Sometimes a little work stress is good. It’s a signal in our brains that tells us we need to make adjustments. No stress at all, and we don’t feel the ambitious nudge to achieve a goal. Likewise, stress can take over our lives if we’re not careful. Worst case scenario, work stress overwhelms us to a breaking point, and we crash and burn.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress, anxiety, and burnout are on the rise, especially in the last two years.
The key to preventing burnout is finding balance through stress management.
But how exactly do you manage stress if you can’t banish the problem from existence? That’s what we’re discussing in today’s post, so keep reading!
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What Are The Signs of Stress In The Workplace?
Many variables cause stress in the workplace. Every job is different and faces unique challenges. For instance, some people struggle with deadlines, so a career with frequently tight deadlines leads to high-stress levels. Likewise, every person reacts to stress differently.
Signs of stress include but are not limited to:
- Excessive drinking of alcohol and caffeine
- Irritability and outbursts
- Weight gain and loss
- Irregular attendance
- Muscle pain
- Depressed mood
- Regular illness
There are three main types of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.
Acute stress is the physical reaction to a stressful situation, like sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat. Episodic stress is the same thing, but it frequently occurs— someone prone to worry or continual stress experiences episodic stress.
Chronic stress is a severe form of stress. The stress occurs daily and often from situations out of our control, such as previous trauma.
Whatever level of stress you experience, at some point, it must be controlled, or the pressure will control you.
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10 Best Ways To Manage Stress At Work
So how exactly do you manage stress at work? Let’s talk about the 10 best ways to reduce stress and improve your overall mental health.
1. Have a Routine
More often than not, people clock in to work already stressed. How? Lack of planning. We don’t give ourselves enough time to wake up, drink our coffee, eat a healthy breakfast, and do something we enjoy before work.
Morning and evening routines help set your day up for success by establishing good habits. Try reading a book with a cup of coffee before work. Lay out your clothes the night before so you have more time in the morning. Whatever you choose, do it for about two weeks consistently.
2. Get Organized
Organization looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t come naturally for some. For you, it could mean conquering the paper pile on your desk, marking events on your calendar, or tracking tasks.
Staying organized is equally important. Be sure to make organization a habit, and soon, the stress will dissolve over time.
3. Understand Expectations
A large part of why people stress about work is unclear expectations. Maybe you started a job thinking you would only accomplish x,y, and z, only to find that you have additional responsibilities. If this is the case, it’s crucial to speak with your supervisor about expectations and recruit help if needed.
4. Kill Gossip Before It Begins
Gossip destroys a company from the inside out. It adds unnecessary stress and conflict. If you have coworkers who like to gossip, avoid them. Don’t allow narrow-mindedness to take up real estate in your mind! Tackle conflict immediately and move on.
5. Exercise and Stretch
Exercise improves your mental health, reduces stress, and increases longevity. If you don’t have much time for exercise, make time for a simple 10-minute exercise regime. You could even try stretching before bed or even before work. Stretching relieves tension in the muscles, leaving your body relaxed.
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6. Take a Walk
So many people work through lunch to get more work done. But your body needs a break. Try taking a walk during your lunch. Clear your head. Listen to music or a podcast. Your body will enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Who knows? You could discover a solution to a problem after your walk.
7. Stop Multitasking
We’re all guilty of multitasking. Multitasking is sometimes necessary, but most of the time, it isn’t. We don’t offer our full attention when we multitask. Instead, try batch working. Batch working is completing a large amount of similar work in one sitting rather than doing it in small amounts. Batch working is great because it makes you focus on one task rather than interrupting your mind every few minutes.
Journaling is an outlet for us to write down what we are feeling without the pressure of someone knowing. Identify your stressors by listing them one by one. Pay attention to how you feel and identify emotions correctly. In her 2017 Ted Talk, Susan David stated that saying you’re stressed is very different from admitting you’re in the wrong career.
9. Establish Clear Boundaries
Learn to say no. You don’t have to be mean about it. Find different ways of saying no, like “That sounds great, but unfortunately, I have to decline.”
Establishing boundaries also means blocking off time for what is essential. Do you want to walk your children to the bus stop before work? Do you want to exercise? If so, you need to defend your time by setting boundaries.
10. Ask for Help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Talk to your friends, family, supervisor, or counselor about your feelings. People ask us at BSTATE for help all the time. Individually, help is just as important!
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Final Thoughts on Work Stress
Stress management doesn’t need to be fancy. What we have found is that the little changes make the biggest difference. How much stress is normal at work depends on how comfortable you feel handling it.
If you’re struggling, try these tips and let us know how they work for you.
Has Stress Become the Norm In Your Company Culture?
While tips to reduce stress can be helpful to individuals, sometimes a culture of stress in an organization takes on a life of its own! When this happens, attempts at reducing individual or personal stress can be difficult to implement or can lead to short term relief, while the root of the problem remains.
Stress within an organization can have many causes including lack of trust between teammates or between teams, lack of clarity about priorities or how to accomplish those priorities, management issues such as micromanaging or poor communication, and many more. Here at B STATE, we help companies identify the root cause of their stressful culture so that they can create habits that allow employees and leaders to work smarter, communicate better, and find clarity on business priorities as well as implementation.
Book a complimentary call with us today to find out how we can support you in creating a culture free of chronic stress.
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