These days, there aren’t many jobs around that don’t involve at least some stress. It’s become a normal part of most people’s working life. And whether it’s deadlines or workloads (or both!), much of it is out of our control so what can you do?
We all expect an element of stress at work. It can actually be a good thing and keep you focused on the task at hand. However, too much stress can interfere with your performance and productivity. It can also have a detrimental effect on both your emotional and your physical wellbeing.
The good news is that there are strategies you can employ to manage stress at work. Take a look at these 8 excellent ways to lower stress in the workplace and see if they can make a difference.
1What are your stress triggers?
Knowledge is power, as they say, and it really pays to understand where your stress is coming from. How about keeping a stress diary for a week or two to identify the most stressful situations for you as well as how you respond to them?
In addition to logging individual instances, including who, where, what and when, write down your thoughts and feelings at the time. Going over it at the end of the period, you may well discover reoccurring stress patterns and reactions that you can work on.
2Better time management is key
Are you struggling to prioritise your workload, preferring to take things as they come or as they are put in front of you? Reacting to other people’s demands, or failure to delegate to others, can leave you swamped with work and feeling out of control.
Effective time management is an invaluable tool for any job – and it can be learnt. The result is a better use of your time while you’re at work, increased productivity and job satisfaction, and lower stress levels.
3Just say no
Are you finding it difficult to say ‘no’ to a colleague or your line manager? You may think you’ll be letting the team down (or indeed yourself) if you don’t agree to every request for extra work, but if you take on too much work, high stress levels and poor performance are the inevitable consequence.
Instead, weigh up whether you have the capacity to say ‘yes’, leaving aside any feelings of guilt or wanting to please your superiors. If your gut instinct says ‘no’, go with it.
See Also: The Courage To Say No
4Use your days off wisely
The best way to combat workplace stress is to relax, disconnect from work and recharge your batteries. Treasure and ringfence your downtime and make sure you have enough time to totally forget about work. That way, when you return to your desk, you’ll be fully reinvigorated and ready to perform again.
5Find time to unplug
In our media driven 24/7 world, it can sometimes be hard to switch off your computer and smartphone resulting in digital overload. It’s a good discipline to switch off all electronic gadgets after 8pm – including email, messaging, social media, calendars etc – to give your body the chance to fully unplug from the day.
6A problem aired is a problem shared
Talking is a highly underrated stress buster. Sometimes, simply offloading your woes of the day in a conversation with a close friend, colleague, or your partner can help you let off steam.
The other person may not even have to offer any advice – listening alone can be good therapy too. But if you’re having real issues at work, who knows, they may be able to offer a way forward.
7Get physically active
You’ve heard about endorphins, the feelgood chemicals in our body that we get from exercise? Physical exercise is a fantastic stress buster. Not only will it make you feel better, it will improve the quality of your sleep too.
No need to join the gym – any form of physical activity will do. How about a lunchtime walk, playing with the kids, or doing some gardening during the weekend? It all counts.
8Talk to a counsellor
If none of the above strategies seem to alleviate your workplace stress, perhaps it’s time to consult a professional for help. Counselling may be part of your private health care plan, or you may need to seek independent local advice to get the help you need to deal with excessive stress.