Is there a Specific Solution to Your Job Stress Situation?

‘Chronic job strain can put both your physical and emotional health at risk,’ says Paul J. Rosch, MD, the president of the American Institute of Stress, but when corporate wellness experts and the like talk about this strain, they tend to forget that we’re all individuals, and whack it all under the big umbrella term of “work stress”. There is a myriad of different causes of work stress, which require a variety of solutions. So, which of these specific situations is affecting your wellbeing both in and out of the workplace?


1. Overworked and underpaid: You get in, you sit down and you keep working right up until the last minute. However, even though you’re putting in every minute of every hour of the working day, you have no say in how you do things, what type of projects you work on or on your own schedule. Peter L. Schnall, MD, an occupational stress expert at the University of California, notes that “high-demand, low-control” jobs cause a great deal of strain to your mental wellness, but research suggests that you can ease the stress by finding ways to get more involved in decision-making.


2. Stalled career climber: Even though you’ve been working away and trying to get noticed, all you’ve managed to do is make your boss look good without them realising you did all the hard graft. You’re yet to receive a raise, a promotion, or even sufficient recognition for your blood, sweat and tears, and this is the perfect cocktail for stress, especially if you’re a very driven and ambitious person. Instead of stewing about these so-called “effort-reward imbalances” try talking to your boss about your career goals. You might not get a promotion there and then but at least everyone is then on the same page, and your boss can give you some insight about how to improve your situation.


3. Desert island desk-jockey: In an office full of colleagues and supervisors, you feel totally alone. You don’t feel like you can go to your boss for help or guidance, and you don’t have a trusted ally to turn to when you need a good vent. In order to do your job well, if at all, you need a good support system that includes practical support from your bosses and emotional support from colleagues. This means you need to communicate your needs more effectively, being more specific and persuasive with your boss and making the effort to connect with your co-workers.


4. The office doormat: You’re on the front-line, dealing with demanding and even nasty customers, but you’re now allowed to fight back. Instead, you have to take it all in your stride and maintain a facade of professionalism, calm, and courtesy, no matter how much they verbally abuse you. Dr Schnall explains, ‘When there’s a discrepancy between your internal state and the roles you’re expected to play at work, you experience what researchers call “emotional labour.”’ Again, you should talk to your boss about advice or additional training on how to handle difficult customers without taking it personally and feeling demoralised.


5. Terrorised by technology: Thanks to the internet and the nifty little smartphone your company so generously provided, you are now within reach 24/7, and don’t your colleagues know it! There’s no leaving work at the office anymore; you can’t even distinguish between your work and personal life. Dr Rosch notes, ‘Technostress is an important and growing issue,’ and you can forget that you control your phone, and not the other way around. Turn off email notifications on your phone and set aside three times in your day (during working hours) that you will check your inbox.

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