Coping With Workplace Stress

If things on the job are hectic, and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Take a deep breath, and try this list of tips to manage stress while at work.

So, it’s been a rough few days (or weeks) at work. You’re tired; you’re frustrated. Nothing’s going right. You seem to be putting out one fire after another, and it never seems to end. When the demands of your job seem to outweigh your ability to meet them, inevitably, the result is feeling stressed out.  If things on the job are hectic, and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. No matter where you work, or what you do, the problem of stress is largely inescapable. Join the club of over 65% of adults who feel the very same way.

While we all experience stressful moments, if we sustain this feeling over a prolonged period of time though, it can spell danger for our health and overall well-being. Studies have even found a possible link between stressful jobs and lowered life expectancy. It’s a genuine workplace hazard that has racked up billions in annual healthcare solutions.

This is not to say that stress at work is all bad. Some of it can in fact, be healthy; eustress – the good kind of stress – motivates us to compete, make breakthroughs and reach new goals, and it helps companies grow as a result. Too much of a good thing, however, can turn bad, and when the presence of eustress reaches critical mass, it deteriorates, becoming distress. Then, the feeling of anxiety and tension is constant and unbearable; it hampers efficient performance at work. It can be extremely difficult to push through the demands of the day when emotionally and physically, you’re just not at your best. 

How are you coping?

How you handle stress all depends on your life experiences, your personality and other circumstances that are unique to you.  What stresses you out may not necessarily affect others so negatively, and what really bothers other people might not get to you at all. When it comes to stress at work, coping begins with identifying those factors which are triggers for you.

Figure Out Your Triggers

When you know what causes your stress, you’re then in a position to figure out ways to resolve each trigger. If you can change the circumstances surrounding a stressful event even a little, you’re well on your way to managing your response.

Protect Your Time

When you feel overwhelmed or under pressure at work, feeling like you’ve got next to no time to get anything done only adds to the feeling of mental and emotional overload. Your time management skills can go a long way towards lifting the burden. Learn how to set realistic expectations and deadlines when working with your colleagues and boss; stay communicative and adjust goals when necessary. For projects with a lot riding on them, ensure you block time off to work on them uninterrupted.

Find An Outlet

A stressful job can feel as though it’s completely taking over your life. For your health and sanity’s sake, it’s important to find a way to relieve the pressure that’s been constantly building. For tough issues, try speaking with close friends or colleagues you trust at work. We’ve all been there. Sometimes, blowing off a little steam can be productive, especially if the conversation concludes with you receiving helpful suggestions on how to cope going forward. 

If you’re not the talking type, or you aren’t comfortable expressing personal struggles with work colleagues, you still need an outlet.  When you’re away from the office, avoid burnout by taking time out for something you actually enjoy, like reading, socializing or some physical activity. Even taking a nap can do wonders for a tired mind, and help you achieve something of a mental reset.

Take A Time Out

Just as taking naps can help reboot your mental and physical state, it’s important to take the opportunity to step away from work when you can. If you’re able to take some time off, no matter how small, do it. A hectic period at work might mean that a two-week vacation is out of the question, but maybe you might be able pin a personal day to an upcoming long weekend, giving yourself three days off rather than the usual two. To make it an official time out, however, you’ll also need to take a break from thinking of work during these periods. There’s no point to a day off if you spend it handling work issues even while you aren’t in the office. Arrange for someone to cover your duties while you’re away, (or at the very least, set auto-responders and vacation alerts on your emails and voicemails indicating your availability) and temporarily go off the grid.

On a smaller scale, when you get home each day, choose a cut-off time beyond which you won’t be checking emails or answering your phone for work-related issues. It’ll all be there waiting for you when you get back. Note: if you’re the type of personality who actually becomes more stressed knowing that your emails and voicemails are piling up, structure your access to them so that it’s intermittent, and return to your time out. 

Put Yourself First

Always take care of yourself. Stay active, get as much sleep as you can and eat well. Pay attention to your feelings and listen to your body. If all of the above hasn’t helped, escalate the decision to look after your health; seek help from a mental health provider — whether through an employee assistance program offered by your employer or privately. If you can’t find effective ways to manage job stress on your own, professional counselling can help you come up with ways that work.,

Remember that stress is manageable. Control the work; don’t let the work control you.