Job stress comes in different forms and affects your mind and body in different ways. Small things can make you feel stressed, such as a copy machine that never seems to work when you need it or phones that won't quit ringing. Major stress comes from having too much or not enough work or doing work that doesn't satisfy you. Conflicts with your boss, coworkers, or customers are other major causes of stress.
It's normal to have some stress. Stress releases hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. Stress can be useful when you need to focus on or finish a big project. But too much stress or being under stress for too long isn't good for you. Constant stress can make you more likely to get sick more often. It can make chronic pain worse and can also lead to long-term health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, back problems, and depression.
Look for these signs of job stress:
Most of the time, it's the major sources of stress that lead to job burnout and health problems. Job stress can affect your home life too. Here are some common sources of major job stress, with examples of each:
You can reduce some job stress by learning how to manage your time and your job duties. Think about the kinds of events that trigger stress for you at work. Then you can focus on one or two things you can do that will help the most to reduce stress. Here are some ideas:
You and your boss
For more information, see:
You and your job
For more information, see:
Take care of yourself
First, identify what's creating stress at work. Maybe it's lack of control over your job. Or maybe it's worry about losing your job or how you are doing at work. You might feel stress because you're unable to express your thoughts and ideas to your boss and coworkers.
Think about why you want to reduce stress at work. You might want to protect your heart and your health by reducing stress. Or maybe you simply want to enjoy your life more and not let work stress control how you feel. Your reason for wanting to change is important. If your reason comes from you—and not someone else—it will be easier for you to make a healthy change for good.
Next, set a goal for yourself that involves reducing your stress level. Think about both a long-term and a short-term goal.
Here are a few examples:
After setting your goals, think about what might get in your way. Use a personal action plan to write down your goals, the possible barriers, and your ideas for getting past them. By thinking about these barriers now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.
Most important, make sure you get support from friends and family in your efforts to reduce job stress. If your company has an employee assistance program, you might use it to talk with a counselor. A counselor can help you set goals and provide support in dealing with setbacks.
If you are truly miserable because of a stressful job, it may be time to think about changing jobs. Make sure you know whether it is you or the job that's the problem.
Before you quit, spend time thinking about other job options. Not having a job will probably also lead to stress. Getting another job before you quit is best, but sometimes that isn't possible. Decide what is less stressful for you—unemployment or being miserable in your current job. It might help to talk with a counselor about your choices.
Other Works Consulted
- Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Coping with and managing stress. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 307–340. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Johnson DC, et al. (2008). Posttraumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder. In MH Ebert et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Psychiatry, 2nd ed., pp. 366–377. New York: McGraw-Hill.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.