If your job is making you very stressed, then you may be tempted to just brush the feeling under the rug and 'get on with it'. Many of us assume that stress is a normal part of any day job, and so accept it rather than trying to do something about it.
In reality though, if you are feeling very stressed then no matter what the reason, this is something that you should address. Stress is a serious issue and can lead to illness and psychological problems as well as preventing you from enjoying your day to day activities. Apart from anything else, it simply isn't worth being stressed on such a regular basis – what's the point of earning that money if you're too stressed and upset to enjoy it?
Obviously it's not as straightforward as all that – we work because it's our responsibility to provide for our families, and because we wouldn't have a roof over our heads if we didn't. So the question is, how can you go about improving your situation while still earning a living and not burning your bridges?
Speak With People
The first thing to do is to speak to people about your workplace stress. This means speaking with your friends and family for instance who may have advice on how you could address the problem, but it also means speaking to your colleagues and your work supervisors. The sooner you say something the better in these situations, as waiting will only mean that the issue is more serious by the time anyone hears about it and makes it seem as though it has come out of the blue.
Most important of all is to tell your managers and to ask for help. You might find they can lessen your workload, or get someone else to come and help you around the office. If they don't know, then you're not giving them a fair chance to help. You'll find that you tend to get more positive results from this if you go to your management with a straightforward request as to how you could lessen your workplace stress rather than just vaguely asking for help. For instance, try asking if you could maybe be moved to another department, or if you could lessen your workload slightly/work from home one day a week. If you put forward a simple solution, and your management is relatively forward thinking, then you should find they're happy to be a bit flexible in order to keep you working at your optimum output.
Another strategy you might want to take is to see if any of your colleagues are experiencing the same stresses and consider going to your superiors together with a petition or just as a group. This way you will be able to put forth a more powerful argument by showing that it's not just you who is struggling to keep up, but rather a fundamental mental issue with the way things are run that is affecting everyone.
Put it in Writing
If you have tried speaking to your management to no avail, then it's time to try a more formal approach. Write a letter to your superiors describing your problem and asking for help. Don't point fingers, but just state plainly that the workload is too much for you, that you're struggling with your hours, or that your environment isn't conducive to good work – whatever it is that's causing the problem.
There are two reasons for doing this. Not only will a letter be harder to ignore, but it will also help to create a record of your issues. This way, if you end up being forced to leave or look elsewhere, then you will have proof that you tried to ask for help first.
Take Some Time Off
Sometimes all you really need to start finding your job more enjoyable again is a little time off, and many of us will find we start to struggle toward the end of the summer if we haven't had a chance to get a real break. Even if you can't afford to go on a lavish holiday somewhere sunny, you should at least take a few days off to enjoy a weekend break or something similar – you'll find that the time to get your head together can really help. If you have used up all of your leave and you can't get the time off work, then you should go and speak to your doctor – you might find that they're able to get you the time off you need to recuperate. Doctors recognize the severity of work related stress, and they may be able to recommend other coping strategies too.
If you are experiencing a lot of stress at work then it won't always be to do with your workload. Sometimes you'll find that it's more to do with the way you're thinking about your workload, or the way that you're accomplishing your tasks.
For instance, if you are just highly conscientious and want to do the best possible job, then you might find that this causes undue anxiety and actually ends up making you work less effectively ironically. Using therapy or cognitive restructuring techniques you can lessen this stress by just reminding yourself that 'you've done the best you can – that's all you can do' or that 'if I don't complete the work on time they'll just know to set me a little less next time'. Don't put unrealistic expectations on yourself, and keep perspective regarding how much you need to complete and to what standard.
Meanwhile by looking at the way you're working you might find that you can accomplish more and feel more on top of your tasks. This might mean increasing your focus, re-organizing your workload or even delegating some of your tasks. There are plenty of great books out there on optimizing your working habits and saving time in the office, and any of these might help you to handle your work with more confidence.
If all this fails and you are still finding yourself incredibly stressed then it may be time to simply consider a new career. Many people will feel 'trapped' in the jobs they're in and unable to leave, but looking for work doesn't necessarily have to mean quitting your current job. If you are stressed at work then you can start looking for new work in your spare time – and actually you might find that the simple fact you're looking gives you a light at the end of the tunnel and helps to make your situation feel a little less desperate.