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10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work

10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work

Workplace stress can sometimes go undetected, because you’re so busy trying to keep on top of tasks that you’ve no time to stop and look at the impact of work pressure and whether or not you’re coping with it. This article can help you track your stress levels. If you’re suffering from a lot of symptoms, consider making changes so you can avoid complete burnout.

1. Unexplained Aches and Pains

Working in an uncomfortable chair or at a desk that’s the wrong height can cause your body to become achy. But if you’re suffering from aches and pains that can’t be explained by poor ergonomics, it may be that you’re under too much pressure. According to Dr Gabor Mate, author of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, stress causes many more physical symptoms than we realize. Unexplained pain can be a signal from the body to alert you to the fact that you’re over-taxing yourself.

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2. Altered Appetite

If you often skip lunch because you don’t feel hungry, that could be a sign that you’re feeling the strain. When you’re having to deal with other pressures, your priorities change and eating may feel less important to your body than dealing with current work stressors. Alternatively, if you’re stuffing your face in the work canteen every day, you may be comfort eating to deal with stress. Which you do depends on your personality, but a change in appetite is a common sign of stress.

3. Sleep Struggles

If you’re struggling to get into work on time, because either you overslept or are over-tired from lying awake all night, then you may be under too much pressure at work. Changes in sleep patterns are another of those things that can go to either extreme. Your body may feel it needs more rest to gather energy to deal with stressors or you may be kept awake by your worry thoughts. It will depend on the personality and your situation, but a different sleep pattern can indicate you’re under too much pressure.

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4. Feeling Lonely

Your office may be full of your colleagues as usual, and yet you feel like the loneliest person in the world. Stress can make you feel isolated and cut off from other people, especially if you’re the sort of person who takes pressure personally. It’s as if stressors are following you like a little black cloud and no-one else could possibly understand how you feel. John Cacioppo, a professor of psychology, and author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, points out that feeling unrewarded can lead to feelings of loneliness. Perhaps, when you’re under pressure, the imbalance between the amount of effort you put into work and the amount of reward you feel to get back causes workplace loneliness.

5. Constant Colds

When your body is under too much pressure, your immune system can become compromised. When all your resources need to go towards sorting out things at work, the body does not have enough energy left to protect itself from illness. If you seem to always have the sniffles lately, when you’re usually in good health, take a look at your workload and see if you’re doing too much.

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6. Getting Sweaty

Are you constantly needing to ‘freshen up’ at work because you’re feeling a bit sweaty? Sweating a lot when the temperature doesn’t warrant it can show that you’re suffering from stress. The reason why work pressure may cause you to sweat is that external stressors can activate the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This causes a surge of adrenaline, which, in turn, makes you sweat. Researchers are still not clear on why this is, but seem to be leaning towards the idea that the smell produced by sweat could be a signal to others that there is danger around. A study carried out by Stony Brook University and published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in 2011, revealed that found that people who were exposed to another person’s stress sweat became more alert.

7. Procrastinating

Believe it or not, procrastination is more often a sign of anxiety than it is of laziness. Anyone who has seen a rabbit caught in headlights knows the rabbit is not simply not bothering to move. As well as ‘fight or flight’, extreme pressure can also cause a ‘freeze response’, which means you simply don’t know exactly what to do next, so staying still seems like the most sensible option. If you’re finding that you have lots of tasks at work but can’t seem to start any, you may be ‘freezing’ under too much pressure.

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8. Being Snappy

If you have an uncharacteristically short fuse, you’re probably suffering from too much pressure. Agitation can build up inside without us realizing, and suddenly we find we’ve bitten the head off a co-worker for no real reason. If you look back at your day, you’ll probably notice how the pressure has been building from one stressor to the next, like a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

9. Anxious Thoughts

There are several categories of anxious thoughts that seem to arise when we’re stressed out. These can range from ‘worst scenario thinking’, like presuming you’ll lose your job if you don’t get a work report right, to ‘mind reading’, eg. automatically assuming that your boss will hate your latest presentation even though you have no real evidence. If you look at your anxious thoughts and they seem really unrealistic, they are probably a response to extreme pressure at work.

10. Light-headedness

Although dizziness can be caused by all sorts of things, it is often an overlooked symptom of workplace stress. If you think about the way the body works, when you’re stressed out, the fight or flight response causes us to breathe more shallowly, and our heart to speed up, preparing us to run away or enter combat. Breathing too quickly causes the arteries to contract, so less blood reaches the brain, and this can cause a feeling of light-headedness. If you’re constantly having to sit down at work or grab onto the photocopier because you’re feeling dizzy, this could be a sign of workplace stress.

NB. Before putting any of these symptoms purely down to stress, note that other illnesses can sometimes share these symptoms. While you are looking at ways of managing pressure better, please also get a physical health check.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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