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Whether it’s low pay, a heavy workload, fear of being laid off or simply that annoying co-worker in the cube next to you, there’s a variety of reasons why you might feel stressed at work. If you think of yourself as someone who’s consistently stressed at work, it’s important to know that you’re not alone, and there are things you can do to reduce the stress of your job.
Workplace stress is common in America, as a recent survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College found that 73 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing at work. Reasons for workplace stress varied, from lacking opportunities for advancement, working a job outside of your chosen career, long commutes and poor work-life balance.
While reasons for workplace stress vary, the most important thing you can do is take control of your career, says John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College. “It’s easy to get stressed if you’re working a job you weren’t particularly excited about in the first place,” said Swartz.
Swartz offers the following tips for taking control of your career, which in turn should help reduce the amount of stress you face at work:
• Stay on top of current trends in your field. One of the best ways to improve your situation at work is to give yourself room to grow by becoming an expert in your field. Employees who demonstrate the ability to adapt and learn are a valuable commodity, which will help ensure your advancement at your current place of employment or elsewhere.
• Learn practical skills. Don’t wait to be asked by your boss to learn something now. Seek out ways you can increase your value within your company. While it may seem like a lot of work at the time, acquiring more skills will open more doors for you in the long run.
• If necessary, increase your level of education. If you’re having trouble getting the job you want because you don’t have the required amount of education, it’s time to think about going back to school. If you’re not happy at your job, it will be worth the sacrifice to get a degree that puts you in a better position to succeed.
• Choose a career in a field where growth is projected, if possible. If you are exploring going back to school, it makes sense to first take a look at the job prospects in the fields you are considering. Recent projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics note that health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction are projected to have the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020.
Finding a college that’s focused on providing the necessary practical skills specific to your career is also important, especially if you’ve already been to school and received a broad education in the liberal arts. Your college of choice should also help you tailor your training to areas within your chosen field that are expected to see growth.
“All government labor projections continue to show that health care is and will continue to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S.,” said Swartz.
The best way to avoid workplace stress is to put yourself in a position to get the types of job that you know you’ll enjoy.