If you're wondering how to deal with stress at work, you're not alone. It’s no secret that our jobs are stressing us out.
Between commuting, company mergers, office politics, and the new twist of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot more than just job duties for workers to navigate. These additional stressors can take a toll on workers’ mental health if they’re not adequately addressed and managed.
A recent survey by Northwestern National Life shows that 40% of respondents report that their job is very or extremely stressful. That same study also reports that 25% of respondents believe their job is the number one source of stress in their lives.
So, how do we deal with job stress and is it always necessary to feel so overwhelmed and anxious at work all of the time? Let’s walk through what steps you can take to help you manage stress at the work and the signs you can look out for to identify stress and know when it’s time to take a step back.
If you know your job stress is rising or if it feels like it’s becoming too much, there are a few different techniques you can try to figure out how to deal with stress at work.
Sometimes, stress and pressure are unavoidable in the workplace. If you’re wondering how to deal with a stressful new job or are dealing with particularly overwhelming and uncertain circumstances at work, it’s important to have a gameplan ready for how to handle those situations so you can manage your stress in the workplace.
When work becomes stressful, people tend to work faster and may skip the usual steps to loop people in on what’s going on. However, communication is critical to ensure work is done efficiently. Communication can also help reduce the stress when everything is clear for stakeholders involved with a project.
Be sure to regularly touch base with your coworkers and manager, and consider sending out recaps for your team after a meeting so everyone is on the same page with action items and the project status.
In addition, don’t be afraid to communicate how you’re feeling or handling the pressure. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, let your leader know to see if there’s a way to adjust priorities or reassign duties to someone else. Or, if you’re comfortable with the current level of stress or pressure at work, you can communicate that to your boss as well so they know your current workload is manageable.
Staying organized is another key element that tends to drop off when people feel stressed. But, if you keep up on your organization system and have everything in its place, you may avoid additional stress. Whether it’s making a to-do list, keeping client notes and information digital so you can access them anywhere, or filing emails into folders, use a system that works and keeps you on track.
On the other hand, inefficient organization systems or processes can also cause stress and frustration in a job. If there are parts of your work you know could be streamlined or improved, see if you can find a new, better way of working that’s more efficient and decreases anxiety at work.
If you spend many of your work hours under pressure, be sure to have a routine or outlet that lets you unwind and relieve stress. It’s also not a bad idea to have more than one method to relax.
To help yourself switch gears and leave the stress behind, try going to the gym before or after work or listen to calming music on your commute. By putting your work stressors or to-do list behind you, you’ll be able to come into work the next day feeling fully refreshed and ready to get started.
If you’re a manager who’s concerned about your team members being stressed, here are some signs to look out for:
As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to help your employees prioritize important work while maintaining their mental health—and preventing too much stress is part of that.
It may be helpful to share the work stress management tips and strategies listed above with your team, but remember that employee stress may be caused by the company’s practices or a culture that promotes a stressful environment (which will take more than individual changes or coping strategies to fix).
If you’re a leader or just someone who cares about having a low-stress workplace, here are some ideas to help you learn how to be less stressed at work and promote a healthier workplace environment for your coworkers or employees.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to put work stress aside or manage feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. If you’re still wondering how to handle stress at work or you’re experiencing signs of depression, consider talking to a mental health professional.
These experts can help you with additional strategies to reduce your job stress and learn how to better deal with and manage stress and anxiety at work. Many workplaces even offer benefits or resources for employees’ mental health that you may be able to use.
Some level of job stress is inevitable as long as deadlines, office politics, and industry changes continue. However, learning how to deal with these feelings or avoid triggering situations is critical to prevent stress and anxiety from building and negatively impacting your mental health.
Proactive communication with your team, along with setting and sticking with boundaries, can help you become less stressed at work. Let your team or manager know if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your job and keep everybody in the loop about upcoming projects so no one feels caught off guard.
There will be times when stress is unavoidable, but if you can master how to manage stress in the workplace by following the steps outlined above, you, your focus, your productivity, and most importantly, your mental health will all be all the better for it.
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