Stress is inevitable. But the debilitating strain of chronic work stress is not, even if you’re in an inherently stressful profession.
In fact, learning to manage your stress is likely to improve your career, according to career coach Julie Jansen, the author of “You Want Me to Work With Who? Eleven Keys to a Stress-Free, Satisfying, and Successful Work Life—No Matter Who You Work With.”
“The number one tip I give to people who want to get ahead at work is ‘Manage your stress,’” she says. “People who are stressed act out, and behaving badly can mean that when a promotion comes up, you’ll be passed over.”
Consider these tips for recognizing and managing work stress:
“The most important thing an individual can do is have awareness of both what’s causing the stress and how you’re responding to it,” says Dr. Steven Rolfe, principal of the Boswell Group, a business consultancy in New York City.
Focus on your stress response and pinpoint causes:
• What activities, duties, or people leave you feeling drained?
• What or who causes your neck pain, headaches, or racing heartbeat?
• What tasks or situations do you avoid?
• How do you talk to yourself about your stress? What stories do you tell?
While you probably can’t control layoffs or reorganizations, there are things you can control—and you should focus on those, says Diane Lang, a health and wellness counselor in New York City.
“I had a client who couldn’t leave her job at the moment because she was a single parent,” she said. “So we made a list of everything she could control and worked on the list.”
Such a list might include focusing on improving your own job performance and setting short- and long-term goals for changing jobs.