Don’t Let Workplace Stress “Do You In”!

You worked hard to get where you are, but now you’re drowning in a hectic sea of work that threatens to overwhelm you completely. In fact, the stress you’re experiencing on a regular basis could actually, at some point “do you in.” Ever hear someone say, “The stress is killing me!”? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.

How Did Your Workplace Stress Get So Bad?

You might start by blaming the modern trend toward trying to do more and more while seemingly having less and less time to do it in. Many companies (or their management) bear a sizable portion of the guilt on this score. They demand that you base your hopes for career progress on dedicating a huge percentage of your time and energy to the company that pays your salary.

While a fair amount of dedicated effort is reasonable to expect, it’s not reasonable for your employer to require slavish devotion to the company and expect you to always put it first in your life (at least, in my not-so-humble opinion!). If you go along with that unreasonable demand, you need to accept your share of the responsibility for the workplace stress you’re getting hammered by.

On the other hand, if the stress-load sneaked up on you over the years–that is, didn’t clearly announce its arrival and growth to you–you might feel it was understandable that you didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. And you’d be right, but that doesn’t mitigate the severity of the professional crisis you’re now in. You need to do something, but what?

12 Steps to Reduce Workplace Stress

An article on  shares 12 strategies for making your career less stressful (and by definition that includes your workplace) . There isn’t space in this post to include the whole article, and you’ll  get the most value if you read the entire piece (it’s not long), but here are the basic steps:

  1. The Biggies: Sleep, Eat right, Exercise (an “oldie” but still a “goodie”)
  2. Establish Boundaries
  3. Reduce Interruptions
  4. Write Things Down
  5. Prioritize to Immediately Reduce Work Stress
  6. Clean up Your Desk or Workspace
  7. Show Up Early
  8. Listen to Music
  9. Schedule in Breaks (“It’s tempting to feel like the only way to manage a stressful workload is to power through it, non-stop. Turns out that’s actually counter-productive. It’s a fact: breaks let you get more done.”)
  10. Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings
  11. Reward Yourself for Working
  12. Be Thankful

Hint: Don’t arbitrarily dismiss one of these steps because it sounds so basic or simplistic. Sometimes simplicity can be highly effective!

Allow Yourself Some Breathing Room

If you’ve been beating up on yourself because you’re stuck in a high-stress work environment and haven’t yet taken steps to get out of it, don’t be so hard on yourself. As long as you’re still breathing, you have an opportunity to improve your situation and build a more sustainable path to long-term career success.

I’d like to close with a couple of quotes from American journalist Sydney J. Harris:

  • The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.
  •  When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’

Your life might sometimes offer you second chances; life itself doesn’t. Make this “first” one count!

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