Stress is an emerging challenge with real-world implications for both job seekers and employees alike. Especially in South Africa, where trending HR news topics reflect a job market grappling with post-pandemic adjustments, economic uncertainty, and shifting work models. In this article, we will discuss different ways of managing stress in the workplace effectively to make the most of your professional opportunities.
Why is Stress a Hot Topic?
For starters, stress affects both your physical health and mental well-being, and let’s not forget, it’s a productivity killer. It’s no surprise that organizations are increasingly incorporating wellness programs into their HR policies. But, for job seekers, the scenario can be more challenging. With South Africa’s unemployment rate hitting troubling highs, the job hunt itself has become a stress-inducing activity.
Stress Management Techniques for Job Seekers
1. Stay Informed but not Overwhelmed
Create a designated time slot for job hunting and market research. Schedule an hour or two each day and use this time to scroll through job portals, LinkedIn posts, and HR news updates. After this, make sure to switch off those job notifications and focus on other activities.
When you limit your exposure, you’re effectively preventing yourself from spiraling into a tunnel of endless worry and speculation. By setting boundaries, you cut off the constant influx of information that can lead to overthinking and anxiety.
Stress impacts your cognitive functions, decision-making abilities, and even your emotional intelligence. When your stress levels are through the roof, you’re far less likely to make informed decisions about your career. So, staying informed while maintaining your peace of mind is essential for a balanced job-search strategy.
2. Engage in Skill-Based Training
Identify gaps in your skillset that could be affecting your employability. Once you’ve recognized these, enrol in online courses, workshops, or even webinars that can help you fill those gaps. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and even YouTube have a wealth of information.
When you’re actively working on improving your skills, you create a sense of purpose and direction. This counteracts feelings of helplessness that often accompany prolonged periods of job searching. The endorphins released during the learning process are a natural stress reliever.
The South African job market is highly competitive and with the rise in unemployment rates, skill-building doesn’t just make you a more attractive candidate; it’s almost a requirement. Plus, continually learning and growing is a confidence booster, which itself is a natural stress deterrent.
3. Utilize Virtual Networking
The pandemic has opened doors to virtual networking opportunities like never before. LinkedIn is your best friend here, start following industry leaders, engage in relevant discussions, and don’t hesitate to reach out for informational interviews. Virtual networking events and webinars also offer a way to meet people in your field.
Networking can lead to job referrals, or even job offers, taking a considerable weight off your shoulders. Knowing that there are opportunities available, and that people are willing to vouch for you can dramatically reduce stress levels.
In a country where ‘who you know’ can sometimes be as crucial as ‘what you know,’ effective networking is priceless. Not only can it offer shortcuts in your job search, but it can also provide you with valuable insights into the company culture and expectations, better preparing you for interviews and reducing stress associated with the unknown.
Stress Management for Employees
1. Take Short Breaks: The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique involves breaking your work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. Choose a task to work on, set a timer for 25 minutes, work on the task until the timer rings, then take a five-minute break.
The principle is simple yet effective: it’s easier to maintain your focus and motivation for short periods than to slog through a marathon workday. Regular short breaks allow your mind to reset, leading to improved focus and reduced stress. Prolonged stress affects your physical health, contributes to absenteeism, and significantly impairs productivity. Short, regular breaks help combat these issues, leading to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.
2. Engage in Mindfulness: Meditation and More
Allocate 10 to 20 minutes each day for mindfulness exercises. This could be simple breathing exercises, meditation, or even mindfulness walks. Many South African companies are incorporating mindfulness sessions into the workday. If yours is one of them, make sure you participate.
Mindfulness exercises force you to slow down and focus on the present, pushing out distractions and stressors. It allows you to deal with stress in a more controlled manner, enabling you to react to challenges rather than just acting on impulse.
Skyrocketing stress levels, especially in fast-paced work environments, mental health has become a significant concern for both employers and employees. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, contributing to a happier, more productive workplace.
3. Seek Professional Help: Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs
If your company offers a wellness program, explore what mental health services are available. These could range from counselling sessions, stress management workshops, to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that offer free, confidential counselling.
Speaking to a professional can offer insights into your stressors and coping mechanisms that you might not have been aware of. Therapeutic techniques can equip you with tools to manage stress effectively. The stigma surrounding mental health is gradually eroding in South Africa, as it should. With the increased focus on wellness and wellbeing, not utilizing these resources is a missed opportunity for stress management.
Why MASA Can Help!
MASA is a one-stop destination for job seekers and employers looking to make meaningful connections in the South African job market. With a plethora of services designed to match your skill set with the perfect job opportunity, MASA takes the stress out of the equation. Don’t miss out on simplifying your job search or finding the perfect candidate.
So, if you’re looking to alleviate stress and boost your career prospects or employee wellness, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Take charge of your professional life today by exploring how the right staffing solutions can take you to the next level.
Stress management is crucial in this fast-paced world. Understand it, manage it, and remember, you’re not alone on this journey. MASA is here to help!