New Study Says Most American Workers Are Stressed and Strained

August 30, 2017

Feeling frazzled and fried? You aren’t alone. In a new survey, scientists found that the American workplace is typically a physically and emotionally draining place with workers frequently facing unstable work schedules, unpleasant and unsafe conditions and an often hostile social climate. Many participants also reported that the intensity of their work frequently spills on over into their personal lives.

Shockingly, more than half of American workers reported exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous surroundings. Younger female employees were the most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention at work, while younger men were more likely to experience verbal abuse.

One silver lining: Four out of five American workers reported that their job provides “meaning” always or most of the time.

The findings, which were derived from research done by scientists at Harvard Medical School and UCLA among others, date the survey as one of the most in-depth workplace investigations ever done.

So, what can one do? Strive to find your own formula for success and happiness, suggests Courtney B. Johnson, a neuropsychologist at Indiana University Health. “When people feel powerless, they become unhappy. So try to find a way to take back some control. For some folks, that’s asking for more responsibility on the job, more purpose and perceived appreciation in the workplace.”

Not an option for you? “Then take some time to think about where your values lie. Identify where the conflicts in your job are and then try to make some small tweaks to make things more manageable, recognizing that you may not be able to exert total control,” says Dr. Johnson.

Seeking out happiness in areas outside of one’s job can also be advantageous. “Think bigger picture. We often put our energy and efforts into things we simply can’t change,” explains Dr. Johnson. “Sometimes you just have to accept certain circumstances and place your focus on other things.”

Other strategies for surviving work struggles? “If you can, take breaks during the day. Get up and step outside for some fresh air, even if it’s just for five minutes. Do it to reset yourself,” suggests Dr. Johnson. “You can also try setting small realistic goals for yourself each week to experience more of a sense of control and mastery when you get things done. Stopping to occasionally socialize with a coworker can also feel very supportive and create more of a feeling of comradery in the workplace. These little things can add up to make a big difference.”

-- By Sarah Burns

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