43% of Americans feel that their job or work is the greatest source of stress in their lives. Recent research links workplace stress to four key factors:
- High demand – having too much to do in too short a time
- Low control – having too little influence on the way that work is carried out
- High effort – the emotional or psychological demands of the job
- Low reward – receiving inadequate recognition for a job well done
The good and bad sides of stress
It’s normal to expect a certain amount of stress in your life. In fact, stress can be good for you. In small doses, stress can generate the energy and motivation you need to meet the daily challenges at work and at home. When you handle a challenge successfully, the brief but intense brush with stress generates an adrenalin rush that can leave you feeling happy and satisfied.
Health problems tend to develop only if excessive stress becomes chronic. When worry or tension continues for a length of time, the prolonged exposure to high levels of stress hormones can cause permanent damage to your body. Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, depression, immune disorders, diabetes and is a contributing factor to many other health conditions.
Maintain a positive attitude
In many workplace situations, the factors that contribute to job stress can’t be changed or may take a long time to improve. When stress is unavoidable, it’s essential to maintain a good mental attitude. Instead of dreading your workday, take a step back and try changing your perspective a little – you may surprise yourself by discovering a new passion for your work:
Chart success differently
If you’re driving hard towards a specific goal, you may have forgotten to enjoy the journey along the way. Take time to appreciate the progress you’re making, instead of focusing exclusively on your final destination. Each morning, review the successes of the previous day (no matter how small!). Look for the positive – it’s a great way to start your day.
Change your patterns
Take a different route to work, try a new restaurant, talk with a colleague about something other than work. When you make small changes in your daily routines, you’ll find that your outlook on life improves dramatically. Those little adjustments really do make a difference!
Reset your goals
Stress can be just as easily caused by frustration and boredom, as by overwork. Maybe you’ve achieved many of your work goals and you’ve hit a plateau. Or maybe you’re just coasting at work, instead of challenging yourself. Now’s the time to start fresh. Come up with some new ideas and new goals that you want to accomplish – your enthusiasm will pick up when you start to see new opportunities on the horizon.
Face your fears
Are you putting up with the status quo because you’re afraid to make a change? Are you refusing to take a risk because you don’t want to face criticism, disapproval or failure? Think about the issues that are holding you back and decide if your fears are realistic. Then take the plunge! A calculated risk may be just the thing to get rid of your restlessness and improve your job satisfaction.
Concentrate on your strengths
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Try to pursue tasks that suit your talents and focus on opportunities where your weaknesses won’t matter. Doing work you enjoy is one of the best ways to build your self-confidence and achieve a happy, healthy life.
Strive for excellence
Don’t fritter away your time doing work that doesn’t help you achieve your goals. Focus on the right things and you’ll find your job satisfaction will improve and your stress levels will drop. When you tackle a new task, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of the job?
- What are the measures of success?
- What are the priorities and deadlines?
- What resources are available?
- What costs are acceptable?
- How does this task relate to my personal work goals and the goals of my organization?
- How can I perform my best in completing this task?
Take a vacation
Absence makes the heart grow fonder! Give yourself a well-deserved break to recharge your batteries. Some time away from work will let you return refreshed and re-energized. You won’t do anyone any good if you’re constantly running on empty