Stress at Work – Coping Strategies That Work
Stress is very much a part of life these days, perhaps even more so in the workplace, with escalating pressures becoming the norm. Too much stress can impact health negatively leading to ill-health and even, burnout. But, there are strategies to combat stress at work.
When is stress at work good?
Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In the right circumstances, stress can increase your energy levels, improve mental clarity and focus and even, help you to rise to new challenges. But, when stress levels increase, and you feel as if you are on a roller-coaster, stress can tip the balance between being challenged and the downwards spiral of health. Too much stress at work can sap your energy levels and affect your performance on a daily basis. Even though we all know that we must strive to combat stress, it’s very difficult to do so if the job is important and, there are great expectations to perform well.
People become stressed at work for a variety of reasons. We may feel concerned that we will lose our jobs, especially if there is a need to remain employed. Working long hours for no extra pay? Unfortunately, when you strive for more responsibility at work, this is often expected. New bosses or unhelpful colleagues also increase the negative aspects of the workplace and, can create toxic environments. When it gets to the point that you dread going into work, something must change.
What are the warning signs of stress at work?
If you have lost your ‘get up and go’ and you are feeling less than interested in work, you may be displaying the symptoms of stress. Other symptoms include headaches, fatigue, a lack of concentration, difficulties sleeping well, feeling anxious or irritable with everyone around you. You may want to have time out of the rat race and feel completely out of sorts. These may be the common symptoms of stress caused through too much pressure in the workplace but, there are very physical symptoms of stress which can become serious.
Combating stress at work
If you have a good set of colleagues and friends around you, this may help to defuse daily stressors. Often, you can discuss your day with others who share similar pressures. This act of collaborative moaning at the pressures of work will help you to feel calmer. You can smile about the ever-rising stack of paperwork on your desk. This is not always possible however, if you are in a position of authority and cannot show your true emotions to those who report into you.
Your family will provide an important an amount of support and will help you to defuse your tension and stress when you get home although, where possible, it’s best to leave all the workplace stress back at the workplace. This is not always possible but you don’t want feelings of stress to spill over into your home life.
Physical health and well-being
When your job is pressured or, you are feeling a little overwhelmed with workplace antics, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the pressures of the day. You may suddenly realize that you have worked through lunch or, you haven’t consumed enough water and you now have the tell-tale throb of dehydration starting. Sometimes, you may feel chained to your work space as if you have no option but to keep your head down and to carry on working. But, it’s really important to get out into the fresh air where possible and to clear your head. A twenty-minute break is vital, and it really will help to restore your powers of concentration and make you feel a little more resilient to stress. Make sure you eat healthily, and you try to avoid snacking on unhealthy foods.
Exercise is also important. If you can spend 30 minutes a day on aerobic activity, this should keep your fitness and energy levels up, so try walking to work where possible rather than driving. Practice yoga during your lunch break, even if it is just for a few minutes to stretch out and to untangle those tension knots. If you can find a quiet space, you could practice chair yoga. Exercise has numerous health benefits but, it also helps to de-stress and to offset the pressures.
Sleep is another important factor if you want to combat stress. If you wish to deal with the problems of life generally, sleep patterns must be improved. Of course, it’s not always easy to sleep. If your head is cluttered with work issues and to-do lists, this is bound to keep you awake. It’s so important to try to switch off and to sleep deeply as sleep is restorative. When you are rested, you will be able to work more efficiently. Stressors of the day will have a lesser impact on you and your problem-solving skills will be much improved.
Stress management tips
Offsetting workplace stress and having a decent home life is vital. There has to be balance in life. This is all in the planning. Try to organize a schedule that works for you. Leave for work in plenty of time in the morning. Plan your day so that you can fit in some breaks so to recharge your focus. If you are able to, let people know when you are available during those ‘out of work’ times or, if you are not, say so. Unfortunately, company phones have kept people connected to work constantly and this is very unhealthy. Learn to say no to new workloads if it is not possible to cope with them. Far from people thinking you are being awkward, they will respect your honesty and authority.
Change your mindset
It’s easy to feel under-valued in the workplace. If you can communicate to others or, to speak directly to your boss, this should settle your mind. Negative thinking will drain energy levels and instigate that which you dread i.e. more negativity coming back at you.
Going with the flow
Sometimes, it is impossible to control your environment or, to complete every task that is allocated to you. Regardless of the situation, try to go with the flow. There are some things that are just outside of your remit and getting stressed is therefore, pointless. Focus only on those aspects which are relevant to you.
Laugh your way into a good mood
On some days, stress levels may rise dramatically and it’s easy to lose your sense of humor completely. But, if you can tune into humor, you may well find that you lighten your own mood. This can help to offset the stresses of the day, but more than this, it enables you to be more proactive as you feel less stressed.
There are many types of meditation and you can utilize these to combat stress at work. Utilizing a mindfulness meditation first thing in the morning can help to bring you into the present moment. It calms the mind, afford greater clarity of thoughts, and opens you up to the potential of the day. Although it isn’t a magical solution where you practice once and suddenly, the stresses of the day melt way, it provides a fantastic way of increasing your resistance to stressors. This makes you feel more relaxed while doing so and that’s a great way to be.
When you live and work in a fast-paced or stressful environment, where urgent deadlines become the norm or, where there are difficulties around you, meditation is the perfect foil to offset this. Some people around you will not show any evidence of stress, but everyone experiences stress, some mask it better. This does not make it less detrimental for their health.
The positive elements
Regular meditation brings balance into life. It aids problem-solving, to think creatively, and to analyze from a safe place. It is as if creating space between yourself and the problem. Meditation is so versatile, use it to reduce stress and to harmonize the mind and body which can offset ill-health. But, it’s also good for recharging the batteries and this increases resistance to those daily stressors. Even ten-minutes a day can make a big difference.
Meditation helps you to find a quiet space and to give back to yourself, to nurture who you are. It enables you to switch off from criticisms, both internal and external and, to understand more about you. You also gain an idea as to how you cope when under pressure. Largely, understanding how stress impacts you through making key changes to how you work and through meditation, will enable you to deal with the stresses as they arise. Then, you can neatly side-step those that need not affect you.
In conclusion, combating stress at work is vital. If left unresolved, it can be greatly damaging to health. Sadly, many people do not have complete awareness of the negative powers of stress. They don’t fully understand how it can infiltrate every aspect of life. This is very dangerous. It can be prevented by taking a resolute stance against stress and making key, and sometimes, subtle changes which can make a huge difference to health and well-being and, to work productivity. Ultimately, a good work-life balance is paramount.