Work stress

Most of us spend as much time at the office as we do at home. Although we all want to achieve the perfect ‘work-life balance’, this term can be tricky. If you’re in the right job then it should almost feel like home. Working for months and years at the wrong job, however, can have a serious impact on your health and well-being.

What constitutes the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ job will depend very much on an individual’s skills and career ambitions. Yet there are classic symptoms to watch out for, regardless of industry or level. Fortunately, there are solutions too.

The Symptoms

If you’ve been at the same job for a while, it can be difficult to spot the symptoms of work-related stress creeping up on you. Indeed, you might just have accepted that “this is how your life is” and will mistake genuine feelings of anguish and unhappiness for a typical malaise that “everybody has to deal with”. That might not be the case, particularly if you’re suffering from any of the symptoms below:

  • Basic behavioural symptoms will generally include irritability and aggression, as well as withdrawal from work colleagues. This will often lead to employees developing a ‘bad reputation’ in the office as being difficult to work with. You might also notice behavioural changes outside work. Are you drinking more? Neglecting your health and your friends/family? These are all potential signs of stress.
  • Physiological symptoms can also be a sign and could include anything from prolonged headaches, difficulty sleeping, nausea, and muscle pains.
  • Psychologically, it can be harder to diagnose job-induced stress, as it will depend on the individual. However, if you are starting to view your place of work as a ‘threat’ and find that you develop the above behavioural and physiological symptoms only when (or more aggressively when) at work, it might be time to ask for help.

The Solutions

If you’ve been stuck in the wrong job for a while and have been following the same patterns, it can be tempting to simply wallow in the comfort this familiarity provides. Nobody likes change (indeed, we’re programmed to avoid it), but sometimes a sharp shock to the system is exactly what’s required to kick us out of a career-induced rut. Here are the solutions we recommend on both a short-term and long-term level:

  • The most obvious way to solve the underlying issue is to look for another job or even a complete career shift. However, if you’re a professional with a set of skills that might go underappreciated on generic job sites and industry boards, consider a specialist recruitment partner to help match you to the right role at the right company.
  • Whilst changing jobs might work in the long-term, short-term help could also be required. If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above, don’t hesitate to speak to your superiors. You might be amazed to discover that they not only understand but will probably have suffered from the same issues at some point in their lives.
  • If problems persist, and finding a new job doesn’t look like it’s going to happen soon, you might also want to consider speaking to a doctor. There might also be underlying problems related to anxiety and depression that the workplace problems are exacerbating.
  • Although we might sometimes think of a ‘work-life’ balance as being an antiquated notion, you should still take time off once in a while! Taking a break can help recharge your batteries and give you a fresh perspective on the situation.

Finally, simply acknowledging that there’s a problem can be a monumental weight off your shoulders. By being transparent with your fellow workers, you’ll also hopefully engender respect and acceptance. This could go some small way towards helping you solve your workplace stress problem, and giving yourself the space to move on to something better and something more ‘you’.