Quick Tips on Reducing & Coping with Stress at Work

If you have a job, chances are you have dealt with a stressful situation at some point. Even if you love what you do, the truth is that no matter what industry you work in there are different factors that can trigger stress for some people. Some of the most common sources are low salaries, excessive workloads, few or no opportunities for growth or advancement, unclear performance expectations - the list goes on. Why should employers try to reduce the causes of stress at work? Reducing work-related stress can be hugely beneficial to an employer:

  • Makes staff healthier and happier at work

  • Improves performance and makes staff more productive

  • Reduces absence levels

  • Reduces workplace disputes

  • Makes the organization more attractive to job seekers

Additionally, an employer has a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of its employees. As part of this, an employer must conduct risk assessments for work-related stress and take actions to prevent staff from experiencing a stress-related illness because of their work. The following are some tips that can help you and your employees cope and reduce stress in the workplace.

  1. Identify Your Sources

    Whenever you notice that you are stressed, try writing down what triggered it. Was it a meeting? A conversation with a coworker? A new project? Keep track of this as well as how you respond to those triggers. This will help you find patterns that can later help you determine how to better respond to those stressors.

  2. Take a Break

    Most people believe that if they work for a full 8-10 hours without stopping, they will get more work done. This isn’t necessarily true. When someone works all day without stopping, productivity actually goes down and stress levels go up. Not taking breaks will wear you out, leaving you with little energy for activities you may have later in the day, such as spending time with family and friends. Make sure to schedule small breaks throughout the day. Walk around the office, stretch at your desk, do breathing exercises, or even a quick word puzzle! Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you'll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.

  3. Eat Right & Sleep Well

    Everything that you put into your body will have an effect on it. Eating healthy foods will give your body energy, whereas eating poorly will leave you feeling less energized. Foods that are high in fat and calories can leave you feeling fatigued since they require more energy to digest. Some energy boosting foods to consider are asparagus, brown rice, avocados, berries, honey, apples, nuts, green tea, etc.

    It is well known that sleeping for at least 8 hours every night is very important for the body to recover. Not only does sleep help your body recover, but it also boosts your mood. When you get a good night sleep, you automatically feel better and are able to tackle the day’s stress with ease. When you are tired, you become less patient and more easily agitated, which in turn increases stress levels.

  4. Talk it Out

    Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor. The purpose of this isn't to lay out a list of complaints, but rather to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you've identified, so you can perform at your best on the job. While some parts of the plan may be designed to help you improve your skills in areas such as time management, other elements might include identifying employer-sponsored wellness resources you can tap into, clarifying what's expected of you, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and reduce strain.

  5. Take a Vacation

    If you’ve accrued paid vacation time, take it! This might seem like a no-brainer but a troubling number of American workers are not using their paid time off, despite the fact that one out of four people claim to be very busy or stressed. One of the main reasons people don’t use their paid time off is because they do not want to return to an overwhelming workload and are worried that they would be leaving the office in a stumble. Going on vacation is good for you and it’s good for the company, resulting in a well-rested employee with less stress, and therefore more productivity.

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/#327452527f29

http://www.hse.gov.uk