No matter what you do or where you work, there will be difficult days. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with stress every day of your work life. You may not be the type of person who complains about everything. And given the fact that many people cannot find work or they don’t earn enough to fully support themselves, you might feel guilty complaining about your job. You might be grateful to be employed, and if you earn a nice salary, you might think bad days are a fair trade-off.
It’s important to understand that long-term anxiety can have a tremendous impact on your health. It increases the risk of heart disease, and you might have other problems like constipation or chronic pain. Even if you know the physical effects of stress, it can be hard to know whether your job is too stressful.
Here are nine signs that your job is becoming too much to handle.
1. You Can't Sleep at Night
The occasional sleepless night because of work is nothing to be overly concerned about. A fight with your boss or a coworker can weigh heavily on your mind and disrupt sleep, or you might have problems sleeping because of a looming deadline. On the other hand, your job might be too much to handle if you’re unable to sleep every night because you’re thinking about work.
When you lie in bed at night, this is your time to unwind and rest for the next day. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, this can add to your stress level. You can become anxious as each hour passes. And if you’re exhausted the next day, this increases the likelihood of careless mistakes at work or slow productivity, which can cause you to get behind schedule and add to your worries.
Creating a comfortable sleep environment and routine can encourage rest and sleep at night. For example, if you bring work home, make sure you stop working at least a couple of hours before bed. This gives your mind time to unwind and calm down before getting in the bed. Listening to soothing music before bed or a warm bath also promotes relaxation.
2. You're Dreaming About Work
Then again, maybe lack of sleep isn’t the problem. You might put your head on the pillow every night and fall asleep within a couple of minutes. But even if you’re able to sleep at night, what are you dreaming about? Are all your dreams about work and the issues you deal with during the day?
Our dreams typically reflect what’s on our minds. If every dream involves your boss and your coworkers, or if you’re reliving unpleasant situations, it might be time to rethink your work. Can you start looking for another job in the same field? Sometimes, switching employers can make a huge difference. Maybe your current employer is short-staffed and doesn’t want to hire anyone new. As a result, everyone in the office is on edge and working too many hours. If you were to work for a different company, it might be a completely different experience.
3. You Think You're Having a Heart Attack
If your heart is racing and your chest hurts, it can feel like you’re having a heart attack, but you’re not. A demanding job can cause increased anxiety and nervousness, which can lead to a panic attack. Typically, panic attacks occur when you feel overwhelmed, or think your situation is hopeless and there’s no way out.
A single panic attack may not indicate it’s time to look for another job. It might be an isolated case due to a short-lived stressful experience. On the other hand, panicking all the time isn’t good for your mental or physical health.
Keep a diary and record each panic attack to try and pinpoint the root cause. Maybe it’s not your job per se, but rather a specific assignment that increases your blood pressure and anxiety level. Talk to your boss about making adjustments to your workload, and speak with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend antianxiety medications or techniques to help you relax and cope with your job.
4. You're Always Angry and Irritable
A demanding job can also affect your mood and how you deal with people. Maybe you’re normally a happy, optimistic person. But because of increased responsibilities and the demanding nature of your job, your personality takes a turn for the worse. You might become easily irritated with your coworkers and employees. Issues that usually roll off your shoulders send you into an irate state of mind. However, it’s not only your coworkers or employees who feel the brunt of your frustration. You also take your anger out on your loved ones and friends.
You may not notice a personality change in yourself, so ask others if they’ve noticed a shift in your mood and happiness level. Even if you’re unable to quit and look for another job right away, you can cope with frustrations. It all goes back to pinpointing the root of stress. Make sure you take enough breaks at work and don’t skip lunch. Also, take advantage of personal time off to clear your head.
5. You Get Sick to Your Stomach on Sundays
You might be on an emotional high on Friday afternoons and all day Saturday. But as soon as Sunday evening rolls around, and you realize you have to be back in the office in 12 hours, you get physically sick. Granted, many people don’t look forward to a new work week. However, most of us can suck it up and start preparing for the week. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come easy for everyone. The idea of another taxing and difficult work week causes stomach pain, nausea, and your good mood may fly out the window. You have a decision to make. You can either continue to feel this way every week, or you can begin the search for a new job.
6. You Have Unexplained Headaches
If you don’t eat enough or if you’re dealing with allergies, this can provide an explanation for headaches. But if you’re having more and more headaches and you can’t pinpoint the cause, the problem might be your job. There are several explanations for a work-related headache. Maybe you’re experiencing a headache due to eyestrain or muscle tension from sitting in a chair all day long. Or maybe you’re experiencing headaches from worrying and being anxious about your work environment. Drinking caffeine or taking over-the-counter medications may provide temporary relief, but the headache may return. And, unfortunately, you can’t continue at this pace.
7. You're Working Around the Clock
A couple days of working around the clock in order to catch up isn’t a reason to run for the hills. But if your work/life balance has been suffering for some time now, to the point that you never spend time with family and it feels like you’re always in work mode, your job is starting to get the best of you. You might not be able to quit immediately, but you can start plotting your next move and looking for better opportunities. Do you want to remain in the same field but work for a different company, or do you want to transition into a completely new field? What will it take to make the transition happen? For any job you seek, make sure you’re able to have a healthier balance, or else you’ll find yourself in a similar situation in just a few months.
8. Your Job Affects Your Mental Health
Not only can stress affect your physical health, it can affect your mental health, too. If your job is overly demanding, you may beat yourself up and feel that you’re missing the mark. You can feel useless and trapped, and you might even develop some depression problems which completely rob you of any enjoyment and happiness. You’re not a robot. If you’re giving your all to the job, but it isn’t enough, maybe the problem isn’t you. In reality, it might require two or three people to complete all your assignments, yet you’re tackling the workload alone.
9. You Take Too Many Sick Days
An exhausting and weighty job can also result in more sick days. Sometimes, you take a sick day because you’re overwhelmed mentally and you need a break in order to maintain your sanity. And, sometimes, you take sick days because you’re legitimately feeling under the weather because your mental and physical state is in a tailspin. If you work nonstop and forget to eat, this can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illnesses.
See Also: How to Talk to Your Boss About Stress
We all have to work to support ourselves, but this doesn’t mean we should let stress get the best of us. If a job starts to impact your emotional, physical and mental health, or if you find yourself on the brink of a breakdown, get out before you lose it altogether.
How have you dealt with stress at work? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!