How can I cope with work related stress better?

I am in a high stress position for a tech company. I am being overworked and underpaid for my contributions and it is not only giving me anxiety, but also demoralizing.

What can I do to manage my stress?

David Klein
David Klein
Humanistic, LGBT-Affirmative Psychotherapy for Individuals & Couples

I think it's important to tease more of this situation out to figure out what is at the root of the stress. It is emotionally dangerous to be at a job for a lengthy duration in which you feel overworked and underpaid. You will not perform well as you mention, and thus your self-esteem will continually take a hit without really any effort. So, I don't know that simply coping with your stress would be advisable as a first step.

You don't speak about a lot of what the office dynamics are like, which can be a big indicator for me of what can be done to help you feel better (because we exist as a part of a relationship with everything, including people at our job.) I would encourage you to speak up about your contributions to your boss. Often, "overworked and underpaid" also includes the "my boss never notices me," and that can demoralizing. If we feel appreciated, that can go a long way. I've found that it is quite common for bosses to require some instruction for how to show each of their employees "appreciation" (and it goes deeper than "thank you" or taking you out to lunch - it's almost something felt as opposed to made explicit.)

But sometimes appreciation isn't going to do the trick either. Because that overworked and underpaid actually has led you to feel "burnout." You have zero interest in doing the job in the way it is designed, so some real changes need to be implemented. 

The bottom line? Try not to just "suck it up" and do all of the "self care" work on your own. If your company isn't helping you to take care of yourself (I'm talking to you, boss that handles employee pay and/or work conditions!) then you also have to question if this is a company worth working for. While I don't know exactly what you do, it sounds like you have confidence in your contributions! So take that confidence to a tech company that will support you (and there are tech companies out there!)

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Samantha  Osborne
Samantha Osborne
Encouraging and Compassionate

Being in this position is tough. If seeking another career opportunity isn't viable, there are a couple of things you can do to manage stress on the job. 

 1. Have a ritual to begin the day:  Consider setting a one sentence intention and plan tasks for the day

2. Take the breaks you are offered. I know it can be difficult to step away from your desk to eat lunch or take 10-minute breaks during the day, but prioritize this if you can. Sometimes 30 minutes of downtime and fresh air can help you feel better. 

3.  Have a ritual to end the day:  If you commute by car consider an end of the day playlist.  Take a walk. Light a candle.  Clear your desk and write tasks for the next day. Whatever it is, send a signal to your brain that it is time to end the day.

4. If you do work from home or are expected to be available after hours, set boundaries where you can.  Set a timer for answering emails and stick to that.  Have phone free meals.    Try to engage in activities that are rejuvenating like spending time the friends and family.  

5. Try to limit alcohol/ drugs.  Move as much as you can.  Get outside in natural sunlight.  

These are just ideas/ suggestions.  Even doing one of these things could be a step in the right direction.  Best of luck! 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Shawn Thomas Berthel, M.S., LMHC
Shawn Thomas Berthel, M.S., LMHC
Step into your new life path.

Hello. Workplace stress is one of those areas of living that troubles many people who need an income to survive. The interactions between you and coworkers is a mixed bag, and sorting that out can be difficult. Also, if you are feeling under appreciated and not well paid, this can add bitterness to your lot of emotions. A few questions can be kept in mind as you work through your situation. Do you have the option of talking to your employer about your experiences and feelings with regard to your current work? Do you have local resources that you can use to find different jobs in your field? Do you have connections with employment counselors or agencies that can support you with strategies in dealing with workplace stress? These questions might cause others to bubble up, and could begin a new journey into a new field.

While still at your job, what can you do to take care of yourself? Are you taking breaks? Do you eat lunch at the office, or do you go somewhere away from the office to eat? What do you do when you have a few moments to breathe? Understanding that you can indeed find even the smallest strategies useful for self-care, can help bolster your energy and give you some support as you move through the day. Seeking the support of family and friends can be helpful as well. Knowing your personal limits and when to pull back and take a break will give you a chance to recharge your mental and physical energy, thus helping you face the demands of your job. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Pamela Suraci
Pamela Suraci
Build on your strengths, grow in your challenge areas and improve your life!

Ugh!  We spend so many hours at work, so if it's a tough environment it can really drag you down.  

Is this your "dream job" gone sour or a "just pay the bills" deal that has gotten stale?  It makes a big difference in terms of next steps.

For example, if this job is a step on the way to a bigger goal, it might be time to assess whether you need to be moving along to then next phase.  Have you learned what you needed to learn to make this a helpful experience?  Or do you sense there is more to learn, but you feel stuck in some way?

 If this current job is part of a bigger plan, then you need to practice some good self care, set up ways to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and make sure you are including some "carrots" along the way.  That might mean spending some time each week networking (preferably live but online works well too) with peers in similar situations (entrepreneur groups, skill building trainings, etc).  Big dreams require small steps, but we all need support along the way.

If , however, this is "just a job", then you really have to reassess your situation.  If you are burned out and not getting paid your worth then  look around for other opportunities.  You are employed, not owned. 

 You mentioned anxiety, and while I don't want to minimize the very real issues anxiety presents, is it possible that some of your anxiety can be seen as "revving your engine"  and readying you to move on?  Or is it that pervasive feeling  of never being able to finish your work, feeling like you will be "in trouble", or dreading every single moment of your workday?  The first is a potentially positive motivator, the second is just bad for you.   See the difference?

In order to feel any satisfaction with your job, it needs to be financially rewarding (to a level that makes sense), be a good atmosphere to learn, be supportive and/or be a step on the way to a bigger plan you have.  If your job isn't fulfilling any of those criteria, you need to move on.  

And finally, if the only reason you have this job is to pay the bills, and you truly see no way around keeping your current position for now, remember why you are there - this is a job, not a family.  You rent your brain and body to your employer, not your heart and soul.  Those belong to you and you are responsible for feeding them.  That means good self-care, making sure you have social engagement (face-to-face, not just online), move your body, feel the sun on your face daily, creating ways to refresh your body and mind and generally taking care of your whole being.

Discomfort exists for a reason - it primes us for change, gives us the necessary motivation to take reasonable risks, and pesters us until we do so.  The first step is to figure out what change is realistic, and take action.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
It sounds like you are experiencing burnout and have very little, if no job satisfaction.  There are some aspects of this that are in your control and others that are not.  What type of work do you typically enjoy?  Do you enjoy high stress work? What keeps you in this job? Is there a reason you have stayed?  Is your boss reasonable to have a conversation with?  
I recommend a few things.  For one, you may want to have a discussion with your boss about your job duties and see if there is a way to either eliminate some responsibilities or get higher pay.  
Another option, if you are unable to have an open conversation, you can start to look at an ideal work situation, what would you like/ be OK with/ absolutely hate about a job. Then possibly try to look for a new job that fits these qualifications. 
If you are unable to leave your job, you may want to attempt to balance your work life with more activities that create joy outside of work.  Sometimes that balance can help you tolerate work more.  
I recommend that you find a supportive person to talk with and process these frustrations as burnout can lead us to do things we may regret.  
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Recognize your reason for continuing to work for this place.

Sometimes "overworked and underpaid" is tolerable bc of the valuable learning which the person will take with them when they've decided the time has come for these lessons to end.

Or, are you in this place bc it is an easy commute to your home or fits well with other parts of your life such as education or some health related program?

As long as you have a good reason to be there, you will feel there is good purpose.

If there is no good purpose and every day you wake up to work for a place you can't stand, then its time to look for a new position.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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