Top tips for dealing with stress an IT contractor

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Top tips for dealing with stress an IT contractor

The IT sector can be a highly pressured environment, with clients demanding you get systems or projects up and running within the shortest time possible. This can lead you to working long hours to meet these tight deadlines. While you may be able to sustain this for a short time, in the long term it can lead to burnout.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation found that at some point in the last year 74% of adults have felt so overwhelmed that they were unable to cope. Some experts say that a little stress can make you more productive and efficient but too much stress can have a detrimental effect on your mental health and wellbeing.

Stress affects people in different ways, but according to Mind, the mental health charity, some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Feeling anxious, irritable or afraid
  • Being uninterested in life
  • Being unable to switch off
  • Snapping at people
  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Experiencing frequent headaches
  • Experiencing chest pains or difficulty breathing
  • Suffering from blurred vision

Other symptoms of stress can be found on the Mind website.

IT contractor talking about stress.

If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms you may be suffering from stress, and you should make an appointment to see a doctor. To help reduce the symptoms of stress you should:

  1. Talk about it – sharing how you’re feeling or voicing your concerns with family members, friends or trusted colleagues can reduce the overwhelming feeling you experience with stress
  2. Focus on your health and wellbeing – small changes can help to bring balance to your life. If you find that you’re regularly stuck at your desk all day, find the time to go for a brisk walk. Activities like walking fast and climbing stairs increase your heart rate which is good for lifting your mood
  3. Focus on your diet– eating carb-heavy meal’s such as pasta, rice-based dishes and jacket potatoes throughout the day can leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. Instead, opt for smaller snacks or meals and eat more frequently throughout the day. This will help to even your blood sugar levels and avoid the ‘dip’ you feel after eating a heavy meal
  4. Embrace super foods – swap caffeine-based drinks for water, eat omega -3 rich foods like fish, flaxseed and walnuts and snack on fresh fruit or vegetables throughout the day
  5. Get quality sleep – not getting enough quality sleep can leave you feeling sluggish and irritable. If you struggle to drift off to sleep and to stay asleep try going to bed and getting up at similar times each day (including the weekend), sleeping in a dark room, not using an electronic device for at least half an hour before going to sleep and sleeping on a comfortable mattress. It’s recommended that you should change your mattress every eight years, so if yours is older than that then maybe it’s time for a new one
  6. Outsource tasks – working on a client project while handling the responsibilities of running your own business can be difficult. If you’re worried that you are falling behind on your accounts and tax affairs, hire an experienced contractor accountant to handle some of the tasks for you
  7. Get on top of your time management – arriving late to work or missing deadlines can lead to you feeling anxious and worried. Try leaving for work 5-10 minutes early and avoid distractions at work by turning off your email notifications

IT contractor stretching out at desk.

If you find that stress caused by your contract role is starting to negatively impact all aspects of your life, maybe look for a new contract. While no-one wants to walk away from a contract, your health should always be your priority.

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