March 9, 2023
When he was five years old, our son was worried about his two new goldfish because they were lying around the bottom of the tank instead of swimming.
“They are stressed out,” the pet store fish guy said when we asked for his advice.
“Stressed out? How stressful can swimming, eating, and pooping be?” I inquired.
“Well,” he said. They don’t adapt well to change. They become lethargic and have difficulty even with simple tasks like eating. But don’t worry, you can give them a few drops of Stress Coat, and they will get better quickly.”
I don’t know about you, but I have much in common with these fish. My stress increases when a lot of change occurs, especially on a grand scale, like how the COVID pandemic negatively impacted my business.
Workplace change is running rampant. I’ve heard from so many of you about layoffs, redefined jobs, mergers between companies or departments, new bosses, and much more. These changes, along with the increased demands on our time and talents, are stressing people out. Here are 10 common workplace stressors:
1. Poor relationships at work. Conflict with co-workers can leave employees anxious and avoidant about coming to work. A non-inclusive environment can also be a source of stress.
2. Lack of support. Managers’ lack of support, training, and direction can lead to confusion. Uncertainty around employee responsibilities and duties can be frustrating.
3. Long hours and heavy workloads. Remote jobs have placed growing pressure on employees to work longer and harder. Companies expect their employees to complete massive volumes of work in a short amount of time.
4. Changes within the organization. Structural changes are stressful when not properly planned and implemented.
5. Poor working environment. Workplaces in which bullying and harassment take place are hot targets for stressed-out workers. Employees in these environments often feel undervalued.
6. Job insecurity. Today’s post-pandemic economy is highly competitive and volatile. These factors drive companies to lay off employees, creating job insecurity.
7. Lack of autonomy. Employees given excessive responsibility without the ability to delegate correctly may become demotivated and stressed because they have no decision-making power.
9. Outdated tools and technologies. Working with outdated technology can be stressful. Employees may struggle to be productive without functional tools at their disposal.
10. Unclear expectations from management. Vague instructions and expectations from managers can quickly lead to conflict at work and place undue stress on all parties involved.
Unfortunately, so many factors that cause stress are out of our control. But we can make personal changes to help us better cope with stress.
Toward the end of 2022, my stress levels were reaching all-time highs. I had taken on a lot of work, my husband was ill, the holidays were approaching, and the world didn’t feel safe anymore. The stress was taking a toll on me, so I finally decided to do something about it.
To better cope with stress, I changed three things in my life that have made a positive difference. Lately, I’ve received a few comments about how much happier and funnier I am. “Like your old self,” they said. (I didn’t know my old self had disappeared).
1. I’ve committed to walking every day. I walk as fast as I can, for as long as I can (this means I’m not gasping). I try to walk for at least one hour. If I can’t do it all at once due to time constraints, I walk for 1/2 hour in the morning and a 1/2 hour in the evening.
2. I don’t wear headphones when I walk. Instead, I use this time to clear my head, pray and think. As a result, my creativity and energy have both increased dramatically.
3. I try drinking at least six glasses of water daily! I know, I know. We hear this all the time. But I never really stuck to it before, and I feel great. Moreover, I don’t get nearly as tired (the number one cause of fatigue in Americans is dehydration).
We owe it to ourselves to take care of our health. I always thought I was healthy and active, but my husband has noticed my change since I started walking. So I’ve committed to reserving this one hour per day just for me—no easy task when you run a business and teach college classes. But the rewards are great, and my mental and physical health have made all my other tasks much more manageable.
By the way, we gave “Stress Coat” to the goldfish, and they responded swimmingly!