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Job Stress is Not About Work

Strange as it may seem, job stress is usually not about stress from too much work. Most people seem to like the work they do. Of course some jobs are more stressful than others, but when an employee admits to having job stress, it usually means some person is causing the stress. Usually a supervisor or a boss, and sometimes a co-worker.

Does this mean that all supervisors and bosses cause stress to their employees? Of course not. Most realize that happy employees turn out more work faster, and do everything they can to provide a pleasant work place.

But job stress is real. And those employees who are subjected to stress day after day in the form of harassment, belittling, humiliation, and other forms of verbal abuse, often develop physical symptoms as real as ulcers, heart problems and many other conditions. Sleep disturbance is almost certain.

Self-esteem is at its lowest which causes the employee to make mistakes, which then further lowers self esteem.

The employee feels he/she has no control over the situation, which is generally true. If the job is the employee’s main source of income, an employee will usually hang on until it becomes absolutely imperative that he/she make a choice between the job and his/her health.

Is there a solution other than quitting? Maybe not. But there are things you can try. Only you can decide how to handle it because you know what the reaction will likely be to whatever means you take.

If other employees are also being harassed, there is strength in numbers and a session with a higher up may take care of the situation. If you are the only one being harassed you may need a co-worker to be a “witness” if you decide to consult with a higher up.

If you decide to go to a higher up, It is a good idea to ask this person if there is anything you can do to help solve the problem. And if they have any suggestions. You have shown that you will cooperate in solving it, and the problem now becomes partially the higher up’s responsibility to offer a solution.

If all else fails, you may have to learn to live with it. There are breathing exercises to help control the anger you feel.

You can learn to “turn off the abuse” and substitute good thoughts for those that cause you anxiety.

A consuming interest in a sport or a hobby or almost anything will give you something you love to do, which will take your mind off of the verbal harassment.

And remember, things change. Maybe the person causing the trouble will get another job.

Or maybe you will.

Copyright 2006 Robert T. Lewis

Robert T. Lewis, Ph.D.

Psychologist and Author of:

The Best Little Job Stress Manual on the Planet