From a calendar that’s overflowing with unnecessary meetings to deadlines that continue to pile, it’s difficult to manage all responsibilities and keep a level head. That’s likely why it’s no surprise that according to a recent survey, 58% of people felt stressed more than half the time they were at work. But apart from the day-to-day triggers, every professional also experiences periods where they feel like they can’t catch a break.
These high-stakes, high-anxiety times are usually due to an incompatible office environment or pressures in your personal and social life that bleed into your work. Whatever the reason, navigating these seasons with a calm attitude and a heightened dedication to problem-solving will help you push forward.
Here, career experts detail the most stressful moments you might encounter throughout your trajectory:
Having a bad boss
Especially if this isn’t your first rodeo, you know how much of a difference your manager makes in your performance, your success and your overall level of content. As career and branding expert Wendi Weiner, Esq. explains, when your boss is overbearing, dismissive, passive-aggressive or flat out rude, it transforms an otherwise healthy environment into one that’s ripe with tension. When this happens, you not only dread your morning commute but you’re usually sharp brilliance tends to wane.
“You begin to doubt yourself, your skills, and even the potential for happiness at the office,” she explains. You might want to put in your pink slip but Weiner encourages a pause: “We spend a great deal of time at work — but don’t jump ship based on emotions of how you feel about your boss, your coworkers, or even the company’s culture,” she advises. “I recommend making a list that identifies the challenges you are facing and solutions to address those challenges.”
Getting a bad review
You may or may not be part of the ‘gold star’ generation, but everyone would prefer to receive a rave review, right? After all, criticism — constructive or not — can be difficult to stomach, especially if you weren’t expecting negative remarks from your boss or your peers. Career coach and author Heather Monahan says that while you might be tempted to argue or get upset, in this situation, it’s better to let your head take the lead over your heart.
“Don’t spend your time apologizing. Instead shift to actionable steps you can take to improve is where you will want to focus,” she explains. “Ask great questions and get expectations in writing to empower you to improve your review. Be bold and ask for a 30-day updated review to ensure you are on the right track and making the necessary adjustment.”
Not making enough money
Do you remember your fresh-out-of-college salary? Begrudgingly, yes — right? While these days you’re not sure how you managed to get by (or eat as much cheap pasta as you did), even when you’re further your career, the dollar signs don’t always align. You might feel this more after having a baby, taking on an investment property, sending said-baby to college or becoming the primary caretaker of an aging parent.
Whatever the reason, you could find yourself struggling to budget and flourish. Weiner says when you’re feeling less than lucrative, put yourself in action mode. By creating a plan with your current company to rise up the tax brackets or creating an additional source of income, you place yourself in better financial standing. “Consider other avenues for making money—perhaps you need to take on a side hustle to improve your cash flow or re-work your expenses. Look beyond the current salary you are being given, but also stay updated on salary ranges for your current career path to remain competitive,” she advises.
Starting a family
While arguably, carrying a child, giving birth and readjusting from pregnancy hormones is far more of a strain on a woman than a man, starting a family is stressful for everyone. Not only are both partners faced with the sudden, dramatic transformation in their social life, relationship and sleep rhythms, but what used to feel important at the office might feel trivial in comparison now that they’re a parent.
Monahan says lack of rest and an abundance of emotions may make you doubt yourself and your talents, as you become hyper-focused on taking care of your newborn. This is when professionals must set boundaries to keep stress levels — and guilt — at a minimum. In other words? Practice for those terrible twos by exercising the word ‘no’. “You need to clearly and effectively communicate how the baby has changed your schedule and needs, so you can have a smooth of a transition as possible,” she says.
Maybe your company downsized or eliminated your position. Perhaps you took a leap of faith on an entrepreneurial endeavor that left you demystified. Or you were laid off for coming up shy on your goals. Whatever the reason, finding yourself unemployed can be a scary and anxiety-inducing experience. While everyone needs a weekend to wallow and nurse their pride, once Monday morning rolls around, Weiner says it’s time to wipe your brow and begin networking.
“Remember, it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Look to local professional networking events through your city calendar, professional organizations, and even ones that are industry-specific. Ramp up your LinkedIn profile and start building a network of new connections and don’t be afraid to ask for in-person meetings,” she advises.
The key is to remain diligent, confident and proactive, so you don’t spend too much time blowing through your savings. The more you doubt yourself, the more you’ll struggle to rebuild — and transform — your life. As Weiner calls it, let this be a time when your career is awakened — and you’re ready to tackle whatever else comes next.