10 Simple Ideas for Managing Stress at Work

managing stress at work

Managing stress at work can be vital for our long term health and well-being. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. However, managing stress at work can be difficult because we may feel our ability to take action is limited. With a mixture of office politics, difficult co-workers and bosses, and challenging deadlines, managing stress at work can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Unfortunately, stress can lead to a range of health issues if not managed.  Stress often shows up first as more regular episodes of cold and flu. Left unchecked, this can lead to more serious stress-related illness. For most most people it’s not about finding a less stressful job, but about finding ways t manages stress at work.

The key to managing stress at work is to understand where it comes from and develop ways to deal with it.  That’s why I want to share ten of my favorite methods you can use for managing stress at work.

 There are many potential causes of stress at work. These can include personal conflict, work deadlines, dealing with a difficult boss or co-worker and challenges with projects and work deadlines.  Work stress and also impact our family and social life and can even involve uncertainty about our work situation.

Managing Stress at Work – #1 – What Creates Your Stress?

Personal awareness is the key starting point for managing stress at work. Start to note what situations are creating your stress at work. Once you become more aware of the triggers of your stress, it’s possible to apply a range of techniques to manage, reduce or remove yourself from it. Stressful situations at work can vary over time, so make sure you regularly review what creates stress for you.

managing stress at work -overload

Managing Stress at Work – #2 – Work Overload

We all need a small amount of stress in our life to keep us motivated to complete tasks. However, when it reaches the stage of work overload it’s important to recognize the difference and take action.

The best solution I have found is to quantify or measure your overload and then ask for help. When you quantify any issue most bosses will accept your situation and provide extra human resources to help. If your boss can’t or won’t agree to your valid requests to relieve work overload, it may be time to consider a job or career change. Any good leader should be willing to support anyone with valid work overload, particularly if it continues to create work stress.

managing stress at work -organized

Managing Stress at Work – #3 – Getting Organized

In our world of heavy traffic, road rage and busy lifestyles we can often arrive at work already stressed. In my case, the busier I become the more well organized I find I need to be. Being well organized with your time and tasks can dramatically reduce work stress. The simple act of writing down your priorities can help reduce mental stress and allow you be more efficient with your time. By working through a well-planned priority list you can focus your precious time on the important issues one at a time.  Getting organized should also include planning time for a nutritious breakfast each morning as well as regular mini-breaks to avoid mental overload and fatigue. I have more specifics about these planned mini-breaks later in this post.

managing stress at work -conflict

Managing Stress at Work – #4 – Conflict

Conflict at work can be toxic to our health and the health of any culture. Avoiding conflict with some co-workers can be difficult to manage or escape. The best tactic hear is to avoid conflict situations as much as possible. This often involves not gossiping about office politics and limiting our opinions on any hot button topics like politics and religion. There will always be some people in any work environment that seem to create most of the conflict. If you can avoid working with these people, great. However, if you can’t, you may need to escalate any specific issues to a manager.

managing stress at work -clarity

Managing Stress at Work – #5 – Work Clarity

Nothing stresses me more that working on a job where I’m not totally sure of what is expected of me. So, if you’re not sure of any job requirements, make sure you ask. Often work requirements can change over time or within a project. As soon as you feel any stress related to what you are expecting to achieve, make sure you seek clarification. Stumbling along in the dark is not helping you, your team or your company. If in doubt, ask for help or clarification.

managing stress at work -multi-tasking

Managing Stress at Work – #6 – The Myth of Multitasking

I always thought I was great at multi-tasking…phone on my ear while I using a calculator to complete another task. Unfortunately for me, this was merely a source of more stress but also introduced a high level of error that needed fixing later. Over time, it becomes clear that our minds work most effectively and efficiently when we focus on one issue at a time.

The more we try to multi-task the less we actually actually achieve. Also, this often overloads our mind and creates mind stress which can leave us feeling mentally drained.  So, the solution is to apply the core principal of mindfulness. Give your total attention to one thing and then when complete move onto the next.

Using this method, it’s possible to put a group of similar tasks together. Simply complete one, then move your total attention to the next. By grouping tasks like this you keep your mind working in a state of peak performance. Brain fade can become a thing of the past.

managing stress at work -movement

Managing Stress at Work – #7 – Get Moving

It’s so easy to build up stress in our body if we spend a lot of time working at a desk. One great way to overcome this is to plan some movement into your day. This can be as simple as doing some muscle stretches or to take a walk at lunch time. So, if you suffer form muscle stress, don’t forget to plan some opportunity for movement into your day. This is particularly important if you are working on a big project that might keep you focused all day.  Some planned movement or gentle exercise during the day can help your body and mind stay fresh and energized.

managing stress at work - mindfulness

Managing Stress at Work – #8 – Mindset

Moving and stretching your body is a great way to relieve stress and tension in our body. However, long periods of work activity can leave our minds struggling to stay focused and effective. One of the most powerful methods I have found to keep my mind working at it’s peak is to take regular mini-breaks to complete a short mindfulness exercise. Within a few minutes these can help you to banish any feelings of stress and mental fatigue. Here are three simple mindfulness exercises you can try today.

managing stress at work -ergomomic

Managing Stress at Work – #9 – Get Comfortable

Once source of work stress that is often overlooked is the work environment and physical comfort. If you sit at a desk, make sure it’s adjusted correctly to suit you. One of the biggest sources of body stress is using a laptop on a desk. This can create very poor posture where  we are constantly looking downward towards the screen. Over time, this can create major issues with neck and shoulder muscles which can lead to pinched nerves. I am speaking from personal experience here. If you use a desk top or laptop, make sure your screen and your eyes are at approximately the same level. By doing this you are able to maintain a healthy posture which is a great way to reduce body stress.

If you would like to learn more about desk ergonomics, here are some guidelines from UC Berkely.

managing stress at work -pareto principle

Managing Stress at Work – #10 – 80/20 Rule

We like to think that we do great work. However, perfectionism can become a huge source of work stress. which I learned the hard way. As a perfectionist, I would rework projects and tasks multiple times because I new the work wasn’t perfect.  My own solution to this has been to use the eighty-twenty rule or Pareto’s Principle. The basic idea hear is that Pareto proved that 80% of the any effects come from 20% of the causes.

As a perfectionist, this meant I had to agree what were the critical outcomes (the 20%) and once I completed these, I would then force myself to stop. Defining the key success elements up form would stop me from going and going over every little item which often added very little value.

Another way to look at this is to define any work around three criteria:

  • Must Have
  • Could Have
  • Not Needed.

When you break down your jobs in advance using these three criteria, put all your effort into completing the ‘must have’ list.  To counter-act your perfectionist tendency stop working as soon as you have completed the ‘must have’ items. You will find very quickly that this does not diminish the quality of your work in any way. By using this method you often find that you have automatically complied with Pareto’s Principle.

Moving Forward

Managing stress at work is vital for your continued health and well-being. Become more aware of what creates stress for you at work and take action to solve this. Stress related illness can creep up on us over time so don’t delay.
Here are some related posts you may also enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *