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Feeling stressed but not sure why

(6 Posts)
amitoostressed Sat 22-Oct-11 10:29:42

Name changed as really don't want to be recognised. I think I'm too stressed about work but I can't work out why, or what to do about it.

My LM is in theory very supportive, but I feel as though it's her show and she reveals little bits of information about work/procedures/what's happening as she feels like it. I often feel just slightly confused about my role, how I'm doing and what's going on. She says my work is brilliant and we've just been audited by an external agency and received the highest grade, but she let slip yesterday that "the reason why this (our area of the company) works so well is because I've been here so long and know what to do" - no mention of how hard me and my team work, or that we have improved systems by introducing new and better things over the last year.

I've noticed that there are little things that she has said that don't add up. She has denied hearing back about something when I knew she had, because she'd forgotten or lost the letter (I didn't say anything). I had to ask the original agency for a copy of the letter. I have suggested improvements, which she's not excited by, then a few weeks later she suggests the very same thing as though it's the answer to everything and she's been thinking it for ages.

She also hates the CEO and I've witnessed her and another member of Senior Management undermine the CEO in meetings and also in front of staff. I feel she's a game player and I don't trust her as far as I can throw her.

The thing is, I find myself lying awake in the early hours of the morning tossing and turning about work issues. I even went to A&E last Sunday night as I had an uncomfortably irregular heartbeat and had an ECG etc, which the doctors said was stress induced. I also bite my nails when I'm at work, but don't touch them when I'm on holidays.

I know the thing that stresses me out is not feeling like I'm in control, which I don't, even though I can't put my finger on why I feel like this. It's happened before in previous jobs, so just leaving for a hopefully better job isn't really the answer.

I don't really know what I'm asking - I guess, is this normal? Am I too sensitive? How can I let my confidence override my feelings of inadequacy or uncertainty? I do know that I'm good at my job, but I feel like a dunce when I'm around her.

flowermonkey Sat 22-Oct-11 17:40:37

No, it's not normal!

Working with someone (especially a boss) you cannot trust is very stressful. I've had this in the past and you spend you're whole time checking your back so you don't get stabbed!

I would keep my cards very close to my chest. Do not give any of your ideas away to her.

Is there any way you can move sideways? I would be making plans to get away from her as quick as I could if i were you!

SunnyHere Sun 23-Oct-11 05:08:53

Hi, yup I had a similar problem - including getting carted to hospital for suspected heart attack. All stress induced. I ended up with so much back pain I could barely move - again all stress ...

It is really important to take all these signs seriously as stress LITERALLY kills and life is way to short to put up with these sorts of games. It sounds like you have put your finger on it - you do not feel 'in control' and further you are in an environment where you cannot trust your boss. Her way of operating has you constantly on guard, whilst also second-guessing yourself.

What to do? It sounds like that apart from this line manager, you enjoy - and are good at - your job. So leaving is probably not the right option for you.

She doesn't sound like she is bullying you or doing anything overt you can complain about - so options around mediation etc. may not be open to you either.

If you can't think of any way to either move to a different line manager, or to apply for a promotion away from her - then you need to find a way to keep your own internal health and wellbeing and confidence going. As women, we often invest way too much of ourselves in our jobs, and we set ourselves up to worry and set goals that drive ourselves to exhaustion - then we come home and do it again!

The first thing I would advise is to really notice when the anxiety at work is starting. What is the trigger? What are the thoughts that are running through your head? Is it anger? "how dare she make me feel like this?" or is it guilt "I shouldn't get so worked up, I should know better" or is it anxiety about your anxiety "OMG, this stress will kill me!" - maybe all of them! A lot of this self talk and emotions just increase your anxiety and the whole negativity of the experience.

Once you have learned what triggers the feelings, and how the self talk goes on in your head - you need to learn to distance yourself from it. This takes a bit of practice, but in a nutshell - you Observe the physical feelings - the nerves, the sweats, the biting nails, etc. etc. whatever it is that goes on. Notice the self-talk - but don't buy into it - just let it rattle through your head, but dont let it feed the emotion. Next - Breathe into it - take a few really deep breaths just to help centre yourself - try to breathe into the anxiety. Finally - just acknowledge the feeling and allow it to be there. This technique might not stop you suffering anxiety - but it might help you to control the effects so you don't end up in A&E again!

There's a good book I read on this stuff called 'the happiness trap' by Dr Russ Harris. Its an interesting read.

amitoostressed Sun 23-Oct-11 17:00:22

Thanks for your replies. OK, so it's not normal! Sunnyhere I can't believe you've also ended up with heart issues as a result of stress. I never ever suspected this would happen to me - I didn't think this would happen to anybody! It sounds so extreme.

The thoughts that go through my head that stress me are "Am I doing something badly? Am I missing something essential and no-one's (ie mangement) telling me but just talking behind my back? Should I be doing something better?" Essentially a lack of confidence I guess, even though there are no other signs that I need to be worrying about this stuff - rather, the opposite.

I think you hit the nail on the head in that I have invested too much of myself in my work. I don't really have much going on outside of work at the moment if I'm honest, so maybe that's why it carries so much weight.

I'll have a look through that book too - thanks for the tip.

I think a solution might be to apply for a promotion in a different company this year. I'm ready for it, both professionally and personally.

lv75 Sun 23-Oct-11 22:45:44

I do sympathise, it's not normal but unfortunately does go on in the work place a lot. Can you transfer to another part of the company for a while? Stress is dangerous and no job is worth damaging your health for. If your manager is a game player chances are there are others who have worked with her who know what she's like.

wine0 Mon 24-Oct-11 06:46:49

its awful when one person can have such a negative impact on the place you work in and peoples health. I don't have any words of wisdom for you but empathise as i'm having stress issues with work too and i can see them escalating rather than gettiing better. Chin up amitoostressed.

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