Don’t Let Job Stress Be the Death of You!
Uncover your Passions, Define your Purpose, and
Create the Work You Really Love!
“The obsession with worker productivity has squeezed the life from our souls”
If you have been downsized or are unemployed and trying to find a new job, there is plenty of stress in your life right now. Or if you are overly tired out, frustrated, or angry when you return home from work, you aren’t alone. If you dread going to work on Monday morning, you aren’t alone. And if you have trouble “keeping up” or not comfortable completing your task at work, you aren’t alone. In fact polls show that about 70% of Americans don’t like their job, and about 50% of those are actively looking for some other work.
What’s wrong with this picture are a couple of things:
- · Job stress can kill you (really)
- · Life was meant to be joyful (I heard this directly from You Know Who! Right . . . Santa.)
First, a definition and some facts.
What Is Job Stress?
“Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.” – World Health Organization
[The article and information below has been adapted in part from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH publication number 99-101 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
Job stress results when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker and largely results when the job does not fit the employee or the employee is not capable or interested in performing the work. Additional factors causing job stress are when the environmental conditions are unhealthy (physically or emotionally,) and a poor or dysfunctional relationship exists between the employee and the boss. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury, and extend outward to influence family, money, and social relationships. Work stress can also lead to the overuse or abuse of substances in order to self-medicate (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, food, etc) from the feelings of stress.
A story to illustrate:
The longer he waited, the more David worried. For weeks he had been plagued by aching muscles, loss of appetite, restless sleep, and a complete sense of exhaustion. At first he tried to ignore these problems, but eventually he became so short-tempered and irritable that his wife insisted he get a checkup. Now, sitting in the doctor’s office and wondering what the verdict would be, he didn’t even notice when Theresa took the seat beside him. They had been good friends when she worked in the front office at the plant, but he hadn’t seen her since she left three years ago to take a job as a customer service representative.
Her gentle poke in the ribs brought him around, and within minutes they were talking and gossiping as if she had never left. “You got out just in time,” he told her. “Since the reorganization, nobody feels safe. It used to be that as long as you did your work, you had a job. That’s not for sure anymore. They expect the same production rates even though two guys are now doing the work of three. We’re so backed up I’m working twelve-hour shifts six days a week. I swear I hear those machines humming in my sleep. Guys are calling in sick just to get a break. Morale is so bad they’re talking about bringing in some consultants to figure out a better way to get the job done.”
“Well, I really miss you guys,” she said. “I’m afraid I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. In my new job, the computer routes the calls and they never stop. I even have to schedule my bathroom breaks. All I hear the whole day are complaints from unhappy customers. I try to be helpful and sympathetic, but I can’t promise anything without getting my boss’s approval. Most of the time I’m caught between what the customer wants and company policy. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to keep happy. The other reps are so uptight and tense they don’t even talk to one another. We all go to our own little cubicles and stay there until quitting time. To make matters worse, my mother’s health is deteriorating. If only I could use some of my sick time to look after her. No wonder I’m in here with migraine headaches and high blood pressure. A lot of the reps are seeing the employee assistance counselor and taking stress management classes, which seems to help. But sooner or later, someone will have to make some changes in the way the place is run.”
For David and Theresa, job demands cannot be met, relaxation has turned to exhaustion, and a sense of satisfaction has turned into feelings of stress. In short, the stage is set for illness, injury, and job failure. David’s and Theresa’s stories are unfortunate but not unusual. Job stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workplace, leaving few workers untouched.
And below are a few more points to consider. [This information was adapted from an article in the Huffington Post on 8/6/2012.]
- Bad managers are the culprits behind enormous health costs and can be a ‘major source of misery’ for many employees, according to psychologist and leadership consultant Robert Hogan, who presented research at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference.
- Seventy-five percent of working adults say the worst aspect of their job — the most stressful aspect of their job — is their immediate boss,” said Hogan, USA Today reports.
- Workplace stress isn’t just hurting employees. The World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American businesses $300 billion per year due to rising insurance and health care costs, according to Forbes.
And consider this from WebMD:
- Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress — a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
What do Workers Say About Job Stress?
OK, so who’s at fault?
Obviously there are great organizations that know how to create a highly productive environment while fully engaging employees and making work . . . well, fun! The 100 best organizations to work for are identified every year, and individuals scramble to get jobs in those companies. But then the flip side of the coin isn’t so pretty.
While it isn’t fair to blame all stress on external conditions such as the environment, the boss, or the organization, the truth is that it is tough to not let these external situations result in job stress. So, what or who is ultimately responsible for your job stress? Here’s the tough news: you are. Sorry to have to break that to you; we each are fully responsible for our lives. But know that this is also true: you aren’t to blame! (More on this in my e-workbooks, coaching, and training materials.)
For years, even decades, the predominant focus of work has been to generally do something you like so you can “earn a living.” Said another way~ trade the time of your life for money. Basically, the purpose of work was to get or have an income to pay for expenses and a bit of fun on the weekend.
We are and have been at the effect of our work culture, and unknowingly have bought into a bunch of norms and beliefs we just assumed were true. We have been trained and conditioned by parents and society, and have what we have: a singular money focus resulting in job stress for a lot of folks. For example, my parents lived through the Depression and believed that happiness, success, and safety in the world were a matter of how much money was in your bank account. I was highly encouraged to get a job as an Engineer or Surgeon because they made the most money. The problem was that I had no aptitude or interest in either of those. And neither was I capable of doing or making money from!
There is nothing wrong with making a great salary and having wealth to support one’s lifestyle; but if this is the only focus one pursues, trouble is sometimes the result. Millionaires aren’t necessarily happy people, and some rely on substances or develop addictions. Some find themselves so out of sync with themselves that suicide becomes something they consider. And for those struggling to make ends meet, typical job search methods do not support individuals finding rewarding and well paying work that is aligned with their true or authentic self. So many wind up in the wrong job, do not like it, feel stressed, and think the answer is to stick it out or try and find another job that results in a way like Theresa in the story above~ jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
What can be done about Job Stress?
Unfortunately, the challenge for the individual worker is that not much can be done about alleviating stress on the job. Complaining about the boss can get you in real trouble; requests for changes often go unanswered; and in one case I know about, an employee who was asked to take part on a committee to discuss low morale in the workplace ended abruptly with the employee being fired when he shared his thoughts! (This happened to a hard working employee with a positive service record of over 30 years for whom I provided Career Coaching to find work he really loved in a different organization.)
The all too common problem of workplace stress begins when the employee is not clear about his or her personal skills, passions, values, purpose, calling or desired vision for the kind of work that aligns with his or her personal traits. And generally, society has yet to adequately teach self-responsibility, how to create and manifest what is desired, and the personal and systemic value of seeing work as a contribution to others.
Fortunately, the emerging view today seems to be moving beyond just chasing money and job security, and teach this: “with a little awareness and retraining, you can step out of the job stress rut and into the world of loving your work!” I call this way the Inner to Outer method of discovering your unique soul purpose, and learning the strategies to successfully manifest your heart’s desire in order to love your work-today!
More and more people are discovering their inner truth, what we Career & Life Coaches call Life Purpose, or even Soul Purpose. We encourage our clients to first focus on their inner world of passions and dreams, strengths and purpose, in order to manifest their heart-felt desires into the outer world of reality. Some listen for and hear a “calling” to use their gifts and strengths to serve a need, and find great joy in making a difference in life. (I am always stunned and inspired when I hear stories of those who volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and the difference they are making in the lives of families living in third world countries.) And amazingly, or maybe not so, these folk have very little negative stress because they are busily engaged in expressing a higher purpose, contributing to others, and loving what they do!
If you are experiencing a lot or a little job stress in your life, or sense that you are not in the “right” job and want to regain your health, thrive rather than complain, enjoy life and love your work, I urge you to learn my Inner to Outer method to achieve work happiness. There are currently two options to take advantage of this imited time offer.
- First, between now and Dec 31st of 2013 you can receive a *free* 50 minute coaching call with me to learn about my services and how they fit with your specific needs. To do this, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “free coaching offer” in the subject line and include a telephone number where I can best reach you.
- Second, please tune in to my *free* webinar to be held on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm Eastern. On this webinar I will describe my unique Five Step Process to turn job stress into living your life’s dream, or what your soul is calling forth from you “behind the screen of physical reality.” To receive an invitation to join the call, please sign up to receive my monthly newsletter at my website: http://www.loveyourworktoday.com.
Friends, it would be my honor to serve you, work with you, and assist you in creating work you really love. Work without job stress (well, maybe just a wee tiny bit), but which energizes you, inspires you, and is so satisfying that you forget time exists. The value of my helping you create joy in your work is this: in addition to personally loving this coaching work, your newly inspired contribution to the world will benefit all of us. And we can surely use that.