Do you feel stressed out at work? Deadlines, job insecurity, and dealing with a difficult co-worker or supervisor are some of the most common sources of stress in the workplace. Unfortunately, on-the-job stress can negatively affect your health, well-being, and relationships.
One well known study that investigates stress in the workplace is the seventh annual Labor Day poll by The Marlin Company, "Attitudes in the American Workplace VII." According to this study:
82% of employees report that they feel some stress at work.
42% of workers say that the stress from their jobs affects their personal relationships.
35% of those surveyed believe that workplace stress harms their physical and emotional health.
The good news is that regardless of the source of stress at your workplace, there are steps that you can take to defeat stress and feel more calm, centered, and in control when you are at work.
Try one of these easy tricks the next time you feel stressed out at work:
Mix things up. Are you feeling a bit frustrated with a difficult or time consuming task? By continuing to pour over this task without results, your frustration and stress levels simply continue to build. Instantly reduce your stress by changing gears.
Gain a new perspective on an old or complex issue by working on something else for a while. When you change tasks, your mind is forced to think differently, which is often the wellspring to finding creative solutions and renewed energy.
In addition to clearing your mind, switching tasks helps your body to lower your heart rate and stress-related hormone levels.
Enjoy a mini mental vacation. Are you feeling overwhelmed, tense, and stressed out from situations at work that you can’t control? Did your boss just ask you to do more with less, and do it more quickly? Maybe you just took a call from an angry customer. Regardless of the specific reason, you can feel the effects of the stress building in your body.
Release the tension by focusing on your breathing and using progressive relaxation techniques.
The next time that you feel overwhelmed at work, try closing your eyes for a few moments and concentrating on your breathing. Clear your mind and take slow, deliberate breaths.
As you focus on your breathing, seek out those places in your body that feel tense. Consciously tighten your muscles in these areas as you inhale and then slowly release them as you exhale.
After you’ve relaxed your muscles, continue to focus on your breathing for a few moments while you repeat positive affirmations to yourself. For example, you could say, “I feel calm, centered, and ready to face any challenges.”
Get up and move. Just as changing tasks can help you change gears and gain greater perspective, moving around helps reduce your stress too.
There are more benefits to taking your lunch break than getting to eat! Eating lunch away from your desk gives you a much-needed mental break. After you eat, take a short walk to refresh and regroup.
Every so often throughout the day, get up from your desk and move around for a few minutes. The activity will re-oxygenate your cells, relieve stress, and bring new clarity to your thinking.
You’ll return to your work ready to tackle your projects with renewed inspiration and focused energy.
Take care of your body, both on and off the clock. Exercising regularly, consuming healthy foods in moderate amounts, and getting enough sleep each night will help you deal more effectively with stressful situations at work.
Avoid trying to lessen stress with unhealthy habits like drinking or overeating. Such habits offer fleeting relief while causing additional stress of their own.
Know your limits. Don’t be afraid to let your coworkers know that you aren’t a superhero. You can't do everything and no one should expect you to. Avoid letting others pressure you into over-committing. It’s better to help others understand that you have too much on your plate rather than promising something that you can’t deliver.
Be honest with yourself and others when you can’t take on another project or task. Have a conversation with your manager about how you should be prioritizing your work.
Set realistic expectations and deadlines.
Ask for more time or resources when you need them.
By being honest with yourself and others, you reduce stress and pave the way for success rather than setting yourself up for failure.
Even if you enjoy your job, work stress is still likely to be a regular occurrence. Practicing these strategies will help you release tension, defeat stress, and feel more capable at work.