7 Tips to Manage Stress at Work
How to Manage Stress at Work: 7 Tips to Help You Avoid Burnout
Work and stress pretty much go hand and hand. Unfortunately, too much of it too often isn’t healthy. In fact, it can make you sick.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress from their jobs. More importantly, around 40% of all workers admit that their job is very or extremely stressful. Additionally, a quarter of all employed individuals said work is the number one source of stress in their lives.
Workplace stress can come from many different factors. These are some of the most common types:
- Workloads and deadlines
- Issues with colleagues and supervisors
- Fear of getting laid off
- Balancing home and work life
- Pressure to perform at high levels
- Lack of control of what and how you do your work
So, what can you do to reduce job stress? Here are a few tried and true methods that work.
Live close to work
This is one aspect of job stress that occurs long before you get to the office. Research shows that your daily commute, whether via driving your car or riding public transportation, leads to stress. The study was performed by the Royal Society of Public Health in the U.K.
Besides increasing your stress levels, long daily commutes can make you gain weight, negatively affect sleep and reduce quality time with loves ones.
While it’s not always possible to live near your office, it’s something worth considering. Doing so cuts down travel time and the stress that comes with it. This helps you be more productive at work.
One way to reduce the stress from commuting is to put on some music on your way to and from work. Listening to your favorite tunes lets you relax and feel calm, allowing you to interact better at home and work.
One of the simplest, most effective ways of calming yourself during a stressful situation is to take deep breaths. That’s because deep breathing elicits the relaxation response. This is a physical state of relaxation which engages our parasympathetic nervous system. Doing so lets your body turn off the “fight or flight” mode it experiences during stressful times.
As you take slow deep breaths, your mind can disengage from the problems and tensions that bother you. Additionally, deep breathing allows you to take in more oxygen. This helps slow down your heart rate as well as lower your blood pressure.
Get enough sleep
The relationship between stress and sleep is somewhat complicated. One can cause the other. And, because of this, it can be difficult to tell which one came first.
Lack of sleep increases your stress levels. It also makes your more irritable. That’s because when you don’t get enough sleep, your body isn’t able to get the full benefits of sleep. As a result, your body can’t completely recover from the day before. Research also shows that there’s an inverse relationship between sleep and stress. As the length and quality of sleep go down, your stress levels go up.
On the other hand, during stressful times, your body reacts by triggering chemical changes to help you cope with threats, among them include releasing more adrenaline and cortisol which are both stress hormones. These give you extra energy and make you feel more alert. But, they also make your mind race through many thoughts. Thus, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
The bottom line is, try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. When you fall short, take short power naps mid-day to make up for lost sleep.
Prioritize, organize and delegate
Prioritizing your workload and practicing good time management are two things that go a long way in preventing stressful situations. This allows you to get the important things done in a timely manner.
Most people are most productive during the first few hours of the day. By prioritizing the most important tasks and projects early in the day, you’re able to focus your best effort on the most important things.
Additionally, don’t forget to plan your breaks throughout the day. This lets your mind step back and consolidate your thoughts for a few minutes before diving back into your tasks.
During the times when you can’t avoid the influx of work, don’t forget to delegate. This allows you to assign the best people for each task at hand. Doing so not only ensures high-quality work done, it also lets you focus your energy on things you do best.
When things get tense and hectic at work, take a step back by spending a few minutes in a quiet place to meditate. Meditation allows your mind to calm down. In doing so, it produces a deep state of relaxation.
When you meditate, you focus your attention inward. This allows all the thoughts crowding your mind stop.
Just as importantly, regular meditation makes you more aware of yourself. This allows you to recognize stress as it starts to creep its ugly head. Self-awareness also gives you the ability to respond better to stressful situations.
Use Your Vacation Days
Almost all companies give their employees a few weeks of vacation days every year. Use them!
This allows you to get away from the office. More importantly, it lets you leave your work and worries behind for a while. This allows your mind to come back refreshed and re-energized.
A study by Tel Aviv University found that taking a vacation not only lowers job stress, it also reduced burnout immediately.
Have a support system at work
Having a good relationship with co-workers and supervisors go a long way in reducing your stress levels at work. Doing so allows you to ask for help or advise when you need it. It also lets you share your thoughts with others without feeling unsure.
Additionally, studies show that developing good interpersonal relationships with colleagues at employers make you feel more comfortable in the workplace. They also give you a support system to rely on when things get tough.
Emma Lymn is the editor of Health Grinder, a health and nutrition blog whose mission is to help others get healthy through food and fitness. She’s a proud mom of two who loves spoiling her dog.