The unfortunate thing about stress in the workplace is that you can’t really avoid it. Jobs can be stressful even if you love the one you’ve got. But there are definite ways to ease the pressure. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to be less stressed at work so you can reign in your stress and improve your mental health.
11 ways to be less stressed at work
Having less stress at work comes easy to a lucky few and seems like a pipe dream to others. But anyone can find ways to be less stressed at work. It’s all about the stress management skills you pick up along the way. Below are a few new strategies you can try for a healthy stress response that can help you keep your cool.
- Write down your triggers
- Find healthier responses
- Keep work and personal time separate
- Take some time off
- Don’t overwhelm yourself
- Organize your space
- Eat and sleep well
- Stay out of conflict
- Take a moment
- Take control of interruptions
- Talk to your boss
1Write down your triggers
The first step to fighting your stress is figuring out what causes it in the first place. Maybe you handle team meetings fine, but by the time you’re back at your desk, you’re coiled like a spring. Write down everything you did from point A to point B to really narrow down your potential triggers. Did you talk to someone you don’t trust yet? Did the anxiety of speaking in your meeting catch up to you? Whatever it is, jotting things down can help you find it and start figuring out how to cope.
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2Find healthier responses
There are all kinds of unhealthy ways to ease your job stress, but too much of that won’t do your body any favors. On the other hand, any sort of physical activity can help keep you calm (and manage your health while you’re at it).
For example, the next time your stress starts overtaking you, try taking a long walk around the office building or doing some light yoga.
3Keep work and personal time separate
Your time is your time – make sure your team knows it too. Feeling like you’re always on-call can bring work stress into your personal life, leaving you little room to breathe easy. Instead, set up boundaries to make it clear that you’ll handle any issues that come up while you’re off the clock once you’re back.
4Take some time off
Sometimes, the only thing that can reduce stress levels when they’re peaking is a full disconnect from work. So take time off from work to travel somewhere or stay at home in your PJs and catch up on your favorite shows. Do anything as long as it keeps your mind off of the job.
5Don’t overwhelm yourself
Few things are more stressful than driving to work and seeing a to-do list that reaches the parking lot. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you give every task the same level of importance. But if you take a closer look, a response email is probably a lower priority than, say, a budget report. If you organize all your assignments with this in mind, that giant to-do list might start looking a lot more manageable.
6Organize your space
An uncluttered space means an uncluttered mind. Just clocking in and walking up to a desk that’s clear and organized can do wonders for your mental health. Plus, knowing exactly where to find things when you need them can reduce your stress too.
7Eat and sleep well
There’s nothing like a hearty, healthy breakfast after a good night’s sleep. But sometimes, finding the time for either can be challenging. A busy lifestyle can make it tough to form healthy habits, but let’s face it – there’s no coping with stress when you’re hungry and exhausted.
With a little editing to your morning routine and nightly habits, you can make time for good meals and a full night’s rest. That’s exactly what you need to face the day.
8Stay out of conflict
You know what causes stress? Drama. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s, getting caught in the middle of it almost always makes for stressful situations. It’s easy enough to avoid conflict that isn’t your own, but it’s a little trickier when you’re at the center. The best thing to do in that situation is to resolve the drama as soon as possible. Try a few conflict resolution strategies or bring up the issue with a manager. Your stress should gradually fade.
9Take a moment
What’s the first thing you do when you experience a sudden setback? If your answer was panic, well, you’re not alone, but it’s still not the best response. When you’re panicked, you can overreact to problems, and that, in turn, can lead to solutions that only make the issue worse. Instead, when something unexpected happens, stop, take a deep breath, consider your options, and choose the best one to solve the problem.
For example, taking a moment can also include taking breaks, removing yourself from an issue that is causing you stress and coming back to solve it once you feel a lot more calm.
10Take control of interruptions
Emails, instant messages, phone calls – you’re bombarded with all kinds of distractions throughout the day. Responding to them all just doesn’t leave enough time for your actual work. The thing is, you don’t have to respond to them the very second you get them. Instead, designate a block of time in your schedule where you only respond to messages, separating this from when you work on more important tasks. You’ll likely feel less pulled in every direction – as in, less stressed.
11Talk to your boss
If all else fails, talk to your manager about your issues with stress. A struggling team member should be the last thing your manager wants because this directly impacts job performance. They can do plenty of things to help you, and even knowing that they’re in your corner can help you cope with stress better.
For example, talk to your boss during your one-on-one meetings to discuss what next steps you can take to feel better and less stressed at work.
“Being validated in your opinion, and being validated in the courage that it takes to speak up, is something that we should celebrate and something that will help encourage discussion in different power dynamics.”– Danielle Leong, Director of Engineering at Github
What contributes to stress at work?
Almost anything can cause stress – it just depends on your mood and what you’ve been dealing with already. Still, certain things definitely cause more stress than others, and a few of the more common things that can lead to stress are below.
Money is one of the most common causes of stress, especially at work. You’ve got bills to pay, groceries to buy, and hobbies to pursue. Only making enough money to choose two of those options can weigh heavily on your mind.
Too much work is also a common stressor. Everyone has limits on how much work they can handle without taking a break. It’s challenging going to work every day after you’ve reached yours.
Poor growth opportunities
Most people don’t handle stagnation well. Doing the same thing day in and day out with no challenges or changes can start to feel like a dead end after a while. The idea of being in the same situation years later can lead right to burnout.
Spending your day doing easy work may seem ideal at first, but the reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If your job responsibilities don’t challenge you, they might bore you instead. And when you can’t find any satisfaction with your work, all that’s left is the stress of doing it.
Lack of support
Knowing you have a stronger support network behind you can help even big problems seem easy to solve, and the opposite is true too. If there’s no one around to give advice or lend a hand, then every problem can end up feeling like a crisis. And it probably goes without saying that having any crisis on your shoulders – let alone more than one – can make it hard to relax.
How do you do a job without clear instructions or undefined expectations? For many, the answer is to wing it and hope for the best, but that often leaves them second-guessing everything they do. And as if that’s not stressful enough, if you guess wrong, that could be hours of work down the drain.
No stress for success
Stress can come from all kinds of directions, and healthy responses to it can make a world of difference. For example, a heavy workload sometimes seems impossible, but organized notes, deadlines, and a clear to-do list can make a loaded plate much more manageable. You can create all three with Fellow’s professional note-taking and task assignment features. It makes prioritizing tasks easier so you can avoid stress – and keep working at your best.