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How To Manage Stress from Short-Term, High-Pressure Jobs

How To Manage Stress from Short-Term, High-Pressure Jobs

Most of us will work from 9 to 5, perhaps in a fancy office with great perks like free lunches. However, the labor market has changed a lot since the industrial revolution; and many – if not most – people are now working in short-term, high-pressure jobs.

These are divers, freelancers, healthcare professionals, pilots, and consultants to name just a few. They may not be stuck in a cubicle for five days a week, but they usually deal with a lot of pressure due to the time-bound nature of their occupation.

The beauty of a short-term job is that you get longer breaks.

For instance: a saturation diver normally works in a high-stress environment for about a month installing underwater gas or oil wells. But he or she has the luxury of two months off after a certain project is done. This is great if you want a long vacation or more personal time.

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If you or someone you know is currently working in a short-term, high-pressure job, here are a couple of tips from experienced folks on how to manage stress.

1 Get as Much Rest During Your Time-Off

For more than 20 years, saturation diver, Sam Archer, has worked for six hours in the pitch black sea, resting for at least a month or two, before going back to work underwater. The pay is good – but the dangers are real. Divers are known to die while on the job, and Archer has lost some great comrades due to the hazardous nature of the occupation. The work itself is pretty routine and tiring; but for someone who loves the deep blue sea, nothing could be as thrilling or as rewarding.

So how does one cope with the stress of working underwater? During workdays, he relaxes while watching his favorite TV series or he reads. He also stresses on tolerance and how getting along with colleagues is very important. On his time-off, Archer spends quality time with his loved ones and immersing himself in his hobbies.

Short-term, high-pressure jobs can drain even the healthiest amongst us. The trick is using days off to recharge and unwind. Whether you have three days or one month to spare, make sure to spend every minute on stuff you enjoy.

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2 Plan How To Balance Your Life

Work-life balance is NOT a myth. However, unless you deliberately plan for it, it’s not going to happen. People with high-stress jobs manage to remain productive and still fulfill private roles because they make the necessary changes to ensure they can effectively juggle their work and personal life.

A&E (accident and emergency) consultant, Dr. Simon Eccles, understands that most stress comes from things we cannot control. In his job, remaining calm even while under pressure is a must. But seeing patients suffer or having to tell a person’s family the bad news is never easy. So Eccles decided to make a drastic decision to help him cope with the rigorous demands of his career: he changed hospitals.

Now, although the job can be long and demanding, Eccles found it easier to deal with everyday stressors because it only takes 12 minutes for him to get home. This has also helped him spend more time with his family.

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3 Get In The Zone

Burn nurse Melanie McMahon has a special job. In a hospital’s tank room, she quietly treats burn victims, adults and children alike. She scrapes away charred tissue, debrides swollen blisters, administers pain medication, and wraps bandages around bloody flesh. It may seem discomforting to most, and McMahon admits that not a lot of people can do what she does for a living – but it’s something she loves.

So how does one cope with graphical images everyday, not to mention the emotional toll it’s going to take? McMahon says she simply treats her patients and avoids thinking about their situation. She gets “in the zone”, so to speak. This has helped her remain calm, while providing the needed care to patients and their family. Most of all, she stresses how much she enjoys her job.

When you like what you do, no matter the stress, you will find ways to deal with it so you continue to be productive. Focusing on your current task should keep stress under control; just until you can get home to relax.

Conclusion

In high-pressure jobs, things can always go wrong – but HOW you react to them is critical.

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If a colleague annoys you, you don’t always have to retort with a snarky remark. You can simply walk away. If you missed a deadline, there’s no use fussing over spilled milk. It happens. What you can do now is learn from this mistake so it doesn’t repeat itself.

Be deliberate in wanting to stay in control of your job and your emotions.

One of the most valuable skills you need in any modern workplace is the ability to determine what you’re feeling at the moment. If something seems too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid to step outside. Take mini-breaks or pause in the middle of a decision. That tiny step might just be what you need to manage stress.

Featured photo credit: MasimbaTinasheMadondo via pixabay.com

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Cris Antonio

Content Strategist, Storyteller

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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