How to Succeed at a High-Stress Job

by Julia Beyers

Stress is one of the most significant dangers for modern people. Every day we deal with a lot of pressure, and the main source of it is our job. In the worst cases, it may lead to a total burnout and serious health problems.
The problem is valid for all employees, but it’s a fact that leaders face more stress. Around 30% of people with management responsibilities don’t consider their level of stress as normal, while half of them are not satisfied with time and quality of work balance and can’t have a proper rest. How to deal with high-stress jobs and executive positions’ pressure? Let’s discover what are the main reasons for work-related stress and how to be able to distract yourself.

Anxiety, stress, and burnout

Being the first signal of all major mental health issues, anxiety might actually help improve your work performance. This feeling is natural as it relates to the uncertainty about results of your work or upcoming events. The thing is that you have to manage anxiety and try to turn it into some benefits.

If not treated properly, increasing anxiety may result in stress. NIOSH defines stress as the harmful response to irrelevant job requirements which don’t match worker’s need or powers. It usually comes with symptoms like apathy, boredom, fatigue, and in worth cases, may lead to depression and other illnesses.

Finally, burnout happens when a worker suffers from chronic stress and exhaustion. It’s a long process, so it’s possible to recognize the signs and fight it. Top managers are in the greatest danger because of intense schedules and high demands. Furthermore, they can contribute to the general stress environment: not feeling well and being ineffective as leaders, they can negatively impact employees.

Usually, it’s the lack of something vital that causes stress:

  • Lack of free time (life-work imbalance)
  • Lack of skills (when your position doesn’t match your skill set)
  • Lack of perspectives (unclear tasks and expectations
  • Lack of appreciation (it’s important to see the results of work and be rewarded for doing a good job)
  • Lack of challenges (repetitive routines)
  • Lack of support (isolation from the group)

We can add to that the aspect of changes. Industries that are not yet fully settled, unstable conditions, shifts in the workplace – these are also extremely stressful. People from innovative or quickly growing fields – like a crypto market or blockchain development – are put at a higher risk of stress and burnout. For example, crypto traders have to track prices all the time – and on the market that much volatile, this means rapid and often dramatic changes.

Statistics also show that jobs that require tough deadlines and being in public eye (broadcaster and reporter) are in a high danger area, as well as jobs that are connected to crimes or transportation (police officer or airline pilot). Significant responsibilities usually come with a huge dose of stress – no wonder that corporate executives and politicians suffer from an enormous professional impact on health and life. Spheres of welfare, nursery, and education are also on the list. Interestingly, jobs which don’t involve much teamwork and leadership potential realization – philosopher or scientist – are considered to be the least stressful. The level of psychological damage among leaders might also be related to gender – studies show that women executives express alarm signs more often.

Strategies to handle stress

What is obvious is that you should reveal the main reason of stress and identify yours specifically. Healthy food, enough sleep, and regular exercises are a basis for your wellbeing. But there also are some helpful techniques that reduce stress.

Combatting Stress Tip #1: Box Breathing

It’s a wonderful technique invented by US Navy SEALs to fight stress and survive during dangerous operations. Box breathing works like this:

  1. Inhale for four seconds.
  2. Don’t breathe for four seconds.
  3. Exhale for four seconds.
  4. Don’t breathe for four seconds

Repeat these four steps as many times as necessary until you feel okay. It is simple and can be used anywhere, anytime.

Combatting Stress Tip #2: Self-talk

Self-talk is simple yet powerful. It’s enough to discuss the past day or think about some pleasant things. If that helps, imagine a listener. A positive inner dialogue is considered to be a perfect leadership hack. Mindfulness adherents advise developing trigger words (reassuring phrases like ‘I can’) and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable (by consciously placing yourself in complicated situations).

Combatting Stress Tip #3: Time Management

There are a lot of strategies related to scheduling your workday and managing activities. Generally, it’s required to find a balance between work and rest even when you’re starting your career, wanting to invest everything in it. Think globally: by spending all your time and energy, you will reach local success but fail in the long run because of burnout. For leaders from all industries, we suggest learning about time management more in order to become stable, persistent, and ready for various challenges.

Summarizing It

High-stressed positions hold a lot of health-related risks. Sometimes anxiety may be useful to develop your leadership skills, but mostly it leads to undesirable problems. To maintain your wellbeing and good work performance, learn about strategies to fight stress. Find a suitable work-life balance and develop some healthy habits: being aware of your own thoughts, practicing positive self-talk and breathing techniques, and properly managing your time are the foundation of happiness and success at work.

Photo: Pexels

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