By Perminus Wainaina
“My job is stressing me out..” read the email (in part) I received from Geoffrey.
He had joined an advertising agency seven years ago but felt like he had been there longer. When he first started at the company, he was set to help in leading a new branch in Naivasha. That, however, did not pick up and he was given a business development role at the leading branch.
“With this, I thought my salary would increase because the workload was unimaginable. Slowly, I started realizing that although it was a good role, my new boss made it difficult for me to execute my tasks. She would always come up with a new assignment I had to do, complain that I was not meeting my targets among other things.
I would go home and dread going to the office the following day. Slowly by slowly, I was feeling drained. I started having headaches that would not go even after taking painkillers. After close to seven years and minimal salary increase, I decided to leave.
All I wanted was my peace of mind.”
Everyone who has held a job before, at some point, has felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming—and harmful to both physical and emotional health.
Truth is, to be effective and happy at work, it’s important to be able to manage the stress that invariably comes with your job.
Learning how to effectively deal with these stressors is essential. If you lack good coping skills, you will eventually dislike your job. You will spend Sunday dreading going to work on Monday, and when back at work, you will find yourself counting the days until the weekend. All these will most likely lead to you being burned out and possibly quit the job due to too much stress.
However, there is a better approach, and it begins with using simple strategies that anyone can master.
Common sources of work stress
Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:
- Low salary
- Excessive workload
- Few opportunities 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
Here Are Ways To Cope With Your Job Stress:
1. Learn to Say “No”
Much of your stress may be caused because you over-extend yourself when responding to requests from colleagues for help. It is good to be a team player, but when this makes your work consistently suffer, then it’s doing you no good.
If saying “no” is not an option—as is the case when your boss gives you another assignment—then take a different approach.
Ask when the assignment is required and prioritize your work with that in mind.
2. Stay Away From Gossip
Gossip is more often than not, entertaining.
However, what you don’t know is that it eats into your time and slowly creates tension in the workplace. It also slowly exhausts your mental energy.
So stay away from work-related gossip and drama. Focus on your work, not drama.
3. Talk to your supervisor
Employee health has been linked to productivity at work.
Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor. The purpose of this isn’t to lay out a list of complaints, but rather to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you’ve identified, so you can perform at your best on the job.
While some parts of the plan may be designed to help you improve your skills in areas such as time management, other elements might include identifying employer-sponsored wellness resources you can tap into, clarifying what’s expected of you, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and reduce strain.
4. Get support
Accepting help from trusted friends, a mentor or family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have a stress management program available through an employee assistance program, including online information, available counseling, and even training.
Job stress impacts all of us. It cannot be avoided, but it can be managed. Make an effort to learn the skills required for dealing with this sort of stress and become happier. You will realize that you will also become more effective at your job. Most importantly, you will develop a sense of confidence and optimism that helps you live life more fully.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through career mentorship programs, he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing.N.B: Would you like us to consider you for a job opening? Boost your job search. Upload Your CV Here. It's FREE