Over the years, I have had multiple Career Coaching clients who have something dangerous in common – a heart attack, which doctors said was caused by workplace stress.
Most people assume workplace stress is only found in a job you don’t like, but this is not true, as evidenced by these two people. One said they hated their job because it was so stressful, and the other client said they love their job despite its demands.
So what causes all this stress? The American Institute of Stress tells us that 6% of professionals feel stress due to the lack of job security, 20% represent stress while trying to juggle work and personal lives, 28% of people reference stress in relation to coworker/people issues, and 46% of stress is found in the workload.
Let me take a timeout to say that to some degree, stress can help us achieve more than we would if there wasn’t some kind of pressure to get things done. But finding balance is the tricky thing. The big question is this: What can you do to manage all this stress before it puts you in danger?!
The first line of action is to identify what is within your circle of control. I talk about this very thing in my book RINGMASTER: 8 strategies for becoming a star performer in the midst of change. What is within your power to change? Start by making a list of where your stress comes from. Put your stress-drivers in categories and ask yourself what you can influence or change.
The point is to start logging where you spend your time and how that adds stress to your life. Then ask, is there a way to share these duties? Can you delegate some of this work to others? If you have stress around people issues, then maybe you invest in outside help from a career management coach (as a coach, I can say they help you navigate career obstacles and opportunities so that you can reduce workplace stress).
Also find ways to RELIEVE that stress and get time away from it! I have a client who schedules a massage every two weeks just to relieve some of the stress she carries in her shoulders. In order for her to stay at the top of her game, she takes the time to do a little well deserved pampering. Sure, it doesn’t remove the stress completely, but the massage allows her to deal with the physical and mental stress she faces in the workplace. The same can be said for working out, playing catch with your kids, taking walks, yoga, etc.
It all comes down to this: It isn’t healthy to let stress make you feel trapped and helpless. Look for ways to empower yourself. Do things to reduce stress. Then take a proactive approach to making things better – because stress won’t just get better on its own. Sometimes your job is to take care of yourself, because being the victim of stress can be deadly!