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Old 01-05-2012, 10:28 AM
2,282 posts, read 3,663,306 times
Reputation: 1669


I'd prefer responses only from folks who have actually had a stressful job at one point or time in their life, not some bread and butter 9-5 where you aren't the least bit stressed or pressured on a day-to-day basis to get an insurmountable amount of work done.

Describe your experience.

Why were you stressed?

How did you initially try to cope?

Did you just quit?

Did you have a talk with your manager about how to make your job less stressful? If so, has that resulted in any useful tips/solutions? Or has it typically led to early termination?

Has your job caused stress-related illnesses, and if so, how did you go about remedying them?

Again, please respond ONLY if you have experience with this and have useful insights in how to cope with extremely stressful jobs. Those who might find this thread useful are already stressed enough; we don't need any petty antagonizing from the usual suspects.

Last edited by Z3N1TH 0N3; 01-05-2012 at 11:03 AM..
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:51 AM
2,282 posts, read 3,663,306 times
Reputation: 1669
I'll begin. I work for an IT company that primarily sells hardware, software, and other IT solutions. When I took the job, it was marketed by HR and management as a logistics/supply chain position. I was fooled, shame on me. It is more of a sales support position. Though there is some work related to logistics, my primary role is to support several account managers with their orders. It is most certainly nothing at all like my previous logistics job, which was 100 times more laid back.

As you might imagine or know (if any of you were in sales at any point), the goal is to satisfy the customer by any means necessary. Every day is a mad rush. At any given time, I could have 20-40 open orders that I'm supporting. Each of those orders requires a very high level of attention to detail. If we screw up on certain aspects, it goes against our individual and team performance metrics. This only adds to the pressure of the job.

I do not mind the actual work that I do for this company. I am a very organized individual and typically thrive with jobs that require that type of skillset. The issue with this particular job is with the amount of work and the time frame in which to get it done.

As I have mentioned, every day is a mad rush. I get anywhere between 60-150 emails a day pertaining to the orders that I am supporting. I have about 5 daily reports that I must examine. I have eight account managers and three managers on my back every day regarding orders. Some orders require more attention than others, and that only adds to the stress, because each account manager believes that their accounts are priority number one. If I have to dedicate more than 5 minutes to an order, that only sets me back and adds to the mountain of stress I am already dealing with.

I am typically a very healthy person, but I have actually experienced several stress-related illnesses since I started this job back in August 2011. My doctor prescribed me some anti-depressants in low doses to help cope with the stress. That helped to an extent. I have lower energy than I used to. I have gained about 20 pounds. My nerves are shot, my hands shake from time to time, my back is stiff/sore, my pelvic region is tender, I have ongoing gastro-intestinal problems, etc. I could go on and on about my stress-related symptoms caused by this job. I am actually seeing another specialist tomorrow for another symptom I have experienced over the last five months.

This being my first extremely stressful job, I am not very sure as to how to handle it. My first thoughts were to give it a shot, change my mindset and try to adapt to the job. That worked for a couple weeks, and I actually started feeling better physically. But then year end came around and it was the most stressful experience I've ever had in my life. Every thing was amped up about 100 times more than usual. Needless to say, I fell back into my physical slump.

I've thought about talking to my manager, but I am hesitant for perhaps obvious reasons. I would be afraid that she would take this as I can't handle the job and she would terminate me. Ironically, I need this job more than ever now because of my health issues caused by the job. It is a terrible catch 22 to be caught up in.

My next action is to just start looking for another job. I was initially hesitant to do this, because I was afraid that quitting after a few months would be frowned upon. But at this point, I feel like I need to take care of my physical health, and that starts with finding a less stressful environment. The only dilemma with this is that I obviously have to continue with this job until something better comes along.

Sorry for the long post, I didn't want to leave out any details so there would be no assuming this or that about my situation.

Last edited by Z3N1TH 0N3; 01-05-2012 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:58 AM
17 posts, read 24,825 times
Reputation: 18
No way would i put up with that amount of stress for a JOB - life is too short.

Good luck on whatever you decide to do.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:08 AM
25,998 posts, read 28,906,270 times
Reputation: 26905
I don't know. For some it would be stress for the most part I would call it adreneline related. Depends on how equipped and desirable a challenge is for you. Because I did so many different jobs, within my jobs and was self managing and smart about my vacation time, I took a vacation every 3 months.

True stress starts to show up on your body physically most notably your hair and teeth and fingernails. All of these become quite brittle. The body does not store certain vitamins, like vitamin C, and have to be replenished daily. When under stress these non storable vitamins are burned off twice as fast. My hairdresser found broken spikes in my hair all along all the stress lines of my scalp. Little pieces of hair were sticking up. It wasn't falling out - it was breaking off. The dentist noticed it next. First thing you do for assistance is start taking a good multivitamin every single day like a religion. It really does make a difference.

My job was cylclical with some of its tasks. I'd work like a dog for a month straight and then it would be over and I had the advantage of saying, I need a day off. I would begin at 6 in the morning sometimes and not come home until 11:00 at night. I had an excellent repoire and trust with my boss and the sales manager and they let me make those decisions. I sat up all night putting a government contract bid together on a deadline and I was making photo copies of it and my boss said, "what are you doing after the bid opening?" and I said, "I'm going home and going to bed." He never gave it a second thought.

As for vaction time I had two weeks like everyone else and utilized it to it's fullest, with one trick I learned. Throughout the year I would take one or two vacation days and wrap them around a holiday weekend so I'd always get that freeday in there. Then once a year take a 9 day trip. There is one thing which only applies to people who are paid once per week and not less than that. Two months out of the year there are 5 pay weeks instead of 4. If you budget things month to month these are like 'free weeks.' I would take those weeks off without pay - I wasn't out anything on my monthy bills.

Don't hesitate to ask for a 'team' for a temporary project, but be extremely organized and specific about what each person is to do and why they need to do it. But remember to be available at times when others need the same assistance.

For gosh sakes make time for a social life whether it be with friends or working out at least once or twice a week. If YOU don't take care of YOU then you aren't worth a damn to anyone else.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:21 AM
Location: In the loop
370 posts, read 1,297,361 times
Reputation: 656
The first thing I have to say on this topic is that it's very easy for others to tell you to quit or find something else but when the job market is bad or your family relies on your paycheck each week you cannot 'walk out.'

A bad job seeps into your daily life and dominates your free time. It ruins your family life and makes you stressed and depressed.

The advice about trying to exercise each day is awesome and helpful. Also try to avoid self medicating therapies (drinking too much, drugs, too much tv) or anything that zones you out.

Try to plan an exit strategy for the job if you can. Save up some money in case you get fired or have to quit. Look into a hobby you can do to make extra cash. Try to get your mind off work when you are not there.

Keep looking for another job. Even if you only send out one resume a day, do something. Read a book about getting a new job or network.

Overall try to put it in perspective. All they can do in the end is fire you. If that happens before you get another job or are ready, at least 'some action' has been taken. You'll be out of a stressful job hopefully go in a better direction.

Good luck. My husband has a stressful job like this and he is very unhappy. We all suffer from it.
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Old 01-05-2012, 12:28 PM
Location: somewhere in the Midwest
625 posts, read 861,551 times
Reputation: 331
Default My story is probably one of the most unbelievable but TRUE story....

Where I work at for my full-time job during the day, I am an office manager. OMG my salary is so low that I am easily considered lower middle class. The other employees are hourly but my boss refused to pay overtime despite all the times I have argued with him about it, so I just gave up and consequently, I have to add the extra hours (overtime and straight time) into their paid time off just so they can get compensated. The medical insurance here is terrible, and the boss stopped the retirement plan for the employees several years ago. The morale at this company is so bad that most people here, including myself, just don't give a $h!T anymore because this job is not worth it. Most people only talk to the boss if they need to. One person here uses the internet to watch the TV news shows almost every morning, and another person has used the internet to look for jobs hoping to get out of here. No one here gives a $h!T. But the economy is so bad that everyone is stuck here. I thought about getting an MBA part-time but of course, there is no tuition reimbursement at this company and my pay is so low that I wouldn't even bother doing that until I left this company. This company will not pay me a penny more even if I did get an MBA. This may sound harsh, but I wouldn't even want to bring an MBA to this company because this job really isn't worth it. I work two jobs and I am happier at my part-time retail job than I am here.
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Old 01-05-2012, 12:37 PM
Location: GA
460 posts, read 1,261,883 times
Reputation: 318
First thing, if your background is logtistics and supply-chain, I've seen plenty of positions in that category, so I would not hesitate to start searching unless you can get some relief.

My last position was in sales operations, but I reported on the people doing the sales support, tons of deadlines, QA's, reports, while dealing with huge system changes and volume increases yearly. Tons of cyclic stress, however, their daily routine sounds a little more routine than your's appears to be but there was also a motto of trying to make all requests work, which caused some big issues. My own stress was trying to mediate between finance, management and sales to make everything work. Combined with absolute deadlines and hundreds of sales reps relying on my accurate data. This was an ongoing issue, long days fixing issues that could have been prevented, overcoming apathetic people who didn't complete work, and finally, taking over some decision making because no one else could do it.

However, I was able to eventually manage the components which you appear unable to do. I was able to make changes that relieved some of the burden, created more flexible time and assisted with the elimination of redundant communications. It sounds like you are being overwhelmed by a process you did not create, may not have any rules other than "get everything done", and is not a concern to management or they are unaware. I knew a another team that had a very similar circumstance, many got sick at work or cried. But it was because management did not seem to care that they worked long days with no hope of digging themselves out. They were told to fix their own problems but had no authority or time, to do so.

It sounds like either your other workers aren't affected or you have an unequal share of the load. There are ways to demonstrate this, ways to distribute equally, and finally, ways to show how you can improve the process which is key to not sound like you are complaining. Your reps want better service? You need fewer requests. They want up-to-date status? Check the website. Etc.
It really sounds like you need to talk it out with someone there but as a business situation, not with the personal details.

Last edited by peet111; 01-05-2012 at 01:16 PM..
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:15 PM
Location: Noblesville, IN
3,813 posts, read 4,509,100 times
Reputation: 6564
I had a job for over 10 years in the property tax field. There are deadlines every week or two weeks...taxes wait for no one. When I first started, the people around me were aware of the chaos but they really seemed to have the processes down so as I was learning, I put all my trust in them. I was told many times "we won't let you fail".

Over the years though, with massive changes in procedure and personnel, it got to be one of the most stressful places that I ever worked. Staying late, working weekends and/or holidays...not being able to take all of my vacation time...added duties that should've required an extra position... I got to the point where my work ethic, which I valued so highly, was diminished. I never knowingly put any of our clients at risk for penalty or fraud, but it was the little things around work that I simply stopped caring about.

I didn't always follow up as quickly as I used to...then again, it was difficult for me to choose what the most important thing to do next was. It was all important and as long as they got more clients and refused to hire more people, all the importants things "lost" their importance to me. I ended up making a mistake (it was multi-layered with several people involved) and was blamed wholly for it.

My boss finally got her wish and fired me. Honestly, even though I was scared witless at being older and out of work in this world we live in, the stress of the job over shadowed any stress I'd face beyond that job. I still had nightmares about some of the nastiest people I've ever met for months afterward. Crazy part? I liked the actual job before it morphed into "not my job anymore" status.

Anxiety, worry, sleepless nights...well, I didn't just have them at that job but I got a full dose. Sometimes I had to medicate. Most of my vacation time was spent at home recuperating from the mental screwing I got most days. I'm happy to be out of there, however, I fear that many jobs nowadays have elements that stress me out completely.

I'm struggling to find a place where my anxiety level is non-existent. I suppose I'll figure it out one day...
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:34 PM
18,845 posts, read 34,634,212 times
Reputation: 26290
My last job was a new position, in a large hospital. No one knows exactly what my job is, and it is very specialized. There were several problems that made this job stressful.
1. Toxic Co-workers
2. A supervisor who did not know my job, but wanted to tell me how to do it.
3. No flexibility
4. Overwhelming amount of work, from various departments, who wanted it all done now.
5. No support staff

I was working 80 hours a week, just to keep up. I was overwhelmed, paperwork, patient care, attending meetings. Dealing with a team that wanted an internal applicant hired, who unfortunately, did not know anything about the subject matter, but decided she was a "subject matter expert" because she read a book.

How did I deal with it? I took medication, I went to therapy, I applied for jobs every week, knowing that I would get an offer and get out of there. This job was like terminal career cancer, it could have completely destroyed my career if I had let it get out of control. Every day, I could barely drag myself out of bed to go to work. I was exhausted, depressed, just wanted the pain to be over...it created a pall over my entire life.

I found another job, moved...and felt like I died and went to heaven. I work with nice people now, have a great job, with a manageable case load, reasonable expectations. Been there, done it, forget it. There is so much more to life, you can find a job, making just as much money..
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:42 PM
9,856 posts, read 14,320,616 times
Reputation: 5461
Right now I work roughly 10 hour days at work. I am in IT, doing systems analysis/programming sort of work. One of the last systems I worked on was used to control overhead costs for a fortune 500 company. Any mistakes I made would cost the company $4-5 million per year. The next system I worked on was used to automatically set production schedules. Any mistake made would mean the company would be slated to manufacture too many goods (being 20% over would mean $7-8 million per month wasted). In addition, I am going to school to get an MBA at one of the top 15 schools in the nation, which means I am in class eight hours per week and study about 15-20 hours on top of that.

Yes, it is stressful, but I love every second of it. I actually switched jobs last year because my job was too laid back. My boss didn't push the team, people would take hour lunch breaks when projects were behind schedule, etc. Maybe it is a personality thing, but I live on the stress. If you learn to handle high stress positions, the rewards are great. I exercise like a nut. I would rather get an hour less sleep every night and spend an hour running/cycling until I am ready to pass out than not do anything physical. Endorphins are my drug of choice. If I didn't exercise, I would probably be an alcoholic popping pills like they were skittles. Something else I worked hard to achieve is the realization that stress is 100% mental. Stress is completely controllable. If I am stressed out, I know I am getting too emotional. I take a mental step back and just focus on the very next task on my list. I stop thinking ahead, stop wondering what could go wrong, and concentrate on the next task and the next task alone. With some 'mental training' along those lines and a good, hard workout every day, stress isn't a big deal.
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