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December 7, 2022
Mind & Body

Is Your Job Causing You Stress and Anxiety?

job anxiety

It is hard to look at our mental health from an objective point of view. But sometimes it’s good to reflect and do a stocktake on how your headspace is doing and what you need to do to improve it. Let’s take a look at is your job causing you stress and anxiety

A huge part of our lives today is work. And we all know the demands work can place on us. It is a societal force that we have been brought up in and governs the basis of our lifestyles.

job causing stress and anxiety

After all, most of us have built our life around our income, so this becomes a mortgage in our lives. And like any mortgage, it has fluctuations that can affect our mental health.

A new year is a good time to take stock of our job stress levels and see if they are sustainable or if we can do something to help ourselves.

Is your job causing you stress and anxiety?

With rising levels on unemployment and the economic insecurity that Covid has brought, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling “#blessed, #grateful” for simply having a job. And this feeling also makes us less inclined to look at our job objectively. But unless we stocktake our job stresses

Take some time to relax and have an internal look at where your job is taking you, do you have a strategy to get there and is it ultimately worth it.

Is your stress and wellbeing at work having negative impacts on other areas of your life? Is your relationship suffering, are you using coping mechanisms, such as excessive drug and alcohol use more?

Are you finding it hard to get motivated to exercise? These can all be side effects of job stresses that are detrimental to your overall lifestyle.

Job Stress Symptoms

Often job stress symptoms are ignored or not taken seriously enough, because as we get older and our financial responsibilities become greater, we think there is very little choice.

I will talk about choices of stress reduction later, but for now, let’s have a look at some of the job stress symptoms you might be exhibiting.

Not all these symptoms are purely signs of stress at work, they can apply to other stress triggers also. But if you are suffering from these, have a good look at your overall lifestyle, you will know what they are being triggered by.

This is your internal stress and wellbeing at work stocktake. This list was compiled by Dr Paul McLaren (MBBS, FRCPsych,MA,BA,MSc) leading Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Priory Hospital.

  • Insomnia leading to tiredness
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Low mood
  • Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Low productivity accompanied by feelings of low achievement
  • Regular absence and a higher sickness rate
  • Being accident-prone
  • Being cynical and defensive
  • Finding fault
  • Headaches
  • Backache
  • Indigestion
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Regular or lingering colds
  • Feeling of anxiousness
  • Difficulty with decision making

So, you have done your stocktake and now you need to make some decisions and maybe even some changes. Identify the levels of job stresses your dealing with.

This will help break down what part of your job is the most stressful. Make a list from most stressful to least and start with the least stressful.

Then start working on some strategies to eliminate the stressful element. If you start with something that is minimal, strategize it and overcome it, it will give you the confidence to tackle a bigger stress issue. Remember stress and well being at work, is paramount to mental health.

Most of us are spending between 6-10 hours physically at work, for 75% of our week, so for us to be a healthy, happy, functioning adult, we need to be able to cope well.

job stressors

Personal Finances and Job Stress

Unfortunately, these two lifestyle factors can be a dysfunctional marriage. This is where you may have to have a look at your overall spending habits in conjunction with your job.

If your stress and well being at work is having an impact on your physical health, you might need to look at scaling down your personal expenses to find a way to get a better life/work balance.

This is not an option for everyone, and we will discuss other coping strategies, but this union can’t be overlooked. Also, dynamics can change in a work environment, so perhaps what was working for you in your career, when you took that extra credit isn’t working for your health now.

Have a look at what financial demands you have. Then, if it suits, look at either cutting down your job hours to relieve stress. Or, alternatively, streamlining your expenses, to give yourself some work flexibility.

Coping Strategies for Job Stressors

Once you have identified if your job is causing you stress and impacting your physical and mental health, it’s time to do something to manage it. Here are some coping strategies, to give you back control.

Talk to your Employer. – I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds. But remember bosses have lives outside work and in most cases, honesty is the best policy. You can do this without feeling your failing.

Just be honest, clear, and non-confrontational. More than likely your employer has picked up that something isn’t right and will appreciate your openness with them, together you can work out a strategy to deal with your stress.

Look after your Health

Like any other situation in your life, your personal health and fitness will have an impact on your performance. It’s easy to be consumed by the stress at work and use unhealthy coping strategies. This will only exacerbate your feelings of despondency.

While it is going to be hard for the first couple of weeks, you will need to start looking after yourself. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, start doing some exercise regularly and start eating well.

You will notice the changes to your mental and physical health, and this will enable you to start thinking more clearly about your strategy to deal with job stressors.

Get Organised

Start at your workstation. It is very true that a cluttered space will give you a cluttered mind. And a disorganised workstation will have a negative impact on your own mind and reflects on your co-workers. So, clean up!

A clean, organized work environment will also help you categorise and prioritise. If you need additional infrastructure ie: filing cabinet, toolbox etc, again talk to your employer, more than likely they will be pleased you have taken on this initiative.

Colleagues

Colleagues at work are a unique melting pot and can have a huge impact on your stress and wellbeing at work. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to change this dynamic if it doesn’t work for your personality.

Some advice is to simply have as little interaction as you possibly can with other workers. There is no need to be abrasive or rude but remind yourself that you are not obligated to like these people, just to work with them.

If you find they are unreasonable, point it out, after all you’re an adult and have every right to set applicable boundaries. Work isn’t a popularity contest, and you don’t have to act like it is.

If you’re doing your job satisfactorily, don’t let another worker bring you down, rise above it and protect your boundaries.

Deadlines and Responsibilities

If your job stressors are performance-based have a look at how you’re working and what is expected from you. Is there a way you can delegate some tasks to make your work easier?

Are you exerting too much energy into certain areas and can you scale these back? Or is it simply that the deadlines and responsibilities demanded of you are just unrealistic.

If this is the case, you are going to need to talk to your boss. Before you do that, analyse what you’re doing, so that you can present it to them in a succinct, structured way. They may not understand the deadline their setting is unrealistic.

Or they may not realise the work you’re putting in to meet their expectations. If you have a good presentation of your work vs deadline, you will find that they will be more than happy to accommodate you and work with you to make it more realistic and less stressful.

Your stress and well being at work not only affects you but affects all those around you. Your family, your colleagues, and your employer. For all these reasons, you need to take a mental health check.

Be proactive with dealing with it and remember, you only have one life, but you can have many careers. You have built a network, a reputation, and a life that can be altered at any stage.

Sure, it may take some planning, but if you find your job’s negativity is really impacting on the other areas of your life that previously you enjoyed, its time to move.

Decide, one way or the other. You can strategize, take responsibility, and give your best effort to improving the quality of your current job. Or you can plan, look, and make provisions to move on to a new work environment.

Either choice has pros and cons of course, but what is non-negotiable is the health and that will always have to come before the mighty dollar.

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