Your job may be 9 to 5, but the stress related to your job stress can last 24/7. In fact, the only situation causing more stress for U.S. adults than their job is financial uncertainty, and that’s usually related to their job, too.
Let’s first measure your own work-week burnout by giving yourself one point for each of the following six signs of job stress that applies to you:
- Depletion of your energy level - from vague fatigue as you start your workday to overwhelming emotional and physical exhaustion at the end of the workday.
- Detachment from your work and/or clients - this may include a cynical attitude while you’re at work, boredom, and a lack of commitment.
- Dissatisfaction with your own job achievements – which may include feelings of inadequacy
- Diminishment of productivity - and the ability to cope with small annoyances and setbacks.
- Disorganization -not only on the job but also at home.
- Distraction - forgetfulness and an increased tendency to drift during meetings, presentations, and conversations.
If you have even one of these “six D’s”, you have some job stress and probably have some chronic physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, insomnia, and backaches. If you gave yourself two or more points, your mental health is probably being affected as well as your physical health - and you are not alone. A recent Kronos Inc. survey found 95 percent of human resource leaders say employee burnout is affecting their workforce and probably accounts for up to half of their employee turnover.
Any guess on what's the most important cause of job burnout?
Is it, not enough money? Too many hours? Too much paperwork? Too little or too much supervision? All of these areas contribute to job stress, but the underlying problem is usually less obvious. It’s feeling unheard. So it’s not the amount of work we have to do that is usually the problem, it’s whether or not we have a say about how or when we do it. It’s not the amount of supervision we get that is usually the problem, it’s whether or not our supervisors are listening to us as much as we listen to them. It’s not just the amount of money we are paid that is usually the problem, it’s whether or not we have opportunities to earn more. If we are not heard and responded to, we lack a sense of control. And when our sense of control goes down, stress goes up!
So how do we increase your sense of control? Here are a few tips.
1. First, if you have any choice at all about it, look for a job that gives you a say in decisions about your work. If not, find ways that you can.
2. Next, remind yourself that the company you are working for is paying you for your skills. Even if you are not being heard, you are at least valued. If you think you are undervalued, check out the marketplace. In the end, you are in business for yourself.
3. Then, give yourself a break. If you have a job, you’re married, have children or taking care of your parents (maybe even both), don’t expect yourself to have a perfect memory - instead, make lists! And don’t expect yourself to run a perfect household, either. Think of an unmade bed as airing out. Buy enough underwear for the family for a month to cut down on laundry time. You have to increase your sense of control rather than sabotaging it with unrealistic expectations.
4. Be aware of not overloading, overscheduling, or over initiating. No matter how much you thrive on deadlines, catching up can still be incredibly difficult.
5. And, finally, gather social support. Colleagues help with strategies, validation, empathy, resources, conflict resolution ideas and, best of all, humor. Friends and family remind you that you have a life beyond the job.
In the end, job stress can be inevitable, but be aware of the signs and symptoms. Make yourself be heard by those who need to hear you because it’s a key antidote to diffusing work-related stress.