a good fit for you can decrease your stress significantly.
Once you have a better idea of which aspects of your work you find stressful you will then be able to use the 5 step method to determining how to change things to bring your stress under control. You can revisit the 5 step method in Stress-101 here.
Try it out and let me know how it works for you.
Have a great day–Lynda
Thank you for dropping by The Stress Nest. Please leave suggestions in the comment section.
Note: This site is not intended as a replacement for formal mental health treatment. If you believe you have issues more than what this site can address please contact a local mental health professional.