Working for the federal government can be stressful at the best of times, and especially anxiety-inducing in volatile times. If you’re feeling stressed on the job, you’re not alone.
A recent report investigated the causes of career-related stress. The top culprits include factors such as work travel, physical demands, interacting with the public, working in the public eye, risk of injury, and deadlines. While these can be found in many careers, many federal employees may experience multiple stressors on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, enlisted military personnel and law enforcement were among the top five most stressful careers.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage work-related stress. These tips will help you keep your cool while remaining productive — and positive — on the job.
Get Some Sleep
Studies indicate that adults who sleep less than eight hours per night experience higher levels of stress and are more likely to feel irritation, anger, impatience and overwhelmed. In a cruel cycle, increased stress can then prevent restful, quality sleep, which exacerbates the problem.
While getting more sleep can feel like an elusive dream, the National Sleep Foundation offers tips to increase both the amount and quality of ZZZs.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Create a relaxing before-bed ritual
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid napping during the day
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
Shift the Conversation
If you work in a negative environment, it’s easy to fall into patterns that up your stress level. Engaging in daily complaining sessions with colleagues around the office water cooler may make you feel better temporarily. However, a consistent negative focus will only add to your stress in the long run.
The next time those around you start bellyaching, try something different. Don’t add to the litany of complaints; instead, bring up something positive. It doesn’t have to be work-related; maybe your sports team won last night or the weather this weekend is forecast to be perfect. The key is to shift the conversation away from the negative and toward the positive. If this doesn’t work, simply disengage and walk away instead of joining in. Once you break the habit, you won’t miss the constant negativity.
Practice Time Management
The feeling of not having enough minutes in the day to accomplish everything on your list can exacerbate workplace stress. When you’re bombarded by demands from all directions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Practicing time management skills can help.
Introducing the following time management tips into your routine will help you get a handle on your to-do list and reduce your anxiety level:
- Start the day by focusing on the highest priority tasks
- Make an agenda with flexibility built in and stick to it
- Review your calendar nightly
- Say no to requests that don’t align with your priorities
- Ask for help when you need it
Ensure You’re Covered
One of the best ways of reducing work-related stress in this field knowing you’re covered by the right insurance policy. In today’s litigious society, the threat of being sued or accused is very real. The stories are all too common: a federal employee is accused of misconduct while on the job, then ends up draining their bank account defending themselves during an investigation or in court. Getting Insurance protection from potential complaints and allegations just makes sense and will significantly decrease your risk of facing financial ruin.
Take Ownership of Your Happiness
When you work for the federal government, you may feel like you don’t have control over the system and often, this is the case. But if you often find yourself feeling frustrated about situations that are out of your control, consider that you might be adding to your own stress level. When you allow your supervisor, your colleagues or your work environment to affect your emotional state, you’re actually limiting yourself.
Instead, make a conscious decision to take ownership of your own success and your own happiness. Don’t let outside factors — your workload, your direct reports, your boss — determine your job satisfaction. You may not have control over these things, but you do have control over how you react to them. Instead of reacting with resignation or frustration, ask yourself how you can take steps to transform the situation into what you want it to be. Determine what needs to change in order for you to be happy, productive and satisfied at work, and actively work toward making those changes.
Prioritizing your own mental health and well-being can help you overcome workplace stress. When you feel anxiety kicking in, take a few minutes to stop and breathe deeply. Take a short walk outside the office, visit the gym for a lunchtime workout, or even simply play relaxing music over your headphones. Taking the time to take care of yourself is key to remaining positive and productive at work, even when the situation gets stressful.
Article sponsored by Starr Wright USA.
Starr Wright USA a marketing name for Starr Wright Insurance Agency, Inc. and its affiliate(s). Starr Wright USA is an insurance agency specializing in insurance solutions for federal employees and federal contractors. For more information, visit WrightUSA.com. Starr Wright USA is a division of Starr Insurance Companies, which is a marketing name for the operating insurance and travel assistance companies and subsidiaries of Starr International Company, Inc. and for the investment business of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc.