For many of us, work is synonymous with identity. It’s the reason we answer the question “What do you do?” not with stories about household duties or hobbies, but with a succinct statement of how we earn money. Your life is so much more than work, but when work stress becomes overwhelming, it’s easy to feel like work is all that matters. And if you’re anything like most people, your work stress bleeds substantially into your personal life, making it feel impossible to ever get a break.
If career issues feel like they’re ruining your life, or if you’re not sure how to manage the increasing stress of a demanding career, Three Seas can help. We offer career counselling and help with financial stress, as well as therapy to help you strike a healthy balance between work and the rest of your life. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to manage your stress.
Work Smarter, Not More
Many of us buy into the myth that we need to work long hours to be good workers. But research consistently shows that people waste much of the time they spend at the office. Focus on productivity, not face time. Control meetings so that they are productive, not meandering wastes. In so doing, you’ll reduce your stress, and may even get to go home early.
Set Clear Boundaries
You need clear boundaries between work and your life, so decide what they are going to be. Then remember, boundaries are for you—not other people. If you don’t defend your boundaries, no one else will. So when your boss calls you at 10 in the morning on a Saturday, remind him you don’t work weekends and don’t take the call. Opt for employee assistance program if your company has one.
Don’t Take Work Home
To maintain a clear boundary between work and home, do your work at the office. When you go home, commit to being done for the day. If you work from home, confine your work to one room of the house, and leave when you’re done—not before. Then turn off your phone, stop checking your email, and commit your time to your family. Work takes up so much of our lives that it’s tempting to make it an omnipresent part of existence, but this is a recipe for pure misery. Leave work at work, and don’t spend every evening at home endlessly rehashing the work day.
Outsource What You Can
Every job varies in the extent to which you can outsource things, but almost everyone can outsource something. From paying a content manager to write your practice’s blog to ask your secretary to mail things for you, outsourcing can help you focus on the work that only you can do. It’s easy to get so controlling that you don’t want anyone else to do anything for you, but this is a quick path to misery. Outsource the simple stuff so that you can focus on what really matters.
Don’t Make Work Your Identity
From childhood, many of us hear that we need to love what we do and be passionate about our work. That’s a fantasy—and a narcissistic one at that. It’s great if you’re lucky enough to find a career you love, but most people hate their jobs sometimes. And to get work you love, you often have to do work you hate. Don’t buy into the lie that you need to derive your identity from your job. Work is just one part of your life, and your identity may come from something else—being a parent, your garden, or your volunteer work, for example.