Federal workers can have it rough during the holidays. It can be a stressful time both at home and on the job.
Consider the following:
- The Postal Service expects to deliver 4 billion packages this year, marking an 8 percent increase from 2013. To handle the workload, postal workers in some cities will deliver packages seven days a week and through Christmas Day.
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers will screen 24.6 million passengers set to fly on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally between November 21 and December 2, a 1.5 percent increase from 2013, according to Airlines for America.
- Air traffic controllers, who occupy what is widely considered one of the most stressful jobs, will direct those holiday flights that carry millions of passengers.
Those are just a few examples of how the holiday period can put a strain on federal workers whose jobs are already stressful enough.
Keep in mind: The stress you experience at home and work may ultimately lead to health issues that prevent you from being able to work. If this ever occurs, you should look into whether federal disability retirement benefits are an option.
Why Is Job-Related Stress a Serious Concern?
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that job stress often comes from a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources or needs of workers.
Stress can become a problem for workers whose jobs require quick decisions that have to be accurate for safety reasons, for those who perform high volumes of repetitive work and for those concerned about their job security or their personal safety.
It’s easy to see how dealing with the public, especially during the proverbial “holiday rush,” can add to stress.
Workplace stress in any federal job can lead to a variety of potentially disabling emotional / psychological problems, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic attacks
- Concentration and memory problems.
Workers under stress may turn to substance abuse to relieve negative feeling. Stress can also ultimately lead to physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders of the back and the upper extremities.
The American Institute of Stress reports that the main causes of workplace stress are:
|Juggling work with personal life||20|
|Lack of job security||6|
According to workers who responded to one NIOSH survey:
- 40% reported their job was very or extremely stressful
- 25% viewed their jobs as the No. 1 stressor in their lives
- 75% believed that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago
- 29% felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work
- 26% said they were “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.”
Some signs of job stress identified by NIOSH include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Concentration difficulties
- Flaring tempers
- Stomach problems
- Job dissatisfaction
- Low morale.
How Can Federal Workers Cope with Stress?
If you are a federal worker who is experiencing stress during the holidays (or any other time of the year), consider doing the following:
- Try to adopt a relaxed and positive outlook. Don’t take things personally, and don’t assume responsibility for things that are out of your control.
- Prioritize job tasks and determine which ones can wait.
- Balance work with an active personal life.
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep and exercise.
- Consider specific types of stress-reduction exercises, such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga or relaxation through massage or meditation.
Also, talk to your employer about how changes in the workplace might reduce levels of stress. Employee meetings or surveys that ask about working conditions, job satisfaction, health levels and other relevant issues can help to pinpoint sources of stress in the organization and how workers are affected. From there, solutions can be devised and implemented.