Everyone experiences some stress at work whether it comes from a deadline, meeting a quota, or as a result of difficult coworkers. Problems arise when this stress becomes too much to manage and begins to influence long-term health. According the the Stress in America Survey from the American Psychological Association, 65 percent of Americans say work is a top source of stress.
Work stress can’t be completely eliminated. In fact, a manageable amount of stress helps to keep us motivated. But in order to keep stress from building to unhealthy levels, it’s important to create a plan to identify what causes you stress and how you will manage your reaction to it.
A messy, unorganized office can lead to feelings of stress and lack of control. When you organize files and purge unnecessary items, not only will you feel more in control of your work, but less time will be spent searching for things, which can improve productivity. Make your office an orderly space where you feel relaxed and not frazzled.
Prioritize and delegate
You likely feel pulled in many different directions at work with an endless to-do list. Prioritize your tasks each day. Create timelines for longer-term projects so that the tasks you need to complete are clearly outlined. A clearer picture of exactly what needs to be done will allow you to let go of frivolous tasks that keep you from accomplishing more important duties. You can then delegate those tasks to ease your workload and reduce the unnecessary stress that comes with them.
Talk it out
If you have too much to do, admit it. Talk out your work duties with your supervisor or team. Determine a plan to improve productivity and prioritize the most important tasks. Discussing your workload and your stress levels is often all it takes to get the help you need.
Deadlines and difficult coworkers can take you from relaxed to stressed in minutes. Take time to practice relaxation, which can help improve your stress response during challenging situations. Five to ten minutes of deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or visualization are easy ways to remain calm. The more you practice these techniques, the better you will get at managing stressful situations.
Find stress relievers
There may be little you can do with the stress that piles up at work, but you do have control of how you let this stress impact your daily life. It’s important to find stress-relieving activities that help clear your mind and give you a mental break from work. Exercise is an essential stress reliever. Whether you push yourself through a 20-minute high intensity interval workout or set out for a leisurely stroll, moving more helps to reduce stress. Turning to unhealthy foods in response to stress only results in sluggishness and weight gain that leads to even more stress. Choosing nutritious foods will keep you energized to face your work challenges. Adequate sleep and taking time for relaxing activities (like yoga, reading, and time with friends) are also important to reduce stress and improve health.
Use your time off
Many people fail to use time off because they are unable to take an extended vacation. But while a week at the beach is nice, short breaks can be equally beneficial. Simply using a vacation day on a Friday or Monday for a long weekend, or taking off an afternoon mid-week will give you a break from your work environment and allow you to enjoy a stress-relieving activity. Take advantage of this time, no matter how short, to create a healthy balance between work and time for yourself.