Stress happens. It is inevitable – especially when competing priorities, differing personality styles, role confusion, constant change, and the pressure to juggle multiple tasks often defines our workplace environment.
Many surveys and studies confirm that job related pressures and anxiety as a result of long hours, tight deadlines, and increasing demands are the leading cause of stress for working adults. The Center for Disease Control’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health studies have found the number of Americans who are “extremely stressed at work range between 29 percent to 40 percent”. Often, the severity of job stress depends on the individual’s sense of control or decision-making latitude he or she has in dealing with the demands of the job. The Attitudes in American Workplace Study reports that 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42% say their coworkers need such help.
The effects of workplace stress are real. Symptoms range from the relatively benign – headaches, upset stomachs, feeling overwhelmed, and difficulty focusing – to the more serious like to shortened tempers, anxiety and exhaustion, chronic problems such as insomnia, high blood pressure, and weakened immune symptoms that can contribute to serious health issues.
So, what is the best way to cope? Finding a low-stress job is probably unrealistic for you, therefore, learning to develop some strategies to reduce stress and manage your well-being can improve your relationships- at home and at work- and increase workplace productivity.
9 Ways to Stress Less at Work:
- Begin your day with intention. As you are commuting to work, set your intention for the day. Identify the most important task you need to complete or milestone you want to reach today.
- Ensure you and your boss are aligned on your priorities. Clarify goals, roles, and expectations – and do this regularly.
- Take short exercise breaks. Take a 15-minute walk during lunch, make use of your office gym if one is available, or simply stand up and stretch your body a few times a day.
- Learn to meditate. Just 5 minutes of meditation a day – practiced regularly– can calm your nervous system, help you regain focus, and build emotional resilience.
- Keep perfectionism in check. Striving for excellence helps you excel at work and feel good about your contributions. Being a perfectionist, on the other hand, is a defensive move that can create unnecessary anxiety for you and others. Notice when you’re striving too hard.
- Stop multitasking. Most of us multitask because of the perceived benefit of improved productivity. It makes us feel like we are accomplishing several things at once, however in most cases we are really just doing more than one thing poorly.
- Be intentional about your commute home. As you transition from work to home, use this time to reflect on something from the day you are grateful for, be purposeful about your music selection (or listen to nothing at all), breathe deeply, and make any necessary mental shifts to ensure you are not carrying your workplace stress into your most important relationships.
- Take time to recharge. This can range from taking short breaks during the day to pause between tasks, to being thoughtful about how you use your paid time off, to engaging in a hobby or social activity that brings you joy.
- Get more sleep! A good night’s sleep gives you the physical and mental energy necessary to perform at your best. And with more rest you increase your capacity to cope with workplace stress.
Fortunately, stress does not have to define your experience at work. With a few simple strategies, you can minimize the physical and emotional effects of stress and ensure that you have the energy and creativity to perform at your highest and best.
Grow with purpose.