How I dealt with stress in the workplace

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I’ve buried myself in my office job the last couple of weeks trying to hold up a sinking ship.

Myself and another colleague have been playing the role of a manager because we were asked to, just to keep things afloat. The lines of what our job entails have become blurred. We were not hired as managers. We are going beyond our scope of knowledge and skills. Rules are being broken often, particularly by the people we’re cleaning up after. Issues are coming up frequently. The environment is tense.

Our administration management side is fairly laid back and doesn’t interfere with how things are run, because we don’t report to them directly. They run the business. On the research side, you have one or more people you would report to. But when you’re in a position where one of these individuals doesn’t understand that they NEED additional admin support to maintain the increasing volume of tasks and overwhelming problems, it becomes messy. Especially when you’ve spoken to them one on one (as well as your colleague) multiple times and it’s ignored or becomes a joke. Then the situation becomes frustrating. And you start to drag yourself around, feeling burnt out, wondering if you should just stop caring so much about your job and become a mindless robot, or do less and get criticized for it.

The main reason I’ve left jobs in the past is due to management. If they impede my growth or they take advantage of their workers, I won’t look back. I worked my ass off to graduate college, struggle to find a decent paying job to support myself and move up the ladder, because I enjoy progressing and learning new things. Being busy doesn’t scare me, the more skills you have can make you quite valuable and marketable. It’s the way some of these places are run that tick me off. I can adapt up until a point, but if I start forcing myself to make it into work, it’s not worth the stress to me to stay much longer.

No one should ever feel trapped, like they have no say in their worth because managers can keep piling it on without any reasonable incentive. It’s not always about an increase in salary, although that could be one of the perks. I remember one job in particular I enjoyed working with just about everyone there. We all got along, which surprised me, because I had dealt with a lot of cattiness in previous offices. We worked efficiently together and played on each other’s strengths to keep everything running smoothly with minimal supervision. But once there was a change of management and a game of favorites, the whole dynamic fell apart. One by one, we moved on, weeks apart from each other. It can be a pain in the ass to look for another job, when you could do your current job with your eyes closed and enjoy what you do. But if you’re unhappy, sometimes the right step is to move on. Especially if you’re bringing that stress into your personal life.

The corporate world makes me cringe over the “we appreciate you” motto. It’s about what you do for your workers that truly shows your appreciation.

I made the decision to bring this current situation to upper management after debating over it for months. I want to make things work. But I must admit, when I sat down in front of an administrative manager, I wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision in verbalizing my concerns. I couldn’t read her.

All of my documented proof I gripped in my hands, as I searched her face for any ounce of understanding. It worries me when management doesn’t have any idea what the “little people do”, which is what it came down to. How do you explain yourself without feeling like you’re just complaining or possibly conveying you’re not competent enough for this job? She had another meeting to run to afterwards, so on top of my shaken nerves, I felt like I had to rush through.

I felt unsettled in the pit of my stomach but I maintained eye contact. I spoke clearly. And I asked to speak to my manager (I was speaking to her boss since she was out), since I wanted to be sure it was addressed appropriately. The second meeting a few days after was an improvement, I had more time to speak and express my concerns. How this will translate to my direct supervisor and the office issues, I have no idea. But I don’t regret it. I rather address it and see what can be done, then secretly fume over it on a regular basis.

It’s a tricky balance of showing assertiveness but being receptive if things are unable to change the way you would like them to. That’s when you need to make the decision about whether you’re truly OK with that. I’m not at that point to make a decision yet, but there is one thing I do have control over now. My perception.

During these last couple of weeks, I felt I was withdrawing into myself. I didn’t want to share with the world because I was exhausted and annoyed. I’m personally not a fan of using a writing platform to spew out negativity, if there’s not a silver lining somewhere. At least some kind of redeeming factor or lesson buried within the story.

My heart wasn’t invested in my writing and I had to take a step back and re-evaluate my state of mind. I also had to make a conscious decision to take better care of myself. Anxiety reared it’s ugly head and I couldn’t bring myself to interact with anyone. I bounce back and forth between being a hermit/socially awkward and being laid back and welcoming, depending on my moods. This situation made me want to hide altogether.

I would tell people I was fine by default, because I didn’t want to seem like I was failing. Saying I was OK ensured I was playing it safe and wouldn’t need to get into detail. I was neglecting myself. It showed in my energy levels, my complexion, my lack of appetite and feeling crazy all the time. I was completely robbing myself of the things I enjoyed doing. It’s an issue that has come up a couple of times, because there is such a huge amount of pressure to invest all of your energy into your work to survive the costs of this city and maintain what you have. There is no slowing down.

I have a plan to leave this city one day. It is a major goal. But I can’t put in the effort to make that happen if I’m not focused and present on what’s going on right now.

I’ve tweaked my diet to give me the boost of energy I was lacking. That was the easy part.

Looking at things from a different angle takes work, but it prepares you for the calm before the storm.

I won’t allow myself to be a defeatist. The world isn’t over. Keep pushing forward.

Do what you can to preserve your well-being and bring joy into your life.

Find inspiration. Be strong. Take control.

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