My last job environment was stressful. Really stressful. The work itself was fine. It was the same work I had been doing for over a year and, for the most part, I genuinely enjoyed it. The stress had less to do with the work itself, and everything to do with the environment created by my employer. Simply put, it was awful. I found myself on the verge of tears most days. Working for someone who was so negative and just down-right mean was affecting every facet of my life and causing my quality of life to decrease. I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit so badly. But, as I’m sure you can understand, I wasn’t in a position to leave my full-time job without an income replacement. Instead, I had to learn to cope. The work environment wasn’t going to change, and my boss wasn’t going to change. Instead, I had to change the way I was dealing with it before it further negatively impacted my life.
I’m sure you can understand this feeling if you’ve been in a stressful work environment. I learned a lot from that experience, so I want to share some tips with you if you’re dealing with a stressful environment at your job.
Eat Well, Sleep Well
This one sounds silly because it’s clearly unrelated to work. But it’s not totally! I’m someone who can get really stressed and crabby when I’m tired, and I know plenty of people who are like that when they are hungry. Dave can attest to the fact that I’m typically not very pleasant to be around when I’m super tired! I’m likely to react much worse to a difficult situation if I’m already tired and not approaching the issue from a rational standpoint.
Make a Friend
Having my best friend working right down the hall from me was literally a life-saver when I was in my previous job. Since she has the same job as me, she understood better than anyone the actual work-related stressors I was facing and was always more than happy to offer advice on those. But more than anything, she offered some amazing emotional support when I had an awful boss, and allowed me an escape from my own office when I really needed one.
It’s not surprising that I have my work email on my phone, as well as my blog and personal emails. I typically don’t address the emails when I’m not actually at work, but it’s nice to be able to see them just in case there’s something that requires more immediate attention. But when I was working for a very difficult boss, nothing ruined my mood faster than seeing a rude and aggressive email from my boss on a Saturday! I finally had to force myself to delete my work email from my phone so I couldn’t let him stress me out on my personal time.
Use Your Personal Time
Those personal days are there for a reason. Sometimes, you just need a mental health day. And that’s okay! If you’ve got personal time at your job, don’t hesitate to take a day to destress and heal yourself. Too many people feel guilty about using their personal time as if they’re not allowed to. Don’t let that be you! This includes lunch hours. I use my lunch hour maybe twice per month. Usually, I sit at my desk and eat while I work. That isn’t an issue now, but it was a much-needed break when I was in a more stressful work environment.
Learn How to Relax
Everyone has different techniques that help them relax. Maybe yours is listening to music. Or working out. Or yoga. Whatever it is. Do it as much as you can!
Know Who to Talk To
If the situation is dire enough, know who else in the organization you can speak to. This might be Human Resources or your supervisor (if they aren’t the root of the problem). This was something I struggled with. Since it’s not a typical structure, there is little HR can do to intervene, and I only had one boss. And he was the problem.
Know Where the Line Is
Ultimately you really need to decide whether this stress is one you can deal with. Maybe your job or your boss is sort of stressful, but you just aren’t handling it well. I’ve been in that situation. The best way to fix the problem is simply to change the way you’re approaching it. But my stressful work environment went far beyond an acceptable amount of stress. A major line had been crossed for how it was acceptable for a boss to treat their employee and the word “abusive” was not an over-exaggeration. Because of that, I knew I needed to leave. So if you’re in a situation with a stressful work environment, decide whether it’s a kind of stress you can (or should have to) deal with, and consider making a more permanent change.
My new job is a totally different environment from my last one. It’s funny because I’m doing virtually the same job at the same organization. Working for a different supervisor has made the world of difference, and I now genuinely enjoy the job I once despised.
If you’re in a stressful work environment, know that I’ve been there, and so many other people have as well. I know it’s hard to see, but you’re not alone! Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you (or me!) for emotional support. I sincerely hope these tips can help you to cope with your stressful work environment.
What do you do to cope with a stressful work environment?
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