Washington, DC is a busy place. People here work hard. They work long hours, and they’re rarely completely “off the clock” — walk into any DC-area bar or hang out at any DC-area restaurant, and you’re sure to overhear policy discussions, business conversations, and governmental wrangling. Our streets are full of K Street businesspeople, impassioned nonprofit crusaders, and harried congressional aides. Everywhere you look, hard-working people are rushing around and trying to get things done for the betterment of our city, region, and country.
That’s great news for people who thrive on building their careers, but it’s also a pretty stressful and untenable thing. We’re committed to what we do, but who among us doesn’t get a little nervous when they see other people — people who may have the same career dreams as us — hustling around (and perhaps out-hustling us)? Who among us doesn’t worry that we’ve chosen the wrong job or offended the wrong person, impressed the wrong people or taken too little money? Careers can be stressful, and in a city like Washington, DC, they have extra high stakes, doubling the pressure and distress we can experience.
“Your career is important,
but so is your health.
If you care for your body, your
stress levels will drop — even in
a place as hectic as DC!”
Your career is important, but so is your health. And given how incredibly unhealthy stress is, you may want to consider cutting down on the career-related stress that you deal with here in DC. How can you do it? Here are a few ideas:
Counseling and therapy
Making the right decisions in your career can be tough. Finding the right jobs and career paths is hard. And when you do end up with a job, even one you love, you’re sure to find some stress in your line of work.
But you don’t have to do this alone. Career counselors DC and therapists in DC are here to help. Career counseling can help you think through your decisions and reduce your stress as you forge your career path, and cognitive therapy is a great idea for anyone — no matter what their work or home life may be like. Counseling and therapy can give us both practical job-related strategies and personal mental health coping skills that will make us more productive, improve our relationships, and help us feel happier and more fulfilled.
Don’t just dream of work-life balance — make it happen
Many bosses are not exactly known for their love of work-life balance. As millennials have pushed for more benefits and time off (things that, to many modern workers, are more important than salary), old-school bosses have pushed back. Some bosses don’t like when people ask about work-life balance. However, if it’s important to you then you devise talking points for a conversation with your boss. Focus on both how finding balance can help you achieve your goals while at the same time being mindful of their differing world view on time away from work. Coming to the conversation with a win-win attitude is apt to help you to more likely achieve your goals. .
It’s not top of mind for others to advocate that you take time off or encourage you to use all of your vacation days — even though your bosses probably should, given the well-established connections between productivity and time off. So,if you want these things (and you should!), then you’ll need to politely assert yourself.
You also need to establish times when you are not working. You may not be able to ignore all after-hours emails, but you should at least carve out a few hours here and there when you are truly and entirely unavailable. If you’re working — or even just “on call” — after hours, then you’re not really giving your mind a needed break.
Take care of your physical health
Your mental and physical health are closely connected. When your mind is unhealthy, you will see physical symptoms. And when your body is unhealthy — when you are eating poorly, exercising insufficiently, and not sleeping properly — then your mind is going to feel it. You’re going to be more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression. And that’s going to lead to burnout at work and career-related stress.
Take care of yourself. Find ways to eat healthily at the office — pack a lunch from home, if you can. Get proper sleep (it will be easier if you fight for your work-life balance). Go easy on the booze and the fatty foods. If you care for your body, your stress levels will drop — even in a place as hectic as DC!
Have you battled career stress?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.