Managing Career Stress In the Silicon Valley

Is job stress getting the best of you? Even if you have a dream job, you may often find yourself coping with tight deadlines, long hours, a demanding boss and high performance expectations, all while juggling other personal responsibilities.

On one hand, stress can be the motivator that pushes us to gets things done at work. But on the other hand, it's the thing that can make you want to pull your hair out and run screaming into the hills.

If you catch the stress symptoms early, you have a better chance of fixing the problem and preventing problems that are more serious. Be on the lookout for these early warning signs of job stress:

  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Sleep problems
  • Short temper
  • Upset stomach, headache, or other physical ailments
  • Relationship problems
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol

Prolonged job-related stress can impact your performance at work, which can, in turn, impact your pocketbook. Chronic job stress frequently leads to burnout, which is usually a combination of:

  • emotional exhaustion
  • personal detachment
  • a reduced sense of accomplishment
  • negative attitudes toward others and yourself.

Burnout can lead to depression. Anyone who has high-intensity contact with people on a daily basis is at risk for job burnout. The expectations in Silicon Valley are extraordinarily high in most high-tech companies, and the competition for jobs and for excellence keeps people putting in lots of hours, often to the detriment to their personal lives.

Burnout can happen to the best of us, and it can happen in our personal lives, too. If your significant other is constantly bombarding you with complaints of one crisis after another, your attitude eventually becomes a bit more cynical and jaded, and your offers to help a bit more reluctant.

Fortunately, burnout is one stressor that can be prevented.

If you're in a job that you don't like or aren't good at, start looking for one that better matches your skills, abilities and interests. Work out an income plan that will give you the flexibility to seek a career that makes you happy. It may be a slow process of transitioning, but taking any step in the right direction will help you feel better.

Here are some tips for coping with job stress…
  1. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others. Don't expect perfection from yourself or others. Don't be afraid to clarify your job responsibilities with your employer, if you need to, and make sure the company's performance criteria match your actual duties. Collaboration and cooperation makes you emotionally and physically healthier and improves your employer's overall productivity. It's a win-win.
  2. Make the most of workday breaks. Sitting quietly with your eyes closed for 10 minutes or walking outdoors to get a breath of fresh air will refresh your outlook and attitude.
  3. Walk away when you're angry. When you're feeling stressed, don't take it out on your boss, co-workers, spouse or kids. Count to 10, take a walk, work off some steam. If you need to communicate your stress and anger to your spouse, do it when you're not stressed or angry.
  4. Switch off your phone. While communication technology has undoubtedly enhanced our lives in many ways, the constant use of technology to "keep up" adds to our stress levels. When you're at home or on vacation, try to avoid business e-mails, phone calls and faxes.
  5. Keep a To-Do list. Prioritize your list and check the list frequently. Add items as you think of them in order to eliminate that nagging little background stressor voice that's constantly reminding you to "Remember!" Not only will you reduce the risk of forgetting something, you'll also be better able to focus on the task at hand. Check off tasks when they're done as a little self-congratulation!
  6. Ask for help. Learn how to be a good delegator. Ask for help from co-workers, supervisors or a therapist when you need it.
  7. Eat right during the workday. Don't load up on junk food, sugar carbs and caffeine.
  8. Improve your work environment. Is your work setting creating physical stress? Your physical and mental health can be severely impacted by "little things" like noise, lack of privacy, poor lighting, poor ventilation, poor temperature control, and inadequate sanitary facilities. Take steps to convince your employer to provide a working environment that is as stress-free as possible.

If you feel overwhelmed by career stress, please feel free to contact me at 408.250.2166 or


©2009 Maria Lloyd, LMFT MFC38399. All worldwide rights reserved.
Maria Lloyd is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist located in the Silicon Valley area— San Jose / Santa Clara County, California. Maria provides individual counseling for women for: depression and stress management, post-partum depression, anxiety and panic disorders, bipolar disorder, interpersonal relationship issues, self and identity issues, co-dependency, anger management, and managing grief and loss.