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Stressed at Work? You’re Not Alone

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More

Feeling stressed at work is certainly nothing new. We all know someone who is pulling his or her hair out in the cubicle – heck, it might even be us. But did you know that over 8 out of 10 people are stressed at work?

That’s right – according to a 2013 Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive and Everest College, a whopping 83% of employees report that they are seriously stressed out at work. Yikes!

This is interesting considering that the job market has improved somewhat over the last few years, so you’d think that people would be happy simply to be employed. But apparently a steady paycheck isn’t enough to guarantee happiness. In fact, the increase in employment opportunities may have caused some folks to take jobs they didn’t really want because they felt it was better than being unemployed. But taking a less-than-desirable position can have its price.

What are your most common stress triggers on the job? According to the survey, the top triggers were unreasonable workloads, meager pay, long commutes and irritating co-workers. Other stressors included limited opportunities for advancement, fear of losing one’s job, inability to find a work/life balance, and working in a position that is not one’s career interest or choice.

It’s not as if workers didn’t feel this way a year ago – in the 2012 Work Stress Survey, 73% of respondents said they were stressed at work. But a 10% jump in just one year is significant. These findings are consistent with results of a similar survey by the American Psychological Association, which found that most Americans considered work a primary source of stress and felt that the stress hindered their productivity.

It’s time for us to take a closer look at our “occupational wellness” and decide whether our jobs are really worth the emotional and physical toll they take on us. I completely understand that sometimes it doesn’t feel like we have a choice, especially when others are counting on us to pay the bills and provide for them.

But if you feel you can’t leave your job even though you are severely stressed out by it, perhaps you can make some adjustments either to work circumstances you can control or to your own responses to workplace stress. For instance, can you take a walk over lunch as a way to get some exercise and clear your head? Can you take the lead on a more challenging project that interests you and delegate a less interesting project to someone who will enjoy it more?

On the other hand, you may not feel like there is a solution to your current work predicament. In that case, is there a way to determine what you truly want to do and then take small but methodical steps toward doing that? I think so. I think if we spend just a few hours a week coming up with a plan – whether it includes training for a new career or starting our own business – and if we map out a structured course of action, we can eventually do what we love, and love what we do. Do you agree?

Keep Reading By Author Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
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