Feeling Stressed Out?

By Joe Stein

It is hard to define work/life balance or stress.  This feeling is really based on the individual and how the person handles it.  Different situations result in varying levels of stress depending on the person. 

Jobs at every level have some form of stress, but if you would like to minimize stress, there are some positions that generally have less than others.  CareerCast has actually issued a report of the positions that have the least amount of stress.  Of course, any list such as this will naturally be controversial; as most people believe that their job has the highest stress. Among the jobs on their list of those that have the lowest stress includes positions such as hair stylist, librarian, dietician, jeweler, and tenured college professors.  The positions that tend to have the most stress are fairly predictable, as they tend to reflect some level of danger, such as the military, firefighter, taxi driver, or police officer.

You can always try to change careers completely for less stress, but that may be difficult to do depending on the education and training required.   For example, you can’t just decide today that you want to be a tenured college professor.  So, if a complete career change is not possible, there may be some other avenues to pursue in order to try to reduce your stress.

• Talk to Your Current Employer – A person can always have a conversation with their current employer regarding their present stress level.  There is, however, some risk to this conversation, as you don’t want your current employer to question your commitment or aspirations for bringing the subject up.  You need to have a high level of trust for your Manager and a well thought out conversation in place prior to raising the subject.  A key to making this work is to focus on something specific that you think your employer can provide you assistance with.  For example, if your travel schedule has become too much, then you can use this as a discussion item.  In this situation, be prepared to present a solution on how you will provide the required support without impacting the business.

• Adjust On Your Own – In this situation, you make the necessary stress adjustments yourself, without consulting others.  This can’t really be done about the job itself (for example, a police officer has certain responsibilities that can’t be adjusted).  However, in some situations, a person may be able to adjust items, such as their schedule, to reduce stress.  This is, however, really tough to do when someone has already been in a role for a while.  Co-workers and others get used to a certain level of commitment that is difficult to adjust at a later time.  It is often easier to establish the expectations when joining a new company or entering a new role.  Something to think about when starting a new job: you want to make a great first impression, but at the same point not create unreasonable expectations going forward.

• Find a New Job – Another alternative is to find a new job; one that will have less stress or a better work-life balance for you.  A key to starting a job search for balance is to determine what is really causing you the stress.  If it is something related specifically to the company, schedule, or work pace, you may have an opportunity to improve your situation with a new job.  As a job seeker, you then have to evaluate open positions with prospective employers regarding stress level.  This can be quite a challenging endeavor, as too many questions may scare off Hiring Managers.  If you want to leave your current role because of stress, then you have to decide what is going to be your official reason for living.  Unless you are completely changing your line of work, I do not recommend you make stress your sole reason for wanting to leave.  A Hiring Manager may just draw the conclusion that you will be stressed out for them, also.  Regardless of how unbearable you think your current situation is, it is rarely a good move to leave your current job without another one. 

• Accept Your Situation – You may also find that stress is actually reduced once you accept the situation.  If the time does not feel right to approach your current employer or to leave, then it may be a relief to “stick it out” for awhile.  This conclusion may not reduce your workload or schedule, or improve your perspective of the company, but it actually may help your stress level.  This is, of course, an employer’s nightmare - they have disengaged a good employee.  Probably not a good long-term solution for either you or your employer.

There is very little that impacts how a person feels about their current job as much as the stress level.  If a person feels that their stress level is too high, they have a number of options, such as sticking it out, talking to their Manager, adjusting work life on your own, or looking for a new job.  If you do decide to look for a new job, then WNYJOBS.com has a NEW confidential profile resume tool for “passive” Job Seekers that you may want to check out!

As always, best of luck in your job search!