Is your work-related stress becoming a problem?

Is your work-related stress becoming a problem?
August 25, 2015 David Shanley, Psy.D.

Take a few moments to answer these questions about stress in your life. When you get home, do you have trouble leaving work at work and just relaxing/engaging at home? Do you feel like you are constantly worrying about work? Are you experiencing problems with sleeping or eating that you think may be related to stress? Do you bottle all of this stress up instead of finding any outlet for it?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time to address your work-related stress before it takes over your life. According to the American Institute of Stress, nearly 80% of workers feel stress on the job. One might conclude from this that stress is therefore inevitable, and there’s nothing one can do about it. Unfortunately, that attitude is likely to lead to feeling hopeless, burned out, and depressed.

Instead, I encourage individuals to take an honest look at their job, career, life, and values. There is no formula for the perfect work-life balance; this is something that every individual needs to find for him or herself. So ask yourself, what do you care about most? How many hours per week are you willing to work to achieve your career goals? How important is money and salary in your life? How much time do you want to have for spending time with family, friends, self-care, travel, exercise, sleep, and recreation?

If when answering these questions you realize that work is taking up a larger portion of your life than you want, see if you can set some limits or boundaries at your job. Are you utilizing all of your vacation and sick days? Are you staying at work late without compensation and slowly building resentment toward your job? Have the hard conversation with your boss about burnout and stress.

Are coworkers at your job causing your stress? Can these issues be resolved? Again, if you are willing to have a difficult or awkward conversation with someone who is causing you stress, you might find that it relieves your stress in the long run to resolve it. Don’t avoid; address your stress and your problems head on. There are solutions; it just may take some creativity and willingness to find them.

In general try to follow these guidelines: stay organized, set limits, don’t bring work home with you if you can avoid it, take breaks throughout the day, do something rewarding for yourself everyday after work (exercise, fun activity with friend or family), get enough sleep, and make sure you are eating well.

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