At the workplace, anxiety and stress may come in many forms: meeting tight deadlines, juggling work-life balance, dealing with office gossip and politics and meeting your boss’ expectations, just to list a few.
Over time, the pressure builds up but still, you persevere and push on every single day because much is at stake: income, recognition, promotion and often, self-worth.
“Culturally, Singaporeans tend to be hard on themselves, and have expectations that they are meant to be consistent, productive and psychologically resilient at all times,” said Dr Tracie Lazaroo, a clinical psychologist at Inner Light, a centre that provides clinical psychology and therapy services in Singapore.
“They may interpret any stress-related symptoms as a sign of weakness and internalise it as them being incompetent in some way.”
Recognising the signs
Feeling a little stressed is normal. The danger is when the stress exceeds your ability to cope with it. This is when it stops being beneficial and begins causing mental and physical health issues that, in turn, affect your work performance and personal life.
According to Dr Tracie, people often do notice stress symptoms, such as having difficulty winding down after a long workday, sleep issues, gut inflammation, tension, and so forth. However, they may not necessarily attribute this to work, which has detrimental effects on their health.
Stress and anxiety occur at every career stage
While career-related anxiety and stress are often more commonly discussed about employed persons, it encompasses a wider spectrum. People experience anxiety and stress at every stage of their careers.
Even before an individual is gainfully employed, anxiety and stress are felt during the job searching phase. Going for rounds of interviews to meet and impress prospective employers, and then waiting for the call after, takes a toll on a person’s mental health.
“This fear of the unknown can manifest in the fears of inadequacy, fear of rejection, fears of making the wrong decision, fears of financial insecurity and fears of not being able to manage the logistical changes that may come about in the future. Stress can manifest physically and, or psychosocially,” said Dr Tracie.
Here are some of the anxieties and emotions that you might experience at different stages of your career.
How can we overcome anxiety and stress?
It is impossible to control everything in your career, but that does not mean that you cannot do anything to improve your situation. If career-related anxiety and stress are affecting your life, it is time to act.
The ideal way to cope with career stress is to take strategic steps to confront or to resolve the root cause, like speaking to your boss about the overwhelming workload, shared Dr Tracie.
“However, people may sometimes resort to maladaptive coping strategies such as engaging in emotional eating or scrolling through social media as a form of distraction or dissociation from the problem,” she explained.
“Maladaptive coping can be insidious and not immediately obvious that it is doing more harm than good.”
If you are currently showing signs of career-related anxiety and stress, but are unsure how to deal with them, it is best to seek professional help like speaking to a career coach.
Here is a list of relevant articles compiled on the various stages of workplace stress. Do read them to help you bounce back and feel more positive soon!
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