If you’re like most people, you spend a majority of your waking time at work. Unfortunately, many people also experience a majority of their stress at work or as a result of their jobs. Work may be good for your financial health, but stress can put your physical and mental health at risk.
Long hours and impossible deadlines are just a couple ways stress builds up at work. When you add to that the number of interruptions in your day and the other personalities you may find yourself dealing with during the day, it is easy to see why working is so stressful. Stress also compounds when you bring your troubles home, and they can keep you up at night. The next day, you go to work sleep-deprived, and stress continues to take its toll on you.
The key is stress management. Read on for how to be less stressed at work.
Strategies for Managing Stress in the Workplace
Since not going to work isn’t likely an option, and you probably won’t convince your boss to stop those awful weekly staff meetings on Friday afternoons, you need to find a way to manage your stress. Here are some suggestions:
- Build a Buffer. Smartphones and email allow you to bring work home or any place you go. The stress of the office can now follow you everywhere — there’s no safe place! Establish some boundaries for yourself. Decide that you won’t read work emails when you’re home, answer your phone during dinner or attend more than one after-hours work function each week. Use whatever makes sense to get the break you need from work. You may need to clarify your boundaries with your boss or co-workers to make them effective.
- Collect Data. This step seems like a job unto itself, but it’ll be very enlightening. Keep track of the situations that cause you stress by recording them in a journal. For a couple weeks, just jot down the circumstances that make you feel angry or overwhelmed at work. Knowing the specific stressors in your day can help you restructure your work life or find a job where you can eliminate these problems.
- Quit Working All the Time. No one can survive the stress of working all the time, every day. Schedule time to engage in some other activity that will block work out for several hours. Take a Saturday to completely unplug from work and tune into your family or friends you don’t work with. Take in a movie, go out to dinner or play cards. Scheduling an activity will ensure you don’t end up thinking about work, and you should do this at least once a week.
- Suggest Changes to Your Boss. Identify specific changes that would reduce stress for you at work and discuss them with your supervisor. This isn’t opportunity to complain — it’s a way to make positive changes that might improve working conditions for your colleagues as well. Be open-minded and see if your boss can offer additional options.
- Exercise and Eat Right. Stress can deteriorate your physical health, so add some healthy exercise to your daily routine. You can start small with just taking the stairs instead of riding the elevator or parking your car further away from the building. Also, replace those bakery treats in the office with some healthy fruit and nuts. Carbohydrates not only increase your weight, but they can lead to a drop in mood when the sugar high wears off. Try to snack on healthy foods that will help you maintain your energy level throughout the day.
Stress at work can make you feel trapped in an unhappy life. These steps can help you gain control over the stress you experience at work and counter-act it with more positive activities. Reducing stress levels at work can improve your mood and your health.
People who suffer from anxiety and depression may have more trouble managing stress at work, and in other areas of their lives. When not addressed, these issues can become severe and pose serious health risks. While changing your how you manage your work, or even finding a new job, may relieve feelings of anxiety and negativity, it may not always be enough. Do not be afraid to ask for professional help and advice in coping with work-related stress that make be affecting your mental health.