Job and workplace stress is one of the biggest sources of stress in today’s world. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 70 percent of Americans cite workplace stress as causing significant stress in their lives. That stress extends far beyond the office; the stress from a job can affect personal or professional relationships. It can also affect your health. In fact, work-related stresses increase your risk of heart disease.
You don’t have to suffer endlessly because of this stress. Here are a few steps you can take to make work healthier for you.
Keep a stress journal for a week. Record what events or people increased your stress level. Note how each situation made you feel, how you responded, and what you wish was different. Then review your journal after several days.
What is one stressor you think you can change? Maybe it’s how you react to last-minute deadlines or how you respond when a colleague is late with something. Make that stressor a priority — brainstorm ways it could be resolved differently, decide on a game plan for change, then implement it.
If that tactic doesn’t work, try another until you’ve found a strategy that works for you. Once you’ve lessened the effects of one stressor on your life, move on to the next.
Swamped. Overloaded. Overwhelmed. Drowning in papers. We’ve all been there, and it’s not a great place to be.
Make your workload work for you to the extent you control your daily schedule. Time-management skills are vital to planning, prioritizing, and completing tasks. Set hourly or daily goals, but be realistic. If there’s no way you will complete a project in two days, do not push yourself. If, in the end, you’re left with some extra time after completing your project, consider it a few spare moments you can catch up on email, get ahead on your next task, or fight stress with some deep breathing at your desk.
It can be nerve-racking to ask your boss or colleague for help, but if it keeps you from getting behind or making costly errors, mustering up the courage to ask is absolutely worthwhile.
They might have valuable insight or information that can help you do your job better and faster. In many cases, people will often respect you more for opening up and making your stress known.
There is a lot to be said for 15-minute breaks. When you allow yourself to walk away from your desk for a moment, you clear your brain and refresh your internal work batteries. Just don’t reach for a cigarette while you’re taking a break. Nicotine acts similarly to stress on your body, keeping it in a tense state. Instead, do some stretching at your desk or in the break room, or sit outside and enjoy some sunshine.
Desperate for a quick pick-me-up? Think a cup of coffee is just what the doctor ordered? Not so fast. Research has shown that coffee or caffeine isn’t the best source of energy. Instead, take a quick walk outside. The natural scenery gives you a boost of energy, as does the exercise. In fact, 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is just as beneficial as one 30-minute session.
Leave work at work. When you take the stressors of your nine-to-five home with you, you never get a break. Use visualization to help you with this. When you get to your car at the end of your day, picture all of your work responsibilities being left behind. They’ll still be there tomorrow.
As you drive away, picture them getting further and further from your mind. Once home, don’t worry about work-related things if you don’t have to. You’ll come to realize that you usually don’t have to.
Stress management is a skill. For many of us, it’s a skill that we have yet to master. However, as with any skill, practice can help. Making a few small changes in the way you do things can lessen the negative effects of work-related stress on your life and health.