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Job stress comes in different
forms and affects your mind and body in different ways. Small things can make
you feel stressed, such as a copy machine that never seems to work when you
need it or phones that won't quit ringing. Major stress comes from having too
much or not enough work or doing work that doesn't satisfy you. Conflicts with
your boss, coworkers, or customers are other major causes of stress.
It's normal to have some stress. Stress releases hormones that speed up
your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. Stress can
be useful when you need to focus on or finish a big project. But too much
stress or being under stress for too long isn't good for you. Constant stress
can make you more likely to get sick more often. It can make chronic pain worse and can also lead to long-term
health problems such as
high blood pressure, back problems, and
Look for these signs of job
Most of the time, it's the
major sources of stress that lead to job burnout and health problems. Job
stress can affect your home life too. Here are some common sources of major job
stress, with examples of each:
You can reduce some job
stress by learning how to manage your time and your job duties. Think about the
kinds of events that trigger stress for you at work. Then you can focus on one
or two things you can do that will help the most to reduce stress. Here are
For more information, see:
identify what's creating stress at work. Maybe it's lack
of control over your job. Or maybe it's worry about losing your job or how you
are doing at work. You might feel stress because you're unable to express your
thoughts and ideas to your boss and coworkers.
why you want to reduce stress at work. You might want to
protect your heart and your health by reducing stress. Or maybe you simply want
to enjoy your life more and not let work stress control how you feel. Your
reason for wanting to change is important. If your reason comes from you—and
not someone else—it will be easier for you to make a healthy change for good.
Next, set a goal for yourself that
involves reducing your stress level. Think about both a long-term and a
Here are a few examples:
After setting your goals, think about what might get in your way. Use a
personal action planpersonal action plan(What is a PDF document?) to write down your goals, the
possible barriers, and your ideas for getting past them. By thinking about
these barriers now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they
Most important, make sure you get support from friends and family in your efforts to reduce job stress. If
your company has an employee assistance program, you might use it to talk with
a counselor. A counselor can help you set goals and provide support in dealing
If you are truly miserable because
of a stressful job, it may be time to think about changing jobs. Make sure you
know whether it is you or the job that's the problem.
quit, spend time thinking about other job options. Not having a job will
probably also lead to stress. Getting another job before you quit is best, but
sometimes that isn't possible. Decide what is less stressful for
you—unemployment or being miserable in your current job. It might help to talk
with a counselor about your choices.
Other Works Consulted
Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Coping with and managing stress. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 307–340. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Johnson DC, et al. (2008). Posttraumatic stress
disorder and acute stress disorder. In MH Ebert et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Psychiatry, 2nd ed., pp. 366–377.
New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of:
May 3, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Steven Locke, MD - Psychiatry
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