You do your best at work, but it is never enough. There are not enough hours in the day. You are failing at your job. You are depressed and you are tired. You are suffering from workplace stress.
According to Statistics Canada, “in 2010, 23.5% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that most days were ‘extremely or quite a bit stressful,’ up from 22.3% in 2008.” This increase is disturbing because according to Health Canada, stress is considered a risk factor in heart disease, some types of bowel disease, and mental illness. So how can you protect yourself from workplace stress? You need to be able to understand the symptoms, and to arm yourself with strategies to prevent and alleviate it.
Do you feel sad, irritable, or guilty?
Have you been sleeping more or less than usual?
Have you been eating more or less than usual?
Are you having difficulty concentrating or making decisions?
Are your thoughts mostly negative?
Have you lost interest in things that you used to enjoy?
Do you feel restless?
According to Health Canada, these are all symptoms of stress.
In order to combat stress, first you need to understand it. What is triggering your stress? Some typical workplace stressors are: a demanding supervisor; too much work to do; unrealistic time constraints; regularly dealing with people who are upset; or having little or no control over how you spend your work day. Make a note of when you feel particularly stressed. This will help you to identify your stress triggers.
Once you know what is causing your stress, start taking steps to remedy the situation. You will continue to feel this stress until you either solve the problem, or learn to live with it. While confronting the problem, could be difficult and unpleasant, it is better (for your health) than letting the problem persist, and allowing the stress to consume you.
Talk to your friends and family about your stress. Sometimes just the act of talking about it helps to alleviate the tension. Also, since they know you, they may be able to give you some useful advice. If nothing else, it is healthy to have the people close to you understand what you are going through.
Find a stress buster that works for you. What makes you feel relaxed? Is it taking your dog for a walk? Going for a run? Painting a picture? Going out with friends? Doing yoga? Taking a small break from your stress by doing something that you enjoy can sometimes provide you with the strength that you need to assess and solve your problem.
Every job has stress. It is just the nature of our busy world. The trick is to keep it under control and don’t be overcome by it. Be aware of your triggers, and take action whenever they are present. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. If you put so much pressure on yourself that you make yourself miserable and sick, are the rewards worth the damage that you are doing to your relationships and your health?
(Written by Karen Bivand)