Stress on the job is a real thing. Of course, some amount of stress referred to as eustress (good stress) is actually helpful in increasing motivation and focus. Distress though, (bad stress) can be debilitating. Anxiety may result from an overabundance of stress, presenting difficulty in day-to-day functioning. Life’s daily demands cause some amount of stress to each and every one of us. However, both men and women report their job as being one of the top causes of stress. Job-related stress that becomes on-going and consistent can potentially cause more serious mental and physical health concerns. Aside from anxiety and depression, physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, and sleep disturbances can also be due to stress. Truth be told, stress (in continuous/persistent amounts) kills!
Things like heavy workload, long hours, and lack of clear direction are some of the reasons behind stress in the workplace. Other contributing factors include bullying, harassment, weak and ineffective management, over-management or micromanaging, and poor working environment. Lack of communication on the job may result in misunderstandings, being yet another source of added pressure. While you likely desire to give your best as an employee or business owner, undue stress may hinder your performance. Productivity and efficiency may also be stifled, leaving you feeling even more stressed and unfulfilled, and unable to reach your full potential.
Finding ways to reduce stress on the job is key to performing at your best. Not only is it important to job performance, but also to your personal life. If anxiety is taking a toll on your job, it will soon spill over into personal relationships and your overall well-being. To avoid a snowball effect, stress reduction techniques can help get you feeling back in control and able to better manage sources of stress. The following techniques can pave the way to more peaceful working conditions, giving you the skills you need to succeed and minimize daily stressors.
Effective Ways to Reduce Stress in the Workplace:
- Time management – Managing and prioritizing your time helps you complete the most to least important tasks to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Delegate responsibility if necessary.
- Communication skills – Talking with colleagues one-on-one can help to ease tension, by both listening and being heard, helping to bridge the gap between any misunderstandings while possibly gaining a new perspective.
- Leadership skills – Taking time to communicate and consult with other employees, offering incentives, clarifying expectations, and showing appreciation are all ways to lessen stress and promote teamwork.
- Relaxation techniques/exercise – Morning exercise is a great way to boost energy, giving you a head start for the day. 30 minutes of activity is recommended – walking, running, dancing, etc. helps soothe the nervous system. Taking short 20 minute breaks throughout the day helps to reset and recharge the mind and body. If stress is rising at work, take a short walk outside to regain a feeling of balance.
- Choose healthier, nutritious meals – Stress can make us want to turn to comfort food like pastries or french fries, but nutrient dense options will provide you more energy, improve mood, and reduce stress. Minimize sugar and refined carbs, as they can actually worsen stress. Omega 3’s like walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed are great options for boosting mood. Lastly, avoid too much caffeine, making sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated.
- Get enough sleep – Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep with a consistent wake up time and bed time, even on the weekends if possible. Sleep is essential for concentration and focus, problem solving skills, creativity, and productivity.
- Deep breathing – Inhale for 6 seconds, then slowly exhale for another 6. Repeat this exercise 6 times in one minute. This is a simple, yet significant way to calm the mind, giving you a greater self-awareness and better decision making skills.
- Mindfulness/self-care – Taking time to do the things you enjoy encourages presence in the moment, bringing harmony to the mind and body, increasing self-awareness, and helping you see when you may be nearing your breaking point.
Choosing healthy coping mechanisms like the above mentioned techniques is always the best antidote to stress. At times though, stress may feel beyond our control. Seeking support from a trusted friend or family member can help in finding ways to cope, possibly providing a more positive outlook on your circumstances. Talking with a supervisor, or utilizing an employee assistance program (EAP) may provide additional resources for stress management. If you feel like your thoughts and emotions are spiraling out of control though, don’t despair. An experienced mental health professional can help you work through any concerns or difficulties you may be having.
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