How to Prevent Stress in the WorkplaceNovember 24, 2014 - By: Jason Carney
Job-related stress is a growing problem in the American workplace. In an international poll conducted by employment website Monster.com, 84 percent of respondents claim that their stressful job has impacted their personal lives, while 42 percent of American workers have purposefully changed jobs due to a stressful work environment. Despite this alarming new trend, there are numerous ways to help prevent stress in the workplace. Here are some suggestions for dealing with job-related stress:
Recognize the signs
The first step in preventing stress in the workplace is recognizing the signs that you’re feeling stressed. According to the CDC, some common warning signs of stress are headache, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job dissatisfaction and low morale.
Identify the problem
Once you realize that you’re struggling with stress, it’s important to identify what is causing these feelings. Do you have a big project coming up that’s using up all your time and energy? Are you having a hard time getting along with a coworker? Are you just generally dissatisfied with your job? Identifying your stressors will help you figure out a plan to cope with them.
Take a deep breath
Deep breathing exercises are a great way to cool down in tense situations and regain focus. Whenever you’re feeling angry about a situation at work, take a couple minutes to yourself and take deep breaths—in through the mouth and out through the nose—until you feel better. This can help combat stress in the moment, right when it happens to avoid building on negative feelings.
The best way to combat a busy schedule is to get organized. Plan out the week ahead first thing Monday morning, spreading out your tasks throughout the week and giving ample time to complete them all. Be sure to schedule short, 10 to 15 minute breaks throughout the day to give yourself a chance to recover and re-energize. Do pop up projects stress you out? You can even schedule time out of your day to plan for these disruptions, helping you better manage this stressor.
In addition to getting organized, it’s important to prioritize your tasks. List them out in order of importance, focusing on the high-priority items first. This will help reduce the stress of having to rush through your most important duties at the last minute.
Delegate, if possible
If after organizing and prioritizing there still isn’t time to get everything done, delegate some of your duties to others, if you’re in a position to do so. Not only will this take some of the load off your back and make life easier for you, but it will also help develop trust between yourself and your coworkers.
Take time off
Just like taking breaks helps you re-energize throughout the day, taking time off from work will help you wind down and recharge for the long term. Vacations help you maintain your health and come back to work at your best, and many people experience moments of creativity and inspiration while on vacation. However, this will only work best if you truly unplug from work life— that means no phone calls or even quick emails checks. Even if you’re just spending a night or a weekend together with family or friends, distance yourself from your work life so you can focus on your personal life. Soon you might find yourself turning your phone off or even leaving it behind.
Take care of yourself
While stress may appear to be mostly mental, taking care of yourself physically is critical to reducing stress. Eating healthy foods will keep your body energized throughout the day, while getting a sufficient amount of sleep gives your body a chance to fully recover overnight. Exercise is a great stress reliever, especially aerobic exercise which boosts your mood and increases energy levels.
Ask for and accept support
One of the worst things a person can do with their stress is to keep it bottled up inside of them until they blow up. Go to trusted family and friends for support. It will give you a chance to vent about your feelings and gain a different perspective on how to handle what you’re going through.
While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate stress in the workplace completely, these tips will help you cope with stress when it does occur and prevent it from becoming a long-term problem.