According to the World Health Organisation, work-related stress is 'the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope'.
Most of us face high levels of work-stress at some point in our careers, so it's important we know how to manage it better, and adapt our working lives in response.
Struggling to sleep, despite being exhausted.
Waking up with a feeling of dread each morning.
Feeling tense, irritable & on-edge throughout the day.
Being stuck in "work-mode" when you're at home.
Stomach problems, back pain or headaches.
Anxiety, self-doubt & overthinking.
Being overworked or taking on too much.
Being underpaid or feeling undervalued.
Working for a bad boss or difficult manager.
Grinning and bearing a job you don't enjoy.
Working hours conflicting with your personal life.
Having no power to speak up about issues.
The first thing you need to do is tell someone at work about your situation. Ideally, your boss or manager. This will help them understand the challenges you're facing and they may be more careful about overloading you with work. If you talk to them and get a harsh response — you will likely need to consider looking for a new job. Either way, speaking up will bring light to potential issues in the workplace and help your co-workers to see your perspective.
Take control of the situation.
Bring clarity to the issues.
If you can, take a holiday or go on long weekend. Aim to leave work on time (or early if you can). Spend time with your friends, go out with your partner, or do something with your kids. Spend time doing things that interest you; develop new hobbies, learn a new skill. All of these things this will help you take a step back, and see your life at work in context with the rest of your life.
This isn't always possible. So if you're near breaking point and are risking total burnout, consider taking time off work. In order to qualify for paid leave, you will need a doctor's note. Your GP may also refer you for CBT or counselling to help you address your symptoms.
Join a gym or health club and start exercising more regularly. The link between exercise and stress is beyond question; regular exercise decreases stress, raises mood, improves energy levels, helps you sleep better, and breaks up tension in the body. You don't have to go overboard either, 2-3 hours of exercise a week will have a significant effect on your wellbeing. Furthermore, if you can go for a steam room or sauna a couple of times a week — it will definitely help you relax!
Besides exercise, eating a more nutritious diet and cutting down on caffeine (if you consume large amounts) will help you reduce stress. Evidence suggests that stress can affect our gut health, and vice-versa. This is why we often have stomach problems when we're stressed. So, it's important to eat vitamin-rich foods, drink plenty of water, and consume probiotics, such as yoghurts, kefir & miso to maintain your gut health.
Have more energy.
Feel more relaxed.
Ultimately, the root cause of work-related stress is being in a job that isn't right for you, and doesn't fit the life you want to live. If stress at work is always there, and there's little you can do within your organisation to make things right — you need to start planning your route to a new job. However, you don't want to start looking for any job, or you could fall back into the same trap. You need to spend some time considering what the right job for you actually looks like.
What do you value in a role? What stress triggers should you seek to avoid in your next career move? It's critical to get a clear picture of what it is you want from your working life before you can craft an effective strategy to land your ideal job. This is where you should consider getting support from an expert. A qualified career coach can help you discover your options, create stronger applications, prepare for interviews, and centrally — land a job you love.
Find the job you're meant to be doing.
Develop life-long career skills.
Gain a sense of purpose.
We'll help you address the root cause of the problem & find the job you're meant to be doing. Book a free 20-minute consultation with one of our Career Guides today & take action against work-related stress.