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  Issues @ Work

Stressors At Work
by Bee Epstein, Career Specialist     (Updated : April 08, 2009)

Stress is a condition of modern life. Even if you live a healthy lifestyle and can deal with most stressful job situations, you will still have periods of frustration and stress. Listed below are specific workday situations that are among the top causes of stress for men and women.

Too Much to Do and Not Enough Time: Very few people spend enough time planning and scheduling. Proper planning eliminates many time wasters. Planning projects, scheduling your week and detailed planning of each day will give you control of your time at work. Another excellent technique is to make a list of all your projects and tasks and ask your supervisor to help you plan and set priorities. Often supervisors are unaware of how much you have to do.

Deadlines: Once again, planning and scheduling will help you track your work flow. When you have a long-range overview written down in a planner or calendar, you can schedule your work at a comfortable pace and thus avoid surprise deadlines. When you have last minute requests with deadlines from your boss, let her know what is already on your agenda and ask her to help you rearrange your schedule. Let your boss have ultimate responsibility for setting priorities and seeing that deadlines are met.

Interpersonal Conflicts: Conflicts arise out of differences in opinions, needs, values and expectations. Stress occurs because each person involved in the conflict wants things her way, and someone wants to keep her from getting what she wants. We usually think that if one person wins an argument, the other loses. This does not have to be the case. You can reduce the stress of conflict by looking for areas of agreement first. Focus on the task to be accomplished rather than the egos involved. Remember you want to solve a problem. It's not necessary to prove someone else wrong to do this.

Too Much Responsibility Without Authority: It is a good idea to ask for enough authority to carry out your responsibilities in a professional way. When you cannot get that authority, document what you have accomplished and send that memo to your boss. Your memo should include what you need to complete the project. This way you have covered yourself and have let your boss know that you require authority to match your responsibilities.

Speak Before a Group or Being in the Spotlight:Part of this stressor is fear of making a public mistake and looking foolish. Complete knowledge of your subject matter will give you some confidence. To hone your presentation skills, enroll in a good course on public speaking. That will give you more confidence. Practice speaking before non-threatening groups to reduce your stress.

Wage Inequality and Discrimination: Know your rights under the law. Some of the most stressful discrimination exists in subtle ways and can't be quantified. Know your worth and your rights. Ask for the treatment and the money you deserve, but don't be too sensitive and don't overdo it.

When you need to overcome stress, try the following after work:

  • Surround yourself with people who nourish you, especially those with empathy and a sense of humor.

  • Put plants or flowers on your desk. Plants are wonderful, but fresh flowers are special.

  • Make a list of good things in your life.
  • Read something inspirational.
  • Go for prayers or meditate.
  • Have a non-business lunch with a friend.
  • Have refreshments in an outdoor café.
  • Sit by the window.
  • Go to the park.
  • Go to a movie or concert.
  • Buy yourself a gift or reward, and tell yourself you deserve it.
  • Pamper yourself with a beauty salon, have a hairdo, facial, manicure etc.
  • Watch a baby play.

An attitude of gratefulness and goodwill toward others eliminates hostility, resentment, jealousy, anger, depression and many of the other negative feelings that influence the behaviour of a person under stress. Peace of mind comes from being at peace with others and the environment.

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