In recent years, every aspect of our lives has become competitive which has resulted in an exponential rise in stress levels, affecting not only young people but all workers. However, it affects young people and teens differently and for all kinds of reasons ranging from pressure to do well, social relationships with friends and partners, too much to do, feelings of overwhelm, lack of time, lack of sleep, homework, exams and issues of self-esteem to name a few.
Stress might come about from a life challenge like transitioning from school or university to begin a career. This sea-change can cause great anxiety particularly in light of changes in the way we work in the internet economy and the long list of post-Pandemic hurdles.
When stress persists for longer periods, it can harm mental and physical health. The upside is there are things you can do to look after your mental health in the workplace and adapt to changing life circumstances. Read on to discover more.
Manage your Expectations
When you get a job, you’re expected to bring the best version of yourself to work every day. Sometimes anxiety and stress can get in the way of this. One reason young people may feel stressed when joining the workforce is by not managing their expectations.
Everything in the workplace is new and interactions with bosses or colleagues can make you feel frustrated or anxious. On top of all that, you’re working long hours, completing multiple tasks simultaneously, and carrying the weight of expectations on your shoulders. If you anticipate meeting some of these problems (manage your expectations!) and plan how to deal with someone taking credit for your work, or a senior worker being bad tempered or colleagues not pulling their weight then you’ll manage fine. It’s all in a day’s work and most days will have far more positive stuff going on than negative.
Develop Coping Mechanisms
You can become resilient by developing coping mechanisms to help you deal with stress and pressure. If you feel stressed, aim to stay as detached as possible and try to determine the cause of your stress. Is it the heavy workload, a pressing deadline or is it something or someone else? Taking a step back from the problem allows you to take a neutral standpoint, reflect on the situation, and react appropriately. The more you become aware of your stressors, the easier it becomes to manage the stress. List your stressors – a messy desk, a grumpy colleague, a heavy workload, too early starts, too many late nights in the office, getting to work on time through rush hour. Use this information to guide your job choice and find a company with values that roughly track yours.
Know your Support Network – Have them On Dial
When emotions overwhelm you, open up to friends or family. You would be amazed how quickly you’ll feel better by sharing a work worry with friends or family members. A problem shared is a problem halved!
Sit With the Discomfort
The most successful people have been found to be most able to deal with discomfort in their lives. Psychologists regularly advise sitting with the discomfort. Life can be messy. There will be moments of uncomfortableness. Work on staying motivated through the discomfort. Continue to check off your To Do List and focus on other things while you process whatever problem is in hand. Instead of sleeping, drinking, eating or gambling to distract yourself from negative emotions, try acknowledging them. Connect with your inner self and find out where the emotions are coming from. It may just be settling in pains as you get used to a new routine, go through sea-changes, or meet new challenges. If you know what emotions to expect and how you react to certain things, you’ll be able to mentally gauge what’s happening and minimize anxiety and stress.
Keep an Open Mind
To become resilient to workplace stress, keeping a positive and open mind are essential mindsets. Studies show adopting a positive stance in the work environment gives employees a sense of control and makes them adapt faster. As the world changes, so do workplaces. That’s why employers look for flexible and adaptable staff. Mastering these two skills will help you respond to challenges effectively and hopefully reduce any stress you may feel.
Learn to Survive the Office Jungle
Whilst working in an office can be exciting, it can be exhausting too. Quite apart from doing your work, you must learn to deal with office politics. In my opinion not enough time is dedicated to teaching young people about office politics. Since you’re at the beginning of your career, you may not be familiar with the conflicts, power plays and frankly ‘interesting’ situations that can arise in the office. I talk to young people entering the workplace for the first time about power politics and how to negotiate your way through dominant office personalities, older coworker power plays and how to protect your ideas to avoid anyone taking credit for them. All these scenarios have the potential to put an additional strain on your mental health.
It really isn’t as bad as it sounds! Competition is part of office politics. Everyone wants recognition and public praise, so to avoid feeling frustrated or hurt, be the first one to claim your ideas or work. Also anticipating any problems before they arise will likely offset any discomfort you feel as a newbie in the office. Decide early on who you can trust and make sure that you check in with them regarding deadlines and meetings. You might be inexperienced, but you’re young, driven, and full of potential. Thanks to these qualities, you’ll find a way through and learn as you go.
Lastly, it’s important to stay away from gossip and office talk. If you become part of that scene, the chances are you’ll get caught up in conflicts that don’t concern you. Tread lightly when talking to your coworkers. Ideally you need a degree in craftiness! For more information about office politics, check out Jane Clarke’s Office Politics: A Survival Guide (available on Amazon).
People of all ages suffer from stress for any number of reasons. As young adults joining workplaces that are firmly rooted in the online world, post a challenging period in medical history, you’re facing more mental pressures to create and adapt, to learn quickly and grasp opportunities fast. To cope with the challenges that come with change, we all need to develop resilience so keep an open mind, keep a positive attitude, always have hope and, if you’re joining the workforce, be crafty about office politics!