Imagine being in a scenario where you’ve been hired for a prestigious multinational company’s good-paying job. It sounds like a dream come true, right?
No doubt, landing a job you’ve always wanted or getting out of your comfort zone for significant career advancement is an exciting situation to be in. However, sometimes, this may also mean having a demanding job in a stressful environment.
Anyone who has ever held a job before has, at some point, felt overwhelmed with demanding work requirements and succumbed to the pressures of work-related stress.
No matter how much you love what you do, you may still feel trapped if your job demands a lot from you.
It may start with being pressured to meet strict deadlines or accomplish a challenging task. The next thing you know, the stress has become chronic, and it’s starting to take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being.
While pressure at work is unavoidable, some strategies can help you manage stress and get a better grip on your situation.
Determine Your Biggest Stressors and Triggers
The first step in addressing a problem or dealing with negative emotions is identifying the root cause. Think about the things and situations that overwhelm you or bother you the most at work.
Is it your demanding boss, toxic colleagues, dealing with cranky customers, or maybe huge responsibilities such as creating critical reports from disorganized data?
It will help if you list them down in a journal, including what makes them so stressed and how you respond to them. Be honest about your thoughts, feelings, and the circumstances at work to understand what triggers the stress and find patterns in your behavior towards your stressors.
After reviewing their journal, some people find that they’ve been making a big deal out of some aspects and that they are fairly bearable when looked at from another perspective or approached differently. By having everything noted down, you will also be able to build strategies around these things.
Figure Out the Things You Can Change to Improve Your Situation
Stop the irrational thinking that you are trapped in a hopeless situation, even if it feels like it. In reality, you have more power than you realize.
Although it is improbable to overhaul your job entirely, there are certain things within your control that you can adjust to suit your needs better.
For example, if you are a department head and find that too much time is spent in meetings, you can push for change by either keeping the meetings short or less frequent.
Focus your energy on identifying the aspects of your demanding job that you can directly take action to resolve to have a more pleasant work experience.
Below are 12 useful tips for coping with a demanding job, which is proven to work better than just continuing to break your back, wishing for things to get better soon.
- Do Some Planning
- Take a Break
- Get Enough Sleep
- Take Care of Personal Matters
- Speak Up!
- Learn When to Say No
- Take Everything One Day at a Time
- Change Your Perspective
- Turn to Healthy Responses to Stress
- Practice Self-Care
- Have a Solid Support System
- Leave Your Current Job
1. Do Some Planning and Stay Organized
If your job is demanding, you will most likely have a seemingly endless list of things. With this, there’s the tendency for you just to jump right in and start working as soon as you arrive in the office to accomplish as many tasks as you can within the workday.
What if I tell you that using some of your precious time to do some planning can help you become more efficient? This seems like a rookie move on the surface, but having some structure can guide you in getting your priorities done.
A crazy schedule can be much more tolerable if you don’t have items on your list flying madly around your head, but rather an organized and actionable To-Do list.
You’ll be surprised about how much time can be saved if you don’t have to stop once in a while to figure out how you’re going to do your work. There are productivity apps out there that can help you focus on what you need to do now and remind you of upcoming deadlines and tasks that you need to work on next. Alternatively, you can just pull out a piece of paper and list down your tasks according to the priority level.
Once you have set a schedule, don’t put things off and stick to it as much as possible. Although it can be tempting to procrastinate, think of the consequences such as piling up of work and rushing to meet deadlines, which can cause you a lot of stress. When there are jobs to be done, the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Besides keeping your schedule in order, you should also have a system or organization for your digital files and paperwork so you won’t scramble to find what you need to get your work done.
Sloppiness is like kryptonite for anyone wishing to be efficient. Keep your workstation and your computer clutter-free by deleting unnecessary files and getting rid of things that you no longer need.
2. Take a Break
Taking a break is underrated. Although it seems counter-intuitive to do nothing in the middle of all your demanding work requirements, taking regular breaks is necessary for you to function correctly.
Don’t skip your lunch break just to finish your tasks. Your body needs to recover, and your mind needs to be refreshed. While there are ways to de-stress at your desk, sometimes, it would also help take a minute to step out of your office to get some fresh air.
When your stress levels are too high, your cubicle or office can quickly turn into a place that can make you feel anxious and prevent you from getting work done.
If taking a walk outside for a few minutes and clearing your head doesn’t work, you can also work from someplace more serene — that is, if your company is flexible enough to accommodate such work arrangements.
Getaway from the hustle and bustle and go to your favorite coffee shop or a public park where you can work peacefully.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Ever since we are little kids, we are always reminded of the importance of getting a full night’s sleep. Yet, many are pulling late nights because they have so much work to do.
If you think you are doing the right thing and being extra productive, the time you spend working instead of sleeping will not help you get work done faster.
Coming into work, feeling exhausted will slow you down, make you more distractible, and leave you in a sour mood — all these will negatively affect your performance.
When you’re overwhelmed with your demanding job, it also implies that you are working your brain too hard. Don’t punish yourself and give it the rest it deserves. Trust me; you will find a way to get your tasks done tomorrow even better than you could accomplish them tonight.
Plus, not getting enough sleep can have significant long-term effects on your health, such as anxiety and obesity. So put that cup of coffee down, and go to bed.
4. Take Care of Personal Matters
Keeping your personal life and work-life separate is easier said than done. Whether you’re going through a rough patch in your relationship, facing some family problems, or whatever personal problem outside work you’re dealing with, these will inevitably affect your overall emotional and mental state.
So if your job is demanding as it is, these personal issues will make it even more difficult for you to cope.
If you have mental health problems that keep you from functioning well and adapting at work, consider taking some time off, and seek counseling to take care of these personal matters more effectively.
Speak with your HR or employer to discuss how your personal life has been affecting your work and assure them that you intend to return to work much better once you overcome these issues.
5. Speak Up!
You don’t have to suffer in silence. If your job is demanding too much from you and your workload becomes too much to handle, it’s recommended to speak to your boss. Craft an email that outlines all your points clearly and request for a meeting.
During the meeting, communicate respectfully how your responsibilities at work affect you negatively and make practical suggestions on how you can be relieved of some pressure. As much as possible, control your emotions and stay calm and professional. This meeting can lead to favorable outcomes such as a new plan that you and your boss designed to help you prioritize tasks or get some items off your plate.
Another useful approach is to talk about your issues with a trusted colleague, but not in a gossipy manner, or to put your boss or another colleague in a bad light.
When your mind is spinning with all the things that you need to do, simply talking through your list of tasks can make everything seem much more manageable. While you can get some valuable advice on how your co-worker has dealt with similar situations in the past, saying your To-Dos out loud can help you process and tackle them more efficiently.
Remember that talking it out or even seeking help is not a sign of weakness and doesn’t make you look incapable or whiny.
6. Learn When to Say No
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. You should only take on as much work as you can handle, and don’t let yourself be in a position where the stress and exhaustion are resulting in a sub-standard quality of output.
Stop being a doormat and learn how to push back in a good manner. If you are too bogged down with work, don’t be afraid to tell your colleagues or supervisors straightforwardly that you can’t do a particular task within the specified deadline.
Instead of being a people-pleaser and just saying yes to everything, become comfortable in starting a discussion about what’s currently on top of your priority list and work out a plan with your teammates or boss about which activities can be moved to a later date.
This approach will make your demanding work duties more manageable and prevent you from reaching a point where you have become resentful of your job.
7. Take Everything One Day at a Time
Having this massive list of work assigned to you can easily overwhelm you. However, if you break it down into smaller chunks, you will find it far less stressful.
Always remember that as long as you’re employed, there will always be more tasks to accomplish. However, this never-ending nature of work will not leave you discouraged or depleted of energy if you just keep your focus on the work that you need to complete for the day, the week, or the month.
8. Change Your Perspective
The way you think about your situation at work has a massive impact on your level of stress.
Although remembering why you’re working hard and the essential things in life will not fix your issues, managing how you think about your situation will help you cope with the stresses of your work life from a personal perspective.
Also, switching to a more optimistic mindset will lift your morale and positively affect those around you.
We’re always told not to take our issues and emotional baggage at work. The same is true with the problems at work– leave them in the office and don’t take them home.
Once your workday ends, learn how to switch off your work brain. Stop continually checking your emails and spend time with your family and friends. Remember that it’s just a job, and there’s more to life than your work.
9. Turn to Healthy Responses to Stress
Stress is an inevitable part of life. No matter how easy going you are, you will still come to that point where you’ll be faced with tremendous pressure from a demanding job, especially if you’re at the peak of your career.
Many people fight these negative feelings through stress eating, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and other self-destructive behaviors. However, instead of falling into this pit, you can choose healthier responses to tension.
Yoga and different forms of exercise are a great way to cope with stress. Alternatively, you can try out new hobbies and fun activities. By setting aside time for enjoyable things, you will not feel helpless and stuck in your difficult situation.
10. Practice Self-care and Take Vacations
After a long day at work, you deserve to relax! Go home and practice some self-care– this could be as simple as taking a nice, warm bath or getting a massage. Trust me; when you return to the office the following day, you will feel much more re-energized and have renewed focus for a fresh start.
Working hard to reach your dreams is good, but you need to balance it with rest, leisure, and other fun things to do. Maintaining such an equilibrium can lead you to be happier, healthier, and more satisfied with your life. Make use of your vacation leave credits and take trips or staycations once in a while to enrich your soul.
Depending on your personal preferences and personality, you can go out for an adventure, go somewhere, have some peace, or simply stay at home to rest. You can consider going out on vacations as your reward for yourself for giving your 100% at work and striving to become better at what you do.
If you’re holding a highly critical role at work and it is challenging to schedule long days off, even mini-vacations will do so. These weekend breaks do not always need to be well planned out.
You can just make a loose plan of the things that you genuinely enjoy, which you want to allocate some time for the weekend.
Sometimes, that dose of excitement that comes with having something to look forward to can help get you through the week.
These short breaks can help alleviate your stress levels, recharge your batteries, and ultimately bring out your best self. Why? Because after taking vacations, you will find yourself fresh in your thinking, be in a better emotional state, and feel less exhausted. The result is that you will be able to make more sound decisions and perform better at work.
It is important to emphasize that taking vacations does not always mean traveling or doing exciting activities.
People with intense jobs may sometimes prefer doing nothing and just chilling out at home — this also counts as “vacation.” Always keep in mind that you don’t always have to be productive. Learn when to give yourself a timeout, especially when you feel yourself being on the verge of a burnout.
11. Have a Solid Support System
Sometimes, demanding work can push you to your limits, and you’ll need some support. When you’re feeling too overwhelmed, keep yourself surrounded with trusted friends and family members so you won’t be carried out by the stress at work.
If your company offers stress management resources and programs, take advantage of these as well.
Additionally, attending counseling and stress management sessions with a psychologist can also help you learn strategies to cope with your demanding job and change unhealthy behavior that may further weigh you down.
12. Leave Your Current Job and Seek Greener Pastures
If you’ve done everything you can to adapt to your job’s challenges and exhausted all recommended ways to minimize your stress and still find yourself struggling, then it might be worth considering to look for a new job instead.
Keep track of your physical and mental well-being, and don’t sacrifice your health to hold on to your position. Be aware of the telling signs that your career is killing you.
You’ll know your job is demanding too much from you if you’re starting to get sick far too often than usual, and it makes you question your skills and abilities. Move on from that toxic work environment and consider other options.
Accept the simple fact that no matter how hard you try, some jobs or companies are just not right for you. Whether it is because of impossible levels of workload and stress, unresolvable conflict of personalities with the people you work with, or other heavy issues, you must admit to yourself that some workplace issues can’t be fixed.
It is always hard to take the first step, but once you’ve made the firm decision and do it, you will find the decision to be highly rewarding in the long run.
As soon as you’re ready, pull out your back-up plan without hesitation. It is the failure to commit to finding alternate employment or implementing your Plan B, which will leave you stranded in that stressful situation.
Sure, it can be terrifying at first, and it takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and resign from a secured job. However, it might be the best course of action to take.
When you look for a new job, make sure that you do your homework and research about its work culture. There are review sites online, which will allow you to see feedback from past employees of the company that you’re targeting.
Furthermore, during the job interview, you can ask questions about management style, schedules and overtime, work arrangements, and other factors that matter to you.
Burnout Can Be Avoided in a Demanding Job
Being challenged is an important part of career and personal growth. A certain level of stress and pressure is healthy and can bring out the best.
While any job has some stressful elements, there are those involving demanding work responsibilities that can leave you in a state of physical, mental, and even emotional exhaustion.
If your job is demanding and you’re struggling to cope, try out some of the tips and strategies shared in this article to alleviate your stress. Remember that it’s not about avoiding the waves; it’s about learning to surf and ride the waves.
After overcoming the challenges, you will realize that it is a highly rewarding experience, after all.