According to statista, The Statistics Portal, 64% of survey respondents reported having high levels of job-related stress that included extreme fatigue and feelings of being out of control. It is no secret that high levels of stress over a long period impact both physical and mental health and all of this leads to job burnout. In 2015, it was found that Millennials had the highest stress levels of any age group.
While some jobs innately bring higher levels of stress such as first responders, doctors, attorneys, etc.it is important to understand that it is more about the person in the job opposed to the job itself. Every person handles stress differently and what may be stressful to one person may not be to another. The way we individually handle stress is also as unique as those things that cause us stress in the first place. Having the tools and techniques to mitigate and minimize stress in the workplace is an important factor in reducing the chance of job burnout.
Here are some things anyone can do to overcome stress and manage it when it arises.
- Recognize it. This may seem obvious but it is not uncommon for us to ignore symptoms of stress until they become severe. These symptoms can be both physical and emotional and can include the following.
These are just a few and while they can also be attributed to other things as well it is important to recognize them when they occur while at work or as a result of work conditions.
Set Boundaries. This means not saying yes to every request that comes across your desk. Learning when to say no is an important skill. Don’t allow your co-workers or boss to treat you badly. Part of setting boundaries is setting the expectation of how you will be treated by others.
Shut Down. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hours Americans work has only just recently tapered off from the rising trend of the 1990’s, hovering somewhere just north of 40 hours weekly. That rise is due in large part to our ability to be connected to work 24/7. But more connectivity does not mean more productivity. Constantly checking our email and feeling like we have to immediately respond takes its toll and actually makes us less productive rather than more and creates stress that leads to work burn out. Try to leave work at the office or set a limit of time you will do work after regular business hours, the world won’t come to an end if you don’t respond to an email until the next day.
Take Time Off. According to Project Time Off 55 percent of Americans did not use all of their vacation in 2015, which is 658 million vacation days unused. As a leader, I insist my employees use their time. It is one of the benefits that got them in the door in the first place and they earned it. Everyone needs time to re-charge and should never feel like they will be penalized for doing so.
Find Outlets. Work is not the end all be all and we all need outlets to alleviate stress before, during and after work. Here are some suggestions.
Exercise – set aside 30 minutes a day before during or after work to get some exercise and leave your phone behind.
Walk – if going to the gym is not your thing then go for a walk. 20 – 30 minutes of walking will help you relax and clear your mind.
Meditate – silence is golden, it not only clears the mind and brings focus but meditation reduces stress and lowers blood pressure.
Nap – Americans are sleep deprived and lack of sleep only adds to physical and the emotional stress. A 15 to 30-minute nap will help you feel refreshed, but don’t substitute a good night’s sleep with a nap.
Talk – we all need a confidant, someone that we can talk to when things get tough. This can be a friend or a professional. Having an outlet for how we are feeling is important to our mental and emotional health.
Know Your Limits. You can’t do it all and it is essential that you know your limits. Don’t hold yourself to anyone else’s standards. Just because a co-worker puts in endless hours does not mean that you should. While your boss may send emails at all hours of the day and night does not mean you have to respond. What works for others may not work for you and vice versa. Everyone’s situation is unique and we can’t be all things to all people and this holds true in our careers as well.
Make a Change. Sometimes, despite our best efforts we need to make a change and recognizing when that time has come is important. If your work situation is toxic and no amount of personal change reduces the stress it is probably time to make a change. In no way should you consider this a personal failure, instead, think of it as an opportunity and look for the lesson in the experience. There are many factors that play into job burnout and we only have control over some of them. Do what you can, do your best and know when it is time to move on.
A job or career should be fulfilling and provide a sense of purpose to our lives, not just a paycheck and means to maintain a lifestyle. If it is not doing that we owe it to ourselves, our families, friends and even co-workers to examine why. Being the best person we can be means that everything we do, even our job adds quality to our life and doesn’t take it away.