Stress Reduction at Work

How do I identify the cause of my stress?

One of the leading causes of workplace stress is a mismatch between the natural talents of the individual and the requirements and expectations of the position. Simply put, the person feels he or she must “be something else” in order to properly perform the job. Consistently going against your natural grain in this manner — especially in the long term — leads to significant stress, tiredness, frustration, lack of productivity, and can even cause more serious emotional distress (such as depression), conflict with coworkers and family, and other personal problems.

How can I reduce my stress level?

If you can identify with the scenario above, it is best to take a step back and rethink your job role. Are the requirements and expectations of your position flexible? Is there a way to rearrange or exchange work tasks for those that better suit your talents? For example, you may be best at doing the research and analysis, then passing your findings on to someone who incorporates that information into a spreadsheet. Or, maybe you are much better at creating the marketing plan, while someone else oversees the actual implementation. Task “bargaining” with colleagues can go a long way in relieving your own stress, and possibly that of fellow employees. Another question to consider is if you can achieve the same results, but by a different method. If you are required to prove the quality of a product, you could do so by showing research-based evidence, rather than building a physical model. Or, if you are expected to gain five new clients each week, you may be more effective by leveraging current relationships for referrals rather than cold calling. The key strategy is to “change up” how you approach your work, and see if that relieves your stress.

When is changing jobs the best option?

If you have tried approaching your work in different ways, and you still feel overwhelmed with stress and frustration, then it is time to move on. Most job roles that are flexible are salvageable; but if you find little to no wiggle room in how your approach your role or no ability to barter tasks with your team, then it is best to search for a job that better suits you and your natural talents. Just be careful not to commit the same error, and take a new job that has the same problems. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. To avoid this trap, it is always helpful to work with a career expert or performance coach to assist in your job search.

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