By Catherine Adenle
How many of us allow workplace stress to overtake our lives? Some of us, all of us or a few of us? Then again, how much of that stress do we think is self-inflicted? Do we sometimes see things worse than they really are? Do we cause ourselves mental stress in many other ways as well? Do we always see the glass as half-empty?
In a US study, as many as 40% of workers described their jobs as very stressful. While not a scientific gauge and not measuring serious stress health problems, this gives some indication as to how prevalent work-related stress is.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between stress and pressure. We all experience pressure nearly on a daily basis, and we need it to motivate us and enable us to perform at our best. It’s when we experience too much pressure without the opportunity to recover that we start to experience stress. However, most of us do sometimes create our own unnecessary stress at work.
So, the question is, are you creating your own workplace stress? Do you think you sometimes create your own headache at work without realizing it? Well, to help you decide, see these 5 ways of creating unnecessary stress at work:
1. Do you think you are working too hard but not earning enough?
Welcome, stay in the queue and join the club. If you don’t know, now I am telling you, nobody in the world makes enough money! If you work hard and you are lucky to work in a company where importance is placed on learning and development, take the opportunity to develop yourself. Be keen to learn at the same time as you work, view this as your own pay back because you are investing in YOU. Why? You will be smarter, do great work and further add to your portfolio of skills. In the process, you can also make yourself relevant, grow your entrepreneurial skills and in the horizon, these things will translate to more money for you.
If you are hard working with the right set of skills and with an obvious ‘can do’ attitude, you will surely be able to hold your own. So, stop stressing, relax, stay focus, breathe, chill-out and smile. If money is the major source of your stress at work, then ask for a pay rise or look for a better paying job. However, you may find yourself still thinking you are working harder and not earning enough after few years in a newer job. It is a well admitted fact that money is not everything. Money is essential for survival and for having comforts but too much emphasis on money is like losing so much for so little.
2. Do you think your boss is a pain?
First, let’s do a little self reflection here – is your boss truly the problem or are you? If your boss is, then, that is a problem now because the unemployment rate is high, and to make matters worse, we don’t get to pick our bosses. Are you constantly banging your head against an invisible wall for this reason and stressing yourself out? Trust me when I say, fighting the battles you cannot win will generate massive workplace stress.
If the reason for your workplace stress is because you think your boss treats your colleagues better than you, perhaps you should look at your attitude at work. Did you ever think maybe, just maybe the problem is you? How are you with your boss? Is it a common issue with your team mates or are you the only one feeling this way? If you are the only one, then that is a stress you really don’t want. Do you have a face like thunder at work and always whining? Let’s see which are some of the main elements that create a stressful work environment for us at work – lack of time management; conflicts of priorities, lack of promotion and lack of reward after accomplishing a very hard task. However, if your boss is truly the common problem here, then, have a polite word with him. Let him know how you feel. If that doesn’t work, derive your own solution.
3. You have too much work, but too little time to relax?
Again, is this self inflicted? Do you know how to prioritize and time-manage your work? Are you sure that you are not over proving yourself? Efforts should be made by you not to mix up personal life with professional life. There should not be an encroachment. Are your deadlines real and not just you feeling self-important, pushing yourself too hard because you haven’t got a life outside work? Work life balance is important, if the people around you aren’t stressed, why should you? Suck it up, speak to your boss if necessary and slow down; what’s the worst that can happen? I bet your boss is playing golf while you work yourself to the bone. Get the job that will add value done on time and not the basic busy work. Use your yearly objectives and your point of discussions with your boss to determine what’s important.
“If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul”, Logan P.Smith.
4. Can’t stand your colleagues?
You just don’t get along with your colleagues because they are all annoying and it’s really stressful, right? Well, guess what? I bet they feel the same way about you, especially if your body language is saying what you have not verbalized. It happens to everybody. Try and behave differently, enjoy humours, smile more, it works because laughter produces helpful chemicals in the brain. Help your colleagues, don’t take them for granted and always remember your ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and positive reinforcements. Offer an olive branch if you have to. Swallow your pride and mingle with your work mates. It won’t kill you, what can kill you is the unnecessary stress you are putting yourself through.
5. You feel the management doesn’t listen or care?
Did it ever occur to you that your management staff are people too? To be honest, they have their own ton of issues and they’re not perfect just like you and I. Is a fact that some companies are well managed, while some are managed by incapable few? On the outside chance they’re mostly not idiots, did you ever think that maybe, they know a lot more than you do and they are doing a good job? It’s interesting how you think you can always do your manager’s job better than how he or she does it. In this case, stop stressing over what you have no control over.
Agreed, employers should provide a stress-free work environment, recognise where stress is becoming a problem for staff, and take action to reduce stress. In the workplace, stress reduces productivity, increases management pressures, and makes people ill in many ways, evidence of which is still increasing. Workplace stress affects the performance of the brain, including functions of work performance; memory, concentration, and learning. As an employee, if you can’t truly stand the management team, then, look to change jobs and move under a new management. A word of caution though, ensure that you are not jumping from frying pan to fire.
Finally, do you think that this article is taking your stress lightly? If you think this article oversimplifies things, think again. You may also be overcomplicating things. Try a little experiment: If you experience an issue or two and it changes when you change companies or groups, then you were probably in a dysfunctional workplace. Continue your search for a passionate, fulfilling job at a great company. You’ll find it. But if it doesn’t change, if it’s always the same, then it’s probably you. You might want to see a professional.
Workplace stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
Work stress should be addressed and not ignored. To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, excuses and consult someone if necessary.
So, are you creating your own workplace stress at work or not? Let’s hear from you.