Jobs and careers are an important part of our life in NYC and can offer a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, and connection. Even so, work can also be a significant cause of stress with work not only offering a paycheck but influencing one’s sense of identity.
Work stress can involve difficulties with colleagues, lack of structure at work, concerns about being laid off, and challenges with assertiveness, among other issues. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting countless jobs, work stress has only increased for many who are working fewer hours, working remotely, at risk of becoming unemployed, or facing other work disruptions.
Work stress can impact many areas of one’s life and lead to burnout, depression, conflicts in personal relationships, and health complications. In this post, we’ll explain how work stress might impact your life and how to find work-life balance and overcome stress in NYC.
Why Are New York Professionals So Stressed?
Work stress can be defined as harmful physical and emotional responses that workers have when job requirements do not match people’s capabilities, resources, or needs. Both the worker characteristics and the conditions of the workplace impact job stress.
For example, individuals have different coping styles and personalities that may be better suited for different job conditions. Even so, there are work settings with excessive workload demands, interpersonal conflict, job insecurity, limited personal control, and challenges juggling work and personal life are major contributors to stressful workplace dynamics.
Stress experts at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have found that stress is linked to physical and mental health along with decreased willingness to engage in new and creative endeavors.
For 25 to 40% of U.S. workers, job burnout is blamed on stress and has been recognized as a major drain on productivity. Depression, a recognized stress reaction, is responsible for more days lost of work than any other factor as one of the leading occupational diseases of the 21st century.
$300 billion is spent annually in the US on stress-related compensation claims, decreased productivity, direct medical expenses, employee turnover, absenteeism, and other stress-related factors.1 With growing psychological demands and job insecurity, more workers are experiencing the toll of work stress.2
New Yorkers cite job stability and housing costs as sources of stress more often than those across the country. According to the American Psychological Association, 60% of New Yorkers cite job stability as a stressor, well above the 49% national average.
Nearly 87% of New Yorkers say that stress has at least a strong impact on personal health. Many expressed having a difficult time meeting their goals for keeping stress under control. 24% of New Yorkers emphasize that they do not have enough time to change their stressful lifestyles and 17% express that too much effort is needed to make changes.3
Despite the challenging environment in NYC, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the damaging effects of work stress to improve your job satisfaction and wellbeing in and out of the workplace.
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How to Find Work-Life Balance and Overcome Stress in NYC
Know the Symptoms and Triggers
Stress is your body’s way of responding to demands and stressors. Recognizing when you are stressed can help you proactively address these feelings rather than becoming overwhelmed by them. Signs of stress can include irritability, trouble concentrating, stomach problems, headaches and body aches, anger and confusion, sleep problems, fear and anxiety, and loss of appetite.
Paying attention to factors that influence your stress can also help you manage your triggers and responses. Examples of triggers include increased workload, project deadlines, a new position, conflict with coworkers, personal issues interfering with work, financial issues, and change in management. Knowing what is stressful to you can help prepare for stressful situations and reduce their discomfort.
Start Your Day Off Right
Stressful mornings, like gulping down coffee instead of having a healthy breakfast or dodging traffic, can make you more reactive to stress in the workplace. Becoming more intentional about how you start your day and reducing your stress from the beginning of the day can impact how you arrive at work.
It may be beneficial to plan how you start off the day. Integrating habits such as healthy breakfasts, meditation, and positive thoughts into your morning routine can help you better manage stress once you arrive at your workplace.4
Clarify Expectations and Manage Perfectionism
Clarifying your expectations for yourself as well as with your team can help manage levels of work stress. A factor that is known to contribute to job burnout is when expectations of employees are unclear or frequently changing with little notice.
It is important to talk to your team or supervisor to clarify job expectations and discuss strategies for meeting them. Furthermore, it is crucial to establish realistic and fair expectations for yourself. While being a high achiever may feel good, it can also be difficult to complete each task perfectly, especially in a fast-paced job. Striving to do your best under constraints and appreciating your own efforts can help you feel less stressed at work.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Physical discomfort can contribute to work stress but can easily be ignored when one is focusing on tasks. It is important to pay attention to your body while working and notice when you are experiencing discomfort. For example, sitting in an uncomfortable chair on a daily basis can give you a sore back and make you more reactive to stress.
Noise in the work environment can be distracting and influence feelings of frustration. Skipping lunch to work can result in hunger and influence feelings of anger.5 It may be helpful to adjust your environment and take care of your physical needs so that you feel comfortable and grounded in your workplace.
Relax & Release
Breathing and muscle relaxation exercises can help relieve stress.6 These exercises are easy to learn and can be done from the comfort of your own office. For example, belly breathing can be very relaxing. You can put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest. When you take a deep breath in through your nose, let your belly push your hand out.
When you breathe out, feel your belly go in and feel all the air being pushed out. You can notice how you feel at the end of the exercise and try other breathing exercises as well.7 You can add progressive muscle relaxation to your breathing by tensing different muscle groups for a few seconds and completing relaxing them when you breathe out.8
Having a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to feelings of stress. You can fight your work stress by getting some exercise before work, after work, or during your lunch break. Getting exercise can help you release negative emotions, lift your mood, and get into better shape.9 You can also do stretching exercises from your office if it is difficult to go out during the work day.
Stay Present and Enjoy the Moment
When work creates high levels of anxiety, it can be easy to lose track of pleasurable activities in life that help connect us to the present moment. You can think of activities that lift your mood and build them into your day. For example, you could grab lunch and chat with a coworker, catch up with family and friends after work, or pursue a hobby you may have been putting off because of work.
Seek Help from an NYC Therapist
You don’t have to suffer from work stress alone. As we explored in the article, there are many ways to manage work stress to develop a more productive, fulfilling, and balanced life.
Schedule an Appointment with NYBH Today
Our team at New York Behavioral Health uses various approaches to support clients in overcoming their work stress and enjoying their lives more. New York Behavioral Health therapists will guide you through your healing process utilizing approaches and exercises customized for you. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like more information. You can also schedule an appointment right here on our website.