Is your job driving you crazy?
Do you calculate the minutes on the job until the weekend and when Sunday approaches, you start dreading the arrival of Monday morning?
For most people, a job is a source of significant stress. Some people go as far as taking medical leave because the pressure on the job affects their work.
Odds are that you have to work, and have to work at your job for a long time. You might be lucky enough to enjoy your job, but most likely, you cannot wait until you have to work no more. No matter what feelings you have about your job, there are steps you can choose to be more productive, less stressed and have more time for yourself. These things will keep you mentally alert, focused and calmer.
What contributes to a nerve-racking job, and how can you make it better?
Americans work very long hours.
We work longer than any other advanced economy. In fact, by mid-October we will have worked as much as almost every other industrialized nation—with 2 months to go! No law in the U.S. dictates minimum vacations, even though there are laws on breaks during the workday. Many countries offer four to six weeks’ leave to start while Americans get two weeks. Some get none at all.
Often, we fail to take a vacation that we have since our society values being on the job more than being on vacation.
- Great expectations
With more companies strapped for cash, management expects workers to do more in the day. In addition, with high unemployment, many employees are afraid to say something. Expectations are becoming impractical. If you will accept that they are unreasonable expectations and resolve to work as hard as you can, you can take a little mental breather and relax.
- Maternity and other types of leave
More than 175 countries worldwide provide a legislated paid maternity leave. The U.S. is one of a small handful of countries that do not. Some offer it as a benefit, mostly large companies as a way to compete for top talent. Unfortunately, many workers cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Without maternity leave available, mothers experience higher stress since they cannot take 3 months off without pay (as allowed by the Family and Medical Leave Act).
We also have minimal sick leave, often combined in a complete leave package. One sick day makes one less holiday.
- The culture of work
Most workplaces are disconnected spaces, with workers worrying about losing jobs in a time of high unemployment. They get little recognition for successes or respect for their efforts.
What can you do, so you do not have to lose your mind at work?
Set realistic goals
Set goals for yourself; be clear with your boss what you can deliver on time. Schedule your workflow in view of that. If deadlines need changing due to unforeseen events, discuss it with your boss. Every so often, there is wiggle room, but you will never know unless you ask.
Establish a routine.
Answer your email only at specific times—once in the morning, once after lunch and once more before leaving. You do not need to answer everything right away. Return calls at fixed times. Yes, things do not always go as planned, but at least you have an idea.
Work stays at work.
Keep clear boundaries between work and home. Technology has pressured people into working all the time. It leaves little time for you. It might be easier to stay at work and then come home, so you are confident you are finished for the day. You may be more productive arrive at work before everyone else and have undisturbed, dedicated time. Off times may also reduce your commute.
Space out vacations or holidays
Take regular breaks from work. Try to add days to long weekends or take time off when business traffic is slow. When on holiday, disconnect from all electronic devices. If you cannot do that, shut off any work-related activities on your smartphones, laptops, and tablets and so on.
Develop a pattern at work to reduce stress
Take a break of at least 15 minutes once every 2 hours. Get up and walk around, leave your office or just get a little fresh air. Exercise at your desk once every hour. Do stretches or high knee lifts or use hand weights to tone your arms and other some easy exercises.
Exercise is best before work because it helps your mind stay calm, gives your body energy, lifts your mood and provides a sense of pride that you accomplished something before work has even started.
Work is a part of modern life. It can be frustrating, but stress is not that matters. What matters is how you deal with it. Taking steps to protect against the damaging forces of stress will pay off in both physical and mental health, while keeping you successful at work.
It will also save you from going crazy.