Over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of people I’ve met have some form of mental health issue, the most common appears to be anxiety. Some might say that this is just because our generation is so “over sensitive” or that ever infuriating term “a snowflake”. Everyone, I’m sure, has their theory on why anxiety and depression are on the up and I am going to look at some of those over the next few months. Today we are looking at how stress can be a factor, most specifically job stress.
Everyone has stress in their lives, very few could claim otherwise. Before we take a closer look, take this moment to remember that just because you don’t see how someone else could be stressed/unhappy, doesn’t mean they aren’t. They can be wealthy or poor, they may look like they have a perfect life or a great job; they can still get stressed and it can still escalate. Try to avoid assumptions.
Right, back on topic. Stress can come from any aspect of your life, it could be job stress, or family, financial or social, or medical/health. It’s pretty hard to give a detailed look at each of these without making an overwhelming post that no one wants to read but let’s have a quick look, with perhaps examples.
Work / Job Stress
Everyone has job stress at one point or another, it’s fairly natural and can motivate us to get things sorted. Knowing when it’s getting beyond stress is hard to judge and many don’t realise until it’s too late. There are many factors that can lead to job stress, co-workers or superiors – a poor relationship can make it difficult to feel supported or that you can ask for help, perhaps your co-worker does nothing (or it feels that way) and leaves you feeling like you have to stay late etc to keep up? If you don’t get along with a co-worker this can lead to work stress for both of you, and those who have to work with you. Perhaps you’re caught between two others and their infighting.
If your issue is with other team members then looking for ways to improve that can help a lot, speak to another co-worker to get support, go to your boss and if they are the issue, consider going above them. Not an option? Then perhaps reconsider how much you want to stay there, it’s hard to find new work and you may have to change what you’re doing to get out but it’s often worth it in the long run. Poor mental health can affect many areas of your life so changing something to help it is always worth it.
If it’s not another person, perhaps its a lack of staff or excessive workload. With the workload, talk to someone, get help to reorganise your schedule and ask for additional support, most bosses would rather get you help than lose staff to sick leave. Again if that support isn’t there, reconsider your options. If it’s understaffing, can that be rectified? If not is there any way to rejig the workload between the staff there is? If you’re the boss, what can you do to improve the situation? Avoid asking for assistance from anyone who can only give you negative answers and from those who suffer from what I like to call the “yeah, buts”. As annoying as an over-optimistic person can be, they are full of ideas and willing to try, that attitude can go a long way to finding solutions for your work issues. We need to work to pay for, well, everything almost lol, but it shouldn’t rule your life.
Remember to maintain a healthy work/life balance – where possible, leave your work at work. (If you work from a dedicated space, and perhaps even an outfit so that when you leave that space/change clothes, your mind shifts from work, to home).
Whatever the reason behind your stress, knowing the signs can really help you tackle it early on, according to helpguide.org there are some easy to spot signs, such as irritability (at work or home), anxiousness, headaches, sleep problems and/or feeling exhausted, you might find yourself withdrawing socially or drinking more. The more stressed you get, the harder it is to concentrate and the more you feel you’re not doing a good enough job or that’s you’re overwhelmed. Now is the time to reach out and ask for help.
If you think this sounds familiar there are quizzes and tests you can do to see, I’ve picked a few just by looking for stress tests, these were the first 4 in the results. These are not 100% accurate and as far as I can not tell, are not medically endorsed.
- Cigna Care Stress Care Test – this is short but very familiar for those who’ve seen mental health questionnaires. I’m not sure its long enough to give a valid and accurate answer, but they do offer support in reducing that stress. They sell health insurance I believe so there will be ads in your email with this one.
- NHS Mood Self-assessment – this is my preferred one for obvious reasons.
- Stress Management Society – this is fairly detailed with it’s responses, it gives you a break down of the importance of each point, etc however the images don’t work and although they give the impression that you don’t have to agree to marketing emails, you can’t see the result until you do.
- Psycom – they’re questions are not great, most people can say sometimes to at least half the questions in my opinion, I could be wrong, also not 3 minutes long.
So you’re stressed, where can you get help?
This is a tough one, as what you have access to depends entirely on your area/country, the medical provisions available to you and unfortunately your budget. In some areas of the UK, there are self-referral options, especially if you feel you’re slipping beyond stressed into longer-term issues, however, the waiting lists are long. So first up, here are a few tips to help you feel a little less stressed, if these don’t help consider talking to your GP or someone you trust.
A. Exercise – Let’s get the annoying one out of the way first, no one wants to hear it but it does help, even if it’s just walking. If you can get out of work on lunch breaks then do, go for a walk, meet a friend.
B. Change your outlook – when you find yourself saying you can’t, stop, your brain believes you when you say these things, it’s gullible that way. Change how you word it and take back control. Instead of I can’t do this, it’s too hard, perhaps tell yourself that you need a little assistance and you’re going to ask for it. Turn a negative into a motivator, it’s not I hate my job, it’s more, I think it’s time to move on.
C. Talk – talk to a co-worker/friend/family member or even occupational health if your workplace has it. – but don’t rant or bitch – that will backfire. Tell them you’re struggling and you need help. Acknowledging the issue and allowing others to assist takes a huge weight off.
D. takes time out, book a day off, spend it with friends, and reconnect with your family. Holiday time/family/social time, they’re invaluable. Even introverts need human contact now and then, (despite what the media tell you – they do actually want to socialise, it’s just exhausting) even if we don’t realise it.
E. Look at how you handle it – can you change behaviours? That glass in the evening might seem to help, but if you end up drinking the whole bottle and then feel extra tired the next day, you’ve solved nothing. What can you do, to counter the stressful feelings, that won’t sabotage you in the long run?
My favourite one on the NHS Reduce Stress Tips is this:
So very true, and remember to go home, working late every day is not the answer, starting early all the time isn’t either. Manage your time and when it’s time to go home, do just that. We get nagged at 5pm to go home, they need us ready for a new day, not stressed and overworked. It’s an important attitude to have and if you’re an employer who expects their staff to work very long hours and you’re keeping them from their family/social life – be prepared to sign a lot of staff off sick, you should want to take care of your staff; happy, healthy staff are loyal staff.
Oh and one more thing…
Snowflakes are beautiful, complex, unique, and in large numbers incredibly dangerous.