Stressed Out? It Might Be Your Job
“I’m stressed out.”
If you find yourself thinking–or saying–this to yourself on a regular basis, you might have a real problem on your hands. Job and career related stress has been on the rise in recent years, as occupations become more complex, and workers are taking on more and more responsibility. In fact,workplace stress is now considered an occupational illness. Many employees undergo stress as a normal part of their jobs, but some experience it more severely than others, to the point that they need time away from work.
According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, extreme occupational stress is classified as a “neurotic reaction to stress.” There were more than 3,500 such illness cases reported in 2003. The median absence from work for these cases was 23 days, more than four times the level of all nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses. And more than two-fifths of the cases resulted in 31 or more lost workdays, compared to one-fifth for all injury and illness cases.
Not surprisingly, the level of workplace stress seems to be tied directly to the worker’s occupation. In fact, just four industries accounted for the bulk of occupational stress cases: Services (35 percent), manufacturing (21 percent), retail trade (14 percent), and finance, insurance,and real estate (12 percent).
In general, white-collar occupations had a higher proportion of stress cases than both blue-collar and service occupations combined. Managerial and professional occupations, with 16 percent of the cases, and technical, sales, and administrative support occupations with 48 percent, had the highest proportions of occupational stress cases.
And there appears to be a correlation between stress and a worker’s sex. For each stress-related illness involving a female, two cases involved a male.
If you’re stressed out, you need to look at ways to reduce that stress before it has a negative effect on your health. High levels of stress, over time, can lead to sleeping disorders, high blood pressure, and other physical problems.
If you think your work environment is too stressful, bring the subject up with your boss or employer. See if there isn’t some way of reducing your workload, or taking away a few responsibilities so that you don’t feel overwhelmed on the job. If you feel yourself getting stressed out at work, try relaxing and breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes and see if this doesn’t calm you down.
Away from work, exercise is a great stress reducer. For many people, a brisk walk in the evening is enough to unwind them after a tough day on the job. I’ve found that yoga works wonders for me after a tense work day. After a half an hour doing yoga poses and breathing exercises, I feel refreshed, and I sleep much better at night. Other people relax by playing sports, or socializing with friends,or playing with their kids.
No matter how you relieve stress, just do it. You’ll feel a lot better, both physically and mentally. And if you can’t find a way to manage your stress levels at work, you might need to think about finding another job.