Stress is a part of life, but it's important to realize what stresses are acceptable and which ones are not. Stress even comes with the good things: excitement about a promotion, the rush of bringing in new clients or the thrill of a presentation gone right.
But when the stress is excruciating and mostly negative, it's time to reconsider your employment situation. Here are four signs your job has become too stressful, along with some advice on how to deal with that stress.
When your job is affecting your health, it's time to look for another employer. Signs of job burnout or excessive stress include weight gain, heart problems, poor diet, high blood pressure, anxiety or depression, exhaustion and impairment of mental functions. If your body is going downhill faster than age alone can explain, then stress and fatigue are likely the causes.
If you're experiencing symptoms like heart palpitations, you can find many high-quality doctor directories, such as ZocDoc or Vitals that can make sure the symptoms are not long-term, but it's important to get out of overly stressful situations before your health is permanently affected. No job is worth damaging your health. Get a thorough checkup, and line up some interviews with different employers.
It's sometimes easier to ignore emotional symptoms because they seem less "real." But symptoms like a lack of motivation, constant feelings of frustration, a cynical attitude and a short attention span are as real as it comes. If you notice that you lack the spark you once had or your attitude about your career has shifted from positive to negative, it's a good sign your job is sapping the life out of you. There are jobs out there that do offer fulfillment, satisfaction and growth opportunities, along with a good paycheck.
Is your family complaining that you never spend time with them anymore? Do your relatives comment that you don't seem as happy as you used to be? Have your friends forgotten your phone number because you haven't returned their calls in months? These are all signs that you're headed for job burnout. Find a job that allows you to pursue your career without sacrificing your emotional well-being or your relationships with those outside the office.
Sometimes it's easier to see the signals outside of you than those inside, such as a toxic management environment. Do you get upset just because your manager walks into the room? Does the manager always focus on the negative and neglect to add anything positive? Signs of a toxic manager are disrespecting subordinates, being mistrustful of others, looking down on the employees and only being concerned about their own agendas.
It is not necessary to subject yourself to being berated, unappreciated and scolded in order to earn a paycheck. Look for an employer that values their employees by demanding your manager respects and nurtures subordinates. Good companies provide manager training and other programs to assure that employees are well-managed, not belittled or berated.
Toxic management is one sign of an unhealthy company. Other signs are poor earnings, high employee turnover and failing to keep clients over the long term. Also, be wary of your company if you see signs of unethical behaviors in management or managers willing to overlook unethical behavior in their subordinates.
Trying to stick with a fledging company to right the sinking ship is a lost cause. Instead of taking on the stresses of trying to turn a failing company into a success (which you likely can't do singlehandedly), find a solid, stable company to contribute to, where your efforts will be recognized and rewarded.
Many people stick with a stressful situation until they've lost all their passion for the career they love. Don't let this happen to you. If your job is stressing you to the point that it’s damaging your health, emotional balance, relationships or the enthusiasm you have for the industry, it's time to move on. Fortunately, the labor force is full of promising companies, many of which are already looking for talented, ambitious, skilled and passionate workers just like you.
Update your résumé, fine-tune your LinkedIn profile and start looking for a company where the successes outweigh the stresses.