Sunday, August 30, 2009

Overworked, Under Appreciated and Stressed Out at Work?

Managing work-related stress can be particularly challenging – especially during tough economic times…

With so much downsizing and “reorganizing”, the workplace is changing and becoming more stressful than ever before. Whether you were laid off, or still working, but doing the work for the people who were laid off – managing work stressors are particularly difficult. This article will examine what work related stress looks like and what can be done to help alleviate the stress.

Work related stress affects both your professional and personal life. Work stress can spill over and affect your family at home just the same as family stress can spill over and affect your actions at work. Have you ever come home from a stressful day on the job and raised your voice at a spouse, your client or a friend when they haven’t done anything wrong? This can happen when we don’t recognize how work stress affects us and learn what we can do about it.

The following are examples of how work stress can affect you as an employee:
1. Decreased Productivity
2. Increased Absences due to illness, anxiety or fatigue
3. Decreased Attention Span/Focus
4. Increased Interpersonal Issues (fighting with boss/coworkers)
5. Tardiness

Here are examples of how work stress can affect your family and home life:
1. Increased negativity and pessimism
2. Decreased Positive Communication
3. Moodiness
4. Decreased Patience
5. Increased Fighting

So, what can we do about it? Following are some steps to take control of your work stress and get your life back in balance.

1. Separate your work and home life by setting up a boundary between them.
a. For example, you can change your cloths when you get home, or listen to calming music, or even journal about your day. Then, after your activity, recognize that work is over and family time has started. Having a specific behavior or activity can help you to put the workday behind you so you can focus on your life.
b. Turn off your work phone and email when you get home. Do not check your work phone or email until you get to work the next day. This way, you are not inviting work into your home.

2. Take care of yourself.
a. Find a hobby or activity you like to do. Playing soccer or joining a women’s group can help fill your life with meaningful, fun activities. This way, you are more than your job.
b. Talk to others when you are feeling particularly stressed. Be open about your feelings and do not bottle them up inside – or they will explode at a time when you do not want them to.

3. Use Humor – carefully.
a. Using humor can increase moral and a feeling of cohesion both at work and at home. It can also increase positive communication.
b. Smiling and laughing actually releases “feel good” chemicals in your brain that will help lift your mood if you are having a tough day.
*note* Humor can exclude and alienate if not used with caution.

4. Improve Your Time Management
a. Get Organized! If you need help, ask a friend or coworker to help you organize your workspace and your priorities. You will find yourself becoming more time efficient the more organized you are.
b. Take short breaks throughout the day – that way you are refreshed when you are working and use your time productively.
c. Set a goal and a plan for working towards them. This way you are working smarter, not harder.
d. Practice deep breathing or another relaxation technique if you find yourself overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.

5. Get Help
a. If you need help at work – talk to your boss, find a mentor, or confide in a coworker who understands and can help you to work through them.
b. If you are having difficulties at home – talk about them with your family. Opening up lines of communication will promote understanding and can lead to positive change and acceptance.
c. If you are feeling overstressed with work and cannot find a way to manage the stress, or if you begin to feel anxiety or depression that interferes with your life, call a counselor, therapist or coach in your area for help.