Tips for Managing Engineering Work Stress

The engineering field is increasingly touted as one of the best STEM career fields for college students to pursue. It pays well, there are many specialties within the field that students can opt to study, and there is an almost never-ending supply of job opportunities.

While engineering is a stable, well-paying field, both the abundance and importance of the work can sometimes make it stressful. Some helpful tips for managing job stress can go a long way in preventing you from becoming overwhelmed or burned out while on the job.

Engineers constantly contend with looming deadlines, which can cause unexpected stress. Before you start a project, break it up into smaller, manageable tasks and make a schedule for yourself that contains a timeline for accomplishing each task.

Consider delegating certain tasks or asking others for assistance in accomplishing the work. Teamwork is an important component for any project, and being afraid or ashamed to ask for help can actually derail your career and personal growth.

Find coping tools that help alleviate stress. Whether it’s exercising or pursuing a hobby before or after your shift; listening to music while you work; or taking a five-minute break during the day to stretch your legs, take a few deep breaths, and just clear your mind – figure out what helps you and find ways to incorporate those strategies into your routine.

Don’t feel that you have to suffer in silence. This doesn’t mean you should sow seeds of discontent by complaining to anyone who will listen, but if you feel the project deadline is unrealistic for your workload, have a candid conversation with your supervisor. They likely have the experience, knowledge, and insight that can maximize your productivity and may be able to approve overtime to help you meet the deadline. Additionally, your supervisor may delegate some of the work to others on your team to help lift the weight from your shoulders.

Even if the deadline is set in stone, articulating that you are invested in doing your level best to meet the deadline will go a long way toward demonstrating your maturity, conscientiousness, and commitment to the company.

Finally, think positively. Allowing yourself to become mentally bogged down in a vortex of worry, anger, and confusion can actually slow your productivity. If you spend too much time focusing on the idea that you can’t accomplish the task, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead, rise to the occasion. Make a plan and get to work. Find solutions, not problems. Instead of focusing on the negative, find ways to adapt and solve problems. Don’t allow negativity, whether from others or in your own mind, to sabotage you. Focus your mind and energy on being a problem-solver. This will get you further and can help you stand out as an innovator and someone who takes initiative.

At the end of the day, we each have a lot more control over the success of every project than we think, but it all starts with our mindset.