Dealing With Workplace Stress in San Diego
Everyone who has had a job has experienced some form of workplace stress. In today's society, with non-stop connectivity to work via technology (smart phones) an increased pressure to get more done in less time, and the difficulty in balancing our family and person obligations with work, we are all susceptible to hitting the wall, feeling overwhelmed, and becoming stuck in a stressful rut.
Long term stress has many well studied and proven negative side affects on our health and our overall ability to enjoy our work and personal lives. It seeps into our relationships and causes us to feel restless, irritable and discontent. Often it is difficult to for us to even see that our work is causing the stress. We are quick to blame ourselves for "not being able to handle" the pressure or workload.
The American Pscyhological Association cites common stresses of work including:
- Low salaries
- Excessive workloads
- Few opporunities for growth or advancement
- Work that isn't engaging or challenging
- Lack of social support
- Not having enough control over job-related decisions
- Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations
There are several different scenarios where workplace stress may arise and it is important to differentiate between the two. The first is periodic, or situational stress which can occur from a perfect storm scenario where we are running up against deadlines, or simply have too much on our plate all at once. The second, more systemic and worrisome, is an ongoing and pervasive stressful work environment. This can occur when the wokplace is unhealthy, when we are chronically unhappy in our job, or when we are being subjected to discrimination and/or a hostile workplace environment over a long period.
The first, and most important step in dealing with workplace stress is to admit to ourselves that we are suffering and to hold that suffering with compassion. Too often we blame ourselves and believe that the way out of the stress is to buckle-down and work even harder. Once we admit to ourselves that we are struggling, we become aligned with our emotions. It is from this place that we can then take meaningful and intentional action to get the support we need, and to give ourselves the care we need to get back into balance and to restore the lost energy.
Once we've admitted to ourselves we are struggling, it is important to remember that everyone experiences workplace and personal stress. We are in good company and are not the only ones who deal with these issues. I find it extremely beneficial to touch base with a mentor or healthy support friend so that I can voice the issue and get it out of the confines of my head. Though we are often scared that if we put our fears or stress into words, it will then become real. We ignore the fact that we have been suffering for some time and that the "way out, is through". One of the techniques I use is to call a support friend and let them know I'm feeling bad and ask if it's ok if I share a little bit. I have found that people love to be of support and are honored that you trust them with your personal issues. I then give a brief overview of how I'm feeling, usually something like, "I am stressed and overwhelmed at work, feel stuck in a rut, and feel like I'm the only one dealing with these issues. It's been rough." I'm always relieved to hear that my friend has experienced the exact same thing at times and to get reassurance that these feelings will pass.
Finally, it is important to take an honest inventory of how best to provide self care to ourselves while stressed. Paradoxically, the cure for stress is not to buckle down and get more done, but often to slow down and engage in those activities (walks, baths, massage, watching a favorite movie or tv show, enjoying a cup of tea or dinner with a friend) that actually work to recharge our batteries and remind us how good our lives are. Workplace stress can make our lives feel small, as if they are focused only on our problems. We have to make a commitment to joy...to do those activities that provide joy, instead of sitting around and waiting for things to change. If the stress continues, we can reach out for professional hep from a phsychologist or speak to our doctor.
Work is a big part of our lives, getting in alignment with a balance of self care and reaching out for support can help us get through both periodic and situational workplace stress and help us to enjoy our lives more.