At some point, everyone feels stressed about their job. The pressure to meet a deadline or fulfill a challenging obligation is only the beginning of what could potentially snowball into serious, unhealthy work-related stress levels. In 2016, 58% of Americans reported that work was a significant source of stress in their lives (American Psychological Stress in America Survey). Work stress is commonly a result of low salaries, excessive workloads, limited opportunities for advancement, unclear job expectations and the fear of being laid off.
How are you at managing stress? Do you let it affect your personal life? Does it cause you to lose sleep at night? You can’t always avoid tensions in your job, but you can make cognitive decisions to not let it control you. Before your stress begins affecting your overall quality of life, take these 3 action steps to begin managing your work-related stress today:
Develop Healthy Responses
It’s easy to escape the stresses of life through indulgences and bad habits. Since you had to stay late at work you go through the drive thru for fast food, or you can’t sleep so you turn to alcohol to make you drowsy. These habits are not going to ease your stress. They are going to mask the stress for a short period of time before your original stress returns. Instead of developing these scapegoat patterns, make healthy choices to destress. Clear your mind with yoga or get your frustration out with a good workout like kickboxing. Schedule breaks into your day for some relaxation or do activities that bring you joy. By doing things that you love, eating right, and getting good sleep, your body will begin to recover from the stress that it is enduring throughout the day.
In this connected society, you are constantly bombarded with emails, phone calls, coworkers popping in, instant messages and sudden and urgent deadlines. Did you know that the average manager is interrupted approximately once every 8 minutes and it takes on average 25 minutes to fully regain that cognitive focus that was broken? It’s time to face the truth: you really can’t multitask as well as you thought you could. Rather than attempting to juggle multiple projects at once and dodging interruptions from your coworkers, take a proactive step to blocking off your time. The best way to tell your coworkers to leave you alone without causing office drama is to be up front. Communicate with them when you have a big project so they know before hand that you will be unavailable, block time on your calendar as busy, or turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your phone. They will then know when the best time is to meet with you, and you will be able to complete your projects with limited interruptions.
Learn to Say No
It is human nature to say yes. You want to be agreeable and not miss out on an opportunity, so you say yes. That is great for some life situations, but saying yes when you need to say no causes more stress, burnout, and guilt. This guilt of saying no is a symptom of “the disease to please”. You no longer have to suffer from this symptom! Repeat after me: saying no is empowering! People will respect your boundaries and be more appreciative of your time once you begin saying no. Saying no is not easy at first and some situations will be tough (like saying no to your boss). But once you break through that fear, you will be free to make decisions that are right for your workload and your sanity. This is the biggest thing to remember as you begin saying no: do not apologize when saying no. Take “I’m sorry but…” out of your vocabulary. You may believe that you’re trying to be polite, when in reality apologizing may show weakness when you’re trying to be firm about your time.
Other ways you can manage your work related stress:
- Keep your daily to-do list very short
- Ask questions instead of guessing
- Disconnect over the weekend
- Delegate tasks
- Let your lunch be a slow time of relaxing
- Focus on one task at a time
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Reconnect with what you loved about your job
- Steer clear of too much caffeine
- Remain calm, always
- Remind yourself that some things can wait until tomorrow
Work-related stress does not have to dictate your life! If you need more ways to control your stress, read our other tips on Combating Burnout at Work.
By: Rebecca Clausen