Each morning (or evening), as we head into the workplace, we are confronted by forces that can be considered opportunities or challenges. Opportunities can be exciting and yet stressful at the same time. And if not managed, they can turn into pressure-inducing challenges. These predicaments might present with different intensities and frequencies, but when the stressors pile up all at once, it can test a person’s resolve. So if you have some good coping skills when you have to face and overcome these trying times, it is a powerful thing.
When is workplace stress too much?
All stress is not a bad thing. Indeed, we all need a little bit of pressure to help us stay focused and meet new workplace challenges. It keeps us on the ball and prevents us from becoming careless and sloppy in our work performance or making costly mistakes.
But when stressors pile on one after another, it can leave us feeling worried, exhausted, and overwhelmed. And when the level of stress eclipses our ability to cope, it becomes counterproductive and causes damage to our well-being—as well as our job satisfaction. That is why it is essential to have good coping skills in your toolkit to handle stress.
MINIMIZING BAD STRESS
It’s unrealistic to think you can control everything in your work environment. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do either. When stress starts interfering with your work performance and even your health or personal life, the ball is in your court to take action and use good coping skills to lessen your overall stress levels and bring back a sense of control at work.
5 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO BEAT WORKPLACE STRESS
1. Develop a sound support system
Whether it be family, friends, or other co-workers, it is vital to have a listening ear. Sometimes all it takes to restore a sense of calm is being able to talk to someone and blow off a little steam. Not that they can fix your problems, but by just being a good listener, they are giving you support and sympathy. Having a solid support system in place can help shield you from not only the adverse effects of workplace stress but other stresses in other areas of your life.
2. Take care of your health
Often when overly focused on work, it’s easy to neglect other areas of your life that contribute to your physical health. When overwhelmed by stress, nutrition, exercise, and sleep seem to take a back seat, which is unfortunate because taking care of these needs helps you be stronger and more resilient to stress. If neglected, this coping skill will affect not only your work performance but also your personal life.
Three key areas to pay attention to
Exercise – Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, and dancing is the fastest way to get stress-busting benefits. That’s because this type of activity elevates your heart rate, which releases stress-reducing endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in your brain.
Nutrition – When you get stressed, your body craves empty carbs like sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as cheeseburgers and french fries. Sure, grabbing these feel-good foods might be soothing at the outset, but it will quickly lead to a crash and burn in your energy, making stress symptoms worse, not better. On the other hand, not eating enough can also make you feel anxious and irritable because your blood sugar level gets too low.
Along with nutrition, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about substances that people tend to turn to when stressed. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are all substances that may seem like mood lifters but, in fact, have the opposite effect. They might provide a temporary sense of calm, but they can actually cause anxiety and adversely affect your mood when they wear off.
Sleep – This one is a no-brainer, yet many of us fall into the bad habit of not getting a good night’s sleep. If we aren’t getting a good night’s rest, how can we then expect it not to interfere with our productivity, problem-solving skills, and ability to focus on the job?
Whether it’s making a change in your nightly routine to ensure you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Or making changes in your sleep environment, the better rested you are, the better equipped you will be to handle your job responsibilities and cope with workplace stress.
3. Prioritize and organize
When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by workplace stress, try these simple and practical steps to help you regain control:
- Try to maintain a balance between work and family life.
- Leave 10-15 minutes earlier for work, so you don’t feel rushed.
- Take regular mini-breaks throughout the workday to relax and recharge.
- Establish healthy boundaries with your time. Maintain periods of no work-related activities while at home in the evening or on weekends.
- Prioritize tasks and tackle the high-priority tasks first.
- Avoid scheduling tasks back-to-back, so you are not over-committing yourself.
- Break big projects into small steps rather than trying to take on everything at once.
- Step back and delegate responsibility. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
- Be willing to compromise with your boss or co-workers to find a happy middle ground.
4. Break bad habits that contribute to workplace stress
Practicing negative behaviors such as setting unrealistic goals for ourselves, trying to control things out of our control, always focusing on the downside of every situation, we have to realize we are making our job stress worse.
These are all self-defeating habits. If you can turn behaviors around, you’ll find employer-applied stress more comfortable to handle.
5. Look for satisfaction and meaning in your job
I don’t believe there is a job out there that is perfect. We would all like to be working our dream job, but it will remain just that: a dream for many of us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find something meaningful and rewarding in the job we now hold.
If you look hard enough, you should find purpose and joy where you are now. Try to focus on how your contributions help others. Focus on aspects of your job that you enjoy, even if it’s just the camaraderie you share with your fellow workers. Changing your attitude about your career will go a long way towards helping you regain a sense of purpose and control.
So, no matter what your work demands, it’s comforting to know that with these good coping skills in place, you have the tools at hand to relieve the pressures of workplace stress. Another great way to learn more strategies to manage stress is to work with an anxiety coach through breakthrough coaching. They can help you discover and master anxiety relief techniques that can improve your job satisfaction and give a boost to your well-being on and off the job.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. Together, we can work on strategies that will have you feeling more capable and competent to perform at your best.