Job Stress Survival: 5 Ways To Feel Better
Whether dealing with a demanding boss or a constantly buzzing BlackBerry, most people are familiar with on-the-job stressors. But how stressful is your job, really? Some jobs are worse than others, according to a recent Payscale.com survey. And, there are ways to manage that stress.
PayScale's study found that there are two qualities that the most stressful jobs have in common: managing others and being available 24/7. Al Lee, director of qualitative data at PayScale, points out that lower stress jobs may have stressful elements, like irate customers or computer glitches, but ultimately those employees can clock out at the end of the day. Not so for managers. They shoulder more responsibility even when they're off the clock.
What is the most surprising finding in PayScale's work stress study? Lee didn't expect stress levels to be so high across nearly all jobs and industries. "There is no job where people say 'my job is little or no stress,'" he says, referring to a PayScale's survey language for least stressful jobs.
With that all that stress prevalence in mind, we talked to workplace experts for tips on managing stress on the job.
1. Unplug when you can.
While it may be tempting to check work email throughout the weekend, don't. Disconnecting from technology, even if only for a few hours, allows you to fully relax and recharge. "People are not machines, so you need some time to yourself," says Peter Handal, chairman and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training. In fact, separating your work and personal life is one of Dale Carnegie's principles. Communicate with your co-workers about when and how they can reach you during off-hours to set reasonable expectations.
2. Take a vacation.
Expedia.com's 2009 vacation deprivation survey found that a third of employed American adults did not take all their vacation time each year. But skipping vacation can contribute to burnout, which is why Beverly Beuermann-King, a stress and wellness specialist who works with employers to show employees how to manage stress, encourages people to begin planning a vacation at the beginning of the year. Planning well in advance prevents the calendar from filling up and gives you something to look forward to, which can be almost as much fun as the actual vacation. While you're away, Handal suggests checking in once or twice a day so that the emails don't pile up and enjoying the rest of the time guilt-free.
3. Learn to delegate.
For managers, delegating some of the workload can free them up to focus on important tasks. "By definition, no manager can do it all herself," says Handal. Still, he admits that delegation can cause some stress, especially if you're a perfectionist or a micromanager. "You can't just delegate and abdicate," he adds. "There is a certain level of stress in the monitoring of things, but no manager can get the work done if they don't delegate."
4. Avoid eating at your desk.
In many workplaces, scarfing down a sandwich in your cubicle is the norm, a way for employees to show just how busy they are. But eating lunch at your desk isn't the healthiest option, both in terms of hygiene and emotional well-being. Beuermann-King suggests breaking up your workday by eating lunch in a park or socializing with co-workers. "There needs to be a chunk of time where you let your mind off the task you were working on so you come back with more energy," she says.
5. Seek out support.
Still feeling overwhelmed? Nowadays many companies offer wellness programs such as in-office yoga, mental health counseling or discounted gym memberships, so Beuermann-King recommends tapping into those support systems. If outside responsibilities, like kids or caregiving, are adding stress to your workday, there may be other resources to help. "Talking to people around you can help you realize that you're not the only person feeling stress or dealing with personal issues," she adds. "Start talking about strategies: What works for them?"
Workplace Stress: How Does Your Job Stack Up?
Payscale.com surveyed employees on stress levels to see which positions were most stressful. Here are the highlights of what the survey revealed. Sadly, there weren't many low stress, high paying jobs to speak of.
5 Higher Stress, Higher Paying Jobs
Elementary School Principal
Plant Manager, Manufacturing
Regional Retail Sales Manager
Nursing Home Director
5 Lower Stress, Lower Paying Jobs
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