Pressure is a constant for everybody who has ever held down one job or another. No matter what is involved in the job, no matter how much you enjoy it; you will always encounter an amount of pressure. While feeling stressed and pressured is normal, being under chronic pressure is something that should be avoided and dealt with at all cost. As a person, I have been subjected to varying degrees of work pressure at different points in my life. I viewed this as a normal thing at first until eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. At that point, I carried out research into how to cope with work-related pressure and after that employed my findings. This has helped me become more productive both at work and in other things. The following is a link to statistics that exist on work stress. This article has been put together to educate you on the harmful effects of pressure and how to cope with it.
How should you handle work-related pressure? It is important that you discover what is responsible for the pressure before taking steps on combating it. There are several things involved in handling pressure such as taking your vacation seriously, making healthy choices, engage positively with your boss, and learn relaxation techniques.
The first thing to understand in your quest towards managing undue pressure is that there are two different types. These are internal and external.
Internal pressure is the pressure you put on yourself. This can be a demand by yourself of yourself to work harder and achieve more. It can be a push by yourself to become the best at something in your organization. These demands that you make of yourself and which you struggle with can lead to a massive amount of pressure. If left unchecked and not properly dealt with, it will take its toll both physically and mentally.
The other type of pressure we usually contend with is external pressure. As the name suggests, this refers to the pressure that is placed on us from the outside. An example is a manager that micromanages you or having to work under very demanding circumstances and conditions.
Pressure can be brought on by the following things;
- A lack of interest and/or absence of engagement in the job,
- Having to beat deadlines and putting yourself under a lot of stress as a result of this,
- Little to no opportunity for growth and personal development,
- Having a boss who demands the most extraordinary things ever,
- A lack of a social support system in the workplace,
- Inconsistent demands (such as incongruous performance expectations),
- Frustration from being ordered around and not having a say in job-related decisions,
- Being underpaid, or feeling so anyway.
Pressure, in the right dosage, can be a very good thing as it can spur people to work harder and achieve more. However, when it exceeds a certain point, the reverse starts to happen, and performances start to drop instead of rising.
The first noticeable sign that the pressure you are under is too much for you is a feeling of dissatisfaction. This will manifest in your work and your attitude toward things in your workplace. The next thing that follows is that your productivity will dip slightly.
If these signs are not noticed and attended to, things start to worsen, and you start experiencing such things as stress, sadness, and anxiety.
After this stage then comes to burn out which is a feeling extreme exhaustion as a result of having worked too much and too hard and having been subjected to undue pressure.
Apart from experiencing burnout, other issues can also arise. This includes illness as a result of the body’s immune system having been weakened by stress, mental and emotional issues like depression and unhappiness and/or behavioral issues such as aggression.
Some of the negative effects of being under too much pressure have already been established; other such effects are; headache, high blood pressure, insomnia, obesity, heart ailments and so much more. Some people make the mistake of attempting to combat the pressure they are under such measures as drugs and alcohol. This is, however, not feasible as it will only lead to more complications.
How do I Handle Negative Work Pressure (Stress)?
There are nine ways by which you can deal with undue work pressure:
1. Identify what stresses you out
2. Make healthy choices
3. Set certain limits for yourself
4. Ensure you take time out to replenish yourself
5. Learn relaxation techniques
6. Engage your boss
7. Keep your overachieving complex in check
8. Avoid conflicts
9. Seek help
Identify what Stresses You Out: the first thing to do if you are to cope effectively with being under too much pressure is to identify those things responsible for the pressure in the first place. One way by which you can do this is to keep a journal. You can record your daily activities in this journal and when you go through it and analyze it later on, identify those things responsible for your being too pressured. You should record events, actions, and reactions as well as thoughts and emotions. Those in your work environments such as your boss or co-workers should not be left out; for all you know, they could be the reason why you are under so much pressure.
Make Healthy Choices: some people cope with stress and too much pressure by engaging in habits that will, rather than improve their situation, worsen things. While it is true that being under too much pressure can lead to a breakdown of order thereby causing instability and such, you should do your best to combat this and not succumb to it. The worst decision you can literally make when stressed is to indulge in eating junk food, drinking alcohol or taking pharmaceutical drugs. This will only serve to worsen an already awful situation. Instead of doing these things, enroll in a gym somewhere and exercise. If you don’t have the time to do that, find out a couple of routines that you can do at home and engage in them. Eat healthy meals, pick up a hobby (such as reading books, cycling, playing chess and a host of other things), spend more time out in the sun and so on. Also, ensure you get enough sleep and drop those habits that might interfere with your sleep such as taking caffeine a few hours before bed and using your phone just before you sleep.
Set Certain Limits for Yourself: it is important that you find a way to delineate your work life and your home life. While you might be tempted to bring your work home with you, you should not. If it is so important that you do so, ensure that it is not past a certain time. One of the things that technology has done is that it has made us available at all hours of the day and night; this is both a blessing and a curse. Set boundaries for yourself such as no work-related activity from a certain time, do not even check email from work. This will have the effect of keeping work at work and making your home a safe place, a sanctuary to escape to and shed all the hustle and bustle of the day. This distinction between home and work is important, and if you can afford to do such, you will be in a better place to handle the pressure you are under.
Ensure You Take Time Out to Replenish Yourself: as already mentioned, every job comes with a certain amount of stress no matter the attributes. This makes it imperative that you take some time off to replenish your juices every once in a while. One reason for this is that pressure builds and unless we take active steps to get rid of this accumulated pressure, it will eventually result in burnout and already discussed complications. Taking time off to replenish yourself includes going on vacation during your vacation leave (vacation doesn’t necessarily have to be a grand affair), taking time off every once in a while to engage in a non-work activity and so on. This distance from work will help depressurize you such that when you eventually get back to work, you will physically and mentally ready to take it on.
Learn Relaxation Techniques: relaxation is one of the most effective ways of combating stress and negative pressure. Take a class on meditation, performing deep breathing exercises and mindfulness. You can also learn it by yourself; resources abound on these practices online. Relaxing will help you ease away the pressure such that you will be left feeling replenished after. Schedule a time for when to do this and make a habit of it every day. Apart from helping you to ease stress, these practices will also help you strengthen your focus and concentration, and this will be of help to you in accomplishing tasks you are sure to come across in your day to day activities.
Engage Your Boss: as already established, several things might be responsible for the pressure you are under. This can be your boss demanding too much from you or just simply the environment in which you are working. If you identify the reason for the pressure as something from your boss or from the environment itself, have a seat down with your boss. Lay out the things you have noticed and have a heart-to-heart conversation with him/her. The purpose of this is not to complain and rant about what you’ve been through and what not, no. Rather, it should be an exercise in enlightening your boss about the effect of too much pressure on employees. You will find several research about this online. Offer to help come up with a plan on how to improve things in the workplace. Ensure that the plan solves each of the areas of weakness you already outlined such as little to no opportunity for growth, lack of a definite job description and so on. This will help improve the working condition of employees in your workplace.
Keep Your Overachieving Complex in Check: you want to accomplish so much and be the big guy at work, yeah, we know. You wouldn’t be anybody (big guy or small guy) if you experience burnout and develop health complications though. Instead of always trying to be perfect and aiming for overachieving things, just stick with doing your best. Be satisfied with giving your best on tasks assigned to you. A lot of time, we are the engineers of our own misfortunes, trying to be perfect in everything might seem good now, but in the long run, it will have negative effects and productivity will drop. So, stick with delivering your best and then push yourself to improve on that in incremental steps and you will find that all that you want to accomplish will eventually be accomplished in the long run.
Avoid Conflicts: being at loggerheads with your co-workers might be the reason why you are stressed. Do everything within your power to stop this. Avoid being drawn into arguments and disagreements. Ensure that you stay positive and calm and that you do not allow yourself to be disturbed by what is going on around you. This will go a long way towards helping you let off too much pressure.
Seek Help: if you feel like you cannot combat the pressure you are under by yourself, seek help. You can seek help from family members, friends or even professionals. If your employer has stress management resources in place, make use of it. Talk about your concerns with people and if you don’t feel any positive change, consult a psychologist. This will help you identify and combat the stress you are under so that you can lead a good life.
Taking care of ourselves is very important. Pressure is good, quite alright, too much of it is, however, harmful and must be checked. If the steps given in this guide are followed religiously, you will be on your way to managing pressure effectively in no time.
Can you work under pressure?
Definitely. The right amount of pressure though. It is actually quite important that pressure exists in a work environment as this motivates the employees to achieve more thereby enabling them to be more productive.
Is pressure the same thing as stress?
No, pressure is not the same thing as stress. Pressure is a double-edged sword which can be either good or bad while stress is just bad. Stress is what happens after having been under too much pressure. It can result in different adverse effects if not properly managed.
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