Ask any millennial to describe their working life in two words and we guarantee the answer would be: overworked and underpaid.
Argue if you will, Gen X, but research is on our side, with 75 per cent of ‘white collar’ professionals rating their stress levels at work as 3 or higher out of 5.
“The culture of overwork, fuelled in part by technology and consequently that we are always available, has put us in a stress stranglehold and we’ve become victims of a tyranny that never allows us to relax and recharge”, says hypnotherapist, life coach and psychologist, Jivan Dempsey.
Preach, Jivan, preach.
And while we know stress is bad for us (which is why many of us choose to unwind with a wine or five), prolonged stress can actually have physical effects on the body.
You know things are bad when you start dreaming or having nightmares about work. But the clincher is when it stops you from sleeping at all.
- Your muscles ache
When you’re constantly on edge, clenching and unclenching depending on your boss’s mood, it’s no wonder you feel like you’re constantly lifting weights.
- Increased blood pressure
When you’re stressed, your body produces a surge of hormones which makes your heart beat faster and your blood vessels narrow. Which can lead to…
- Greater risk of heart attacks and strokes
While a moment of stress will only cause a temporary spike, if you’re constantly anxious at work, long-term high blood pressure is a possibility, which in turn could lead to more serious issues like heart attack and stroke.
- Suppressed immune system
Chronic stress can make you more susceptible to illness, as the strain on your body weakens the immune system. If you’re taking more sick days then usual (which in turn makes you more stressed), this could signal a vicious cycle.
- You’re tired all the time
We all get tired, but if you’re fatigued to the point no nap or weekend lie-in can fix, it’s stress that’s zapping all your energy.
Is it your job or is it you?
To avoid the above and set about combating your stress, you need to assess the root of the problem.
“Being angry or frustrated at work is simply an evolutionary response to danger,” says Jivan. “Your subconscious mind is alert to potential conflict or the sense of unfairness.”
“It may be that you don’t like your job, your colleagues or your boss, or it too challenging or not challenging enough.”
“However, if you find you are angry all the time, this may signify health issues or projected behaviours that nothing to do with work at all. Talking therapies, like CBT and hypnotherapy, are a great way to help you deal with anger issues by identifying the root causes and putting in place strategies to deal with the anger.”
Some coping methods to try
Mindfulness meditation has become the go-to technique for business coaches and psychotherapists alike.
“It’s a meditation technique that helps you to breathe through your emotions so that you can let go of any anger and open your mind to calmness”, says Jivan.
“Practice mindfulness for at least 15 to 30 minutes daily. Take deep breaths and simply allow the emotions to rise, notice them, and then let go. Over time you will notice and feeling of calmness and increasing empowerment over your emotions and help you to face the challenges of the day.”
If it’s boredom that’s making you frustrated and unhappy at work, Jivan says to seek out new challenges and put yourself forward for new projects.
“Take ownership for your own destiny and happiness in your job. Remember that need to be your own cheerleader. This will not only increase your profile but may also make your work more fun.”
How to know when it’s time to quit
No job should make you so unhappy that it becomes detrimental to your health, and the physical effects listed above should definitely be noted as red flags.
“If you are experiencing prolonged levels of stress, anger, or frustration, at a subconscious level your mind is telling you that something is wrong and its time to reconsider your career choices”, says Jivan.
“Life is too short to be unhappy at work.”