Stress? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

by Leina Ussin

It’s 6 am and your alarm clock obnoxiously goes off in your ear. It’s a clear indication it’s time for you to wake up and start your day. You lazily reach for whatever device you’ve designated as your alarm, and without a care in the world, you hit snooze.

Snooze, a magnificent button that gives you extra five-ten minutes of sleep. Extra time in your bed before you have to pull yourself together and be an adult and go to work. Work; is it your place of employment, or is it your career of choice? Do you really want to go to work today? Maybe you should call off? Can you afford to call off? Do you have any more sick time?

And as these questions buzz around in your head, your alarm goes off again. More aggressively this time, as if even it knows now you have to get up and officially face the world!

You’re annoyed. In an irritable state of mind, you’re already overthinking your day and who is going to get on your nerves! You’ve made up your mind to do the bare minimum at work, and avoid conversations with everyone. You want the day to fly by so you can be back in your comfy bed, and the pressures of the world gone.

For many Americans, this is our reaction Monday through Friday as we get ready for work. It’s a reaction that’s become so normal, you’ll find many people complain more about their jobs than they do anything else in their lives.

Little pay. Long hours. Overbearing bosses. Uncooperative coworkers. Impossible deadlines.

The list goes on and on about the things that can cause one to be stressed out behind their jobs. Stress that doesn’t just stay at our workplace once we clock out, but follows us into our homes and our social relationships! Stress many can’t seem to shake! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 70% of adults reported stress from their jobs was affecting their personal lives! And once the damage is done there, it’s only a matter of time before your work suffers as well.

Coming in late, assignments not getting done properly, or at all, anti-social behavior, and just not showing up are how employees can end up responding to the stresses they are facing at work. Speak up, you say? Encouraging employees to voice how they feel and what’s bothering them does sound like a reasonable solution, but, many fear the ramifications and it keeps a lot of unhappy employees silent. Many of them dread they’ll lose their job or will be looked at as weak if they can’t handle the simple tasks assigned to them. But these tasks may not always be so simple.

The average American works 40-60 hours a week, and some job titles actually require you to be on call 24 hours a day, giving you barely any time to yourself. No days off and no real-time to enjoy life can cause an overwhelming wave of emotions, which despite popular belief, are starting to backfire on the company, not the employee! When an employee has reached his/her limit, they call off or may request a leave of absence. This can cause a company to lose billions of dollars a year due to lack of production and not being fully staffed.

Losing an employee can cause a ripple effect, which can create stress in another employee who may now feel the strain of this person being gone because they have to pick up the extra slack. Now this company is at risk of losing this person as well, who can cause another person to leave, and so on and so forth. So what’s being done?

Believe it or not, companies are becoming more involved in their employee’s health, mental and physical. On top of issuing out weight loss and healthy eating competitions, companies are having wellness seminars for their employees to be able to address some concerns they may be having. Employee Assistance Programs are also becoming available, allowing one to seek counseling/therapy, through the company, whether it’s work-related or not!

“We always encourage our associates to take time off, either through PTO or unpaid days,” Coty Perossier, a Human Resource Manager for three years, says. “In October, we have a health and wellness fair that runs for five days. We actually have a partnership with the local spa in the area who will come on if we schedule her to offer complimentary 30-minute massages!”

Companies are now doing parties, sponsoring team sports for their employees to participate in, having weekly engagement activities, and hosting recognition/reward ceremonies to let their employees know they are truly appreciated, and their hard work is being noticed. They are realizing companies are their brand ambassadors, and no one is going to be motivated to push your product if they’re not excited to be there. They won’t feel inspired to do their job if they feel disposable.

“No one should be worked to death or give up their lives for a paycheck they can’t enjoy,” says Rain Warren, a Human Resources Regional Recruiter with 6 years of experience in HR. “In my current position, we are in an industry where hard work was always the motto, but shifting into newer generations, work-life balance with more paid time off is now our big way of pushing mental work relief!”

Kayla Goodwin, Assistant Manager of Operations for 3 years, says, “We provide our teams with access to an app that focuses on ways to stay healthy (physically and mentally) as well as other benefits. The app has daily polls and articles on how to decompress, and reminds them of the importance of remaining healthy!”

Now let’s be clear, though it would be nice to blame all our problems on our jobs, there are things we as employees have to take responsibility for as well. Our personal life choices can cause additional stress onto us which we tend to bring to our place of work as well. We must face the things that are causing stress, and properly figure out a healthy way to overcome and deal with them.

At the beginning of this article, I asked a question, “Work; is it your place of employment, or is it your career of choice?”

This is an important question for two reasons. One, your place of employment is somewhere you work, just for the money. You have no desire to grow, nor do you care how well the business is doing. You’re not invested, you’re simply there to get a check!

Your career is something you’re genuinely invested in, something you care about. It’s an ongoing learning experience for you, and you appreciate the stress and the gratifications that come with it.

It’s important to separate these two because how can you ever be happy working somewhere you don’t really care about?

“Get a job that truly interests you and offers what you need,” Rain advises. “Employees need to ask the right questions when they are interviewed to find out if the company fits them.” And she’s absolutely right! That interview is not just for you to prove your worth to a company, but for them to prove themselves to you! Do not sell yourself short and feel like you have to settle. The company will make money with or without you, you have to step back and wonder if this company will benefit you in the long run. “You have to find passion in what you’re doing because if you don’t it’ll make you miserable!”

Which we can all admit is no easy task, doing what you love and getting paid accordingly for it. In fact, in a recent survey I conducted, it revealed 50% of workers admitted their job was a simple paycheck to them; while the other 50% said they actually love their jobs. One woman even admitted she loved her job, just hated her current work location.

“If you’re at the point where you wake up to go to work and you’re angry before you get there, it’s time to truly reevaluate and reassess your career goals,” Coty Perosssier suggests. “We spend more time at work than we do at home with our families; it’s critical that we are truly enjoying the work we are doing.”

Even in the career of your choosing, there will be stress-related problems! Just remember to never take on more than you can handle! It’s ok to ask for help and admit when something is too much for you. Maintain a healthy life outside of work, start a new hobby, or join a group that participates in outdoor activity. Don’t fear being fired for speaking your mind if you’re stressed out at work. And if you happen to get fired for expressing your concerns about your personal health, that’s not a company you want to be working for anyway!

Besides, you don’t want your stress to affect your work, and then the company fires you because they had no clue what was going on. Give them the opportunity to assist you and resolve the problems you’re having. You’ll be surprised how many companies are devoted to making sure their current employees are in good health.

Or, as Kayla so accurately put it, “I am a firm believer that when you invest in your people, they will invest in you.”

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