You’re in that job for any number of reasons: the challenge, the paycheck, the chance to prove yourself…but you’re starting to feel the tiny cracks that your high-stress job is forming in your body and mind.
If you’re in a high-stress job of some kind, like a doctor, a CEO, a police officer or even a PR executive, you’ll likely love the adrenaline and challenge that your job provides. But you should also be aware of the physical and mental toll that stress can take on you over time.
CareerCast.com recently named nine professions as some of the most stressful in America, including those named above, along with event coordinators, reporters, broadcasters, airline pilots and firefighters. Do you hold one of these jobs? Or do you find your job incredibly stressful? Know that there are ways you can ease the strain (and they don’t include eating donuts in your car).
1. Take Breaks
A little stress is to be expected with just about any job. Deadlines pop up, emergencies mean a scramble, you pull the occasional all-nighter. It’s when the stress never ends that you can do your heart and mind damage. Literally.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”A little stress is to be expected with just about any job. Deadlines pop up, emergencies mean a scramble, you pull the occasional all-nighter. It’s when the stress never ends that you can do your heart and mind damage. Literally.” quote=”A little stress is to be expected with just about any job. Deadlines pop up, emergencies mean a scramble, you pull the occasional all-nighter. It’s when the stress never ends that you can do your heart and mind damage. Literally.”]
“In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating,” says the American Psychological Association (APA). “Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.”
Having a real rest, whether it’s that vacation you never take, or just some off-work time every night where you practice painting or volunteer at your local animal shelter (or really, just watch some cheesy television), is a way to drain that stress away on a regular basis. Heck, even just get some regular sleep!
Lolly Daskal writes at Inc. Magazine, “a Canadian study of nearly 900 lawyers found that taking vacations helps alleviate job stress. The effects last beyond the duration of the vacation, too: A small study from the University of Vienna found that after taking time off from work, vacationers had fewer stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities, and they still felt better five weeks later.”
2. Know That You’re Not Alone
Most of us are really bad at managing stress. It’s not that we don’t want to be better at it, it’s often we lack the tools we need to manage stress in a healthy manner.
“In 2012, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America Survey. Only 37 percent of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing stress.”
Stress shouldn’t be held as a badge of honor, either. You can actually get addicted to stress, if it’s more of a constant instead of an occasional occurrence.
Find your support system to help lessen your stress. Talk to coworkers about how they’re holding up and make a sincere effort to bring some non-work fun into your life. This doesn’t mean more pint nights and less sleep, however. Nor does it mean “mandatory fun” like the regular softball game where your boss demands a win. Instead, inspire them to take a ten-minute yoga break after an afternoon of crazy meetings. Be a leader in stress-management, not just stress absorption.
3. Recognize You Need to Work at It
Some ways you can help lower your stress…note I didn’t say “get rid of stress.” It’s about management of your stressors and making them relax a bit…include:
- measurable time away from work
- finding a good support system
Yes, it might seem odd to “work” at diluting your work stress, but what’s needed is slow and steady attention to what’s stressing you out, and how to get ahead of it. Keep a journal to track your stressors so you can put a ready finger on the problem(s). And once you’ve done that, mitigate them. Or, if you can, eliminate them entirely.
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What are your go-to stress reducers? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.