Thursday, July 12, 2012

Consider Your Career Engagement When Feeling Stressed

In our recent survey on stress management, nearly 61% of respondents reported they were at least somewhat stressed; however, 81% reported they managed their stress either effectively or somewhat effectively. Respondents shared several tips that we compiled into our latest tip sheet – 10 Strategies for Managing Your Stress.   

Any research into stress management is likely to surface similar strategies in addition to ones we didn’t mention in our tip sheet. There is an abundance of literature on reducing and/or minimizing the chance of stressful events as well as coping with and/or surviving through stressful times that are likely to surface, despite our best efforts. If our survey results are any indication, we can all likely do a better job of reducing some of the stress in our lives.

Work, or rather dissatisfaction with work, can be a key stressor for many people. There are many reasons why work can increase the level of stress we experience: from a poor career “fit” (i.e., a job that doesn’t make effective use of our skills and talents / doesn't fit with our personality and/or values) or uncertainty around whether work will exist in the future, to a toxic workplace or difficulty integrating work and family/life responsibilities.

If work is causing you stress, perhaps reflect on your level of Career Engagement. In this model, developed by Life Strategies’ own Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerell, lack of engagement with your career can be the result of too much challenge for the level of capacity, which puts you in the overwhelmed category. In opposition, too little challenge puts you in the underutilized category. Although it may seem like underutilized may be a relaxing place to be, both areas can cause stress as work becomes a daily grind – something to suffer through rather than get excited about.

As you reflect on whether you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed or underutilized, ask yourself if this is a temporary situation and, therefore, something you can tolerate for now, or if this is permanent which may result in a need for you to rethink your career – either in terms of the specific role or position or the organization you’re working for. Remember – managing your career, and therefore your career engagement, is like managing your health, finances, or vehicle. It needs time and attention, the occasional check-up and tune-up.

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