Has your career left you overwhelmed? Do you feel increasingly uninspired and depleted? Research suggests that, after continually escalating for the last few decades, work-related stress has reached epidemic levels.
It seems that work-related stress is largely related to the perception of control. Studies have shown that it’s highest among workers who report a large number of demands being placed upon them, combined with the sense that they have little control at work.
Other factors that contribute to work-related stress may include low salaries, limited opportunities for advancement, lack of social support, and a sense of being unappreciated.
Equally important, workers report that their hours are getting longer and longer. Even after the workday, they’re regularly expected to respond to emails and phone calls. All of these factors contribute to the experience of stress.
How can you cope, when you feel stressed out by your work? Try the following:
- Speak with your manager: Think about some specific changes that could improve your experience at work, such as adding more meaningful tasks to your roster, adjusting your workstation to make it more ergonomic, or increasing the flexibility of your schedule. Then, arrange a discussion with your supervisor to discuss them. Feeling relaxed at work leads to enhanced productivity, and so it’s in your manager’s best interest to help you feel more at ease.
- Set boundaries: Do you sometimes take work-related calls during your kids’ soccer games, or finish projects on your days off? In our fast-paced society, it’s easy to feel pressured to perform, even on your downtime, and this intensity is sometimes even glamourized. Trust us – you won’t get a medal for working yourself into the ground. Aim to establish boundaries so you have a chance to “shut off” from your responsibilities.
- Develop healthy responses: It’s not uncommon to occasionally eat excessive junk food, have one drink too many, or zone out for extended periods in front of the television in an effort to numb negative feelings associated with work. However, if workplace stress is a regular occurrence in your life, it’s essential to develop an arsenal of healthy coping methods. These methods look different for everyone, but may include exercise (any kind will help), cooking healthy meals, journaling, nurturing important relationships, and reconnecting with your favourite hobbies.
- Make time for relaxation: It sounds so simple, and yet many people don’t know how to relax. Even when they look calm, their minds are a blur of thoughts, which may revolve around deadlines, a fear of failing at work-related projects, or office politics. If this is you, you may want to try engaging in mindfulness (to read more about it, click here), guided meditation, or gentle exercises, like walking and stretching.
- Get enough sleep: The research is clear – the less sleep you attain at night, the less equipped you’ll be to manage stress. Aim for seven to nine hours per night. Need some tips to improve your sleep quality? Check out our post on improving sleep.
- Seek out support: Speaking with trusted co-workers, friends, or family members may provide you with relief, or even give you insight into solutions to your work-related stresses. Should you continue to feel taxed, you may choose to seek professional assistance in managing your overwhelm. If online therapy appeals to you, check out Lightwell’s services.