Workplace stress can be bad for your health, stop you performing at your best and prevent you reaching your full potential. Thankfully there are plenty of ways in which you can reduce work stress starting now. Here are fifteen proven ways.
1. Reach out to others and speak up
You may find that talking about stress with others helps. Telling others about your thoughts and feelings, helps you let off steam, making things easier to deal with going forwards. Don’t assume that other people know what is going on inside your mind – the likelihood is they don’t.
Talk to your manager if you are struggling with your workload or finding certain aspects of work overwhelming. Your manager is likely to respect you for doing so and want to help. It is likely that he or she may have the power to do something about making your work more manageable. Perhaps they can help setting more realistic expectations and targets, provide more on the job support, arrange additional training, or agree to more flexible working arrangements.
It doesn’t just have to be your manager you choose to speak to. Sometimes it’s good to talk to someone you feel you can confide in about your work related stress – such as a close colleague or even friends and family. If there is something of a serious or sensitive nature that you don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager about, consider speaking or writing to your HR department.
2. Build and foster relationships
It’s never too late to build new meaningful friendships or rekindle existing ones with people both inside and outside your work environment. Try to get to know people on a personal level. Show a genuine interest in colleagues and people you meet outside work. Ask them how their weekend was and what plans they have for tonight.
You may find that meeting new friends or catching up with old ones gives you a new lease of life. This is likely to help you take your mind off work. What’s more, socialising broadens your support network and the people you can turn to.
3. Look after yourself
Sometimes in life you have to be selfish and when it comes to looking after yourself this holds true. Make time for regular exercise, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, get your sleep and find time to relax every day.
Try to do some aerobic exercise every day at an intensity that makes you sweat. This will increase your heart rate, lift your mood, and make you feel more energised, focused and relaxed.
Eat healthily and minimise the amount of sugar and refined carbs you eat as these can lead to a drop in your energy and mood. Avoid consuming caffeine, highly processed foods, chemical preservatives and trans fats as these can also adversely affect mood.
You may also want to consider taking stress relief supplements. Expert formulated supplements such as our very own stress relief supplements include specially selected ingredients that help your body combat stress and replenish depleted vitamins and minerals required to keep your body functioning normally.
Work on improving the quality of your sleep. Stick to a routine of when you go to bed and wake up (if you are not working shifts). Start winding down an hour before you intend to fall asleep. Turn off screens, avoid stimulating or stressful activities and start to relax. This will help keep levels of the sleep promoting hormone, melatonin higher and suppress adrenaline. Target 8 hours sleep to operate at your optimal level.
Meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises can be great ways to relax. Alternatively, shut yourself in a silent room and read a book or listen to your favourite music.
4. Take regular breaks
Make a habit of taking regular breaks throughout the day even if it’s just to have a chat with a colleague, five minutes away to make a drink or a few minutes here and there to do a breathing exercise. Try to eat your meals away from your desk if possible and don’t feel pressurised to return as soon as possible.
Taking regular breaks throughout the day helps to take your mind off what is causing you to feel stressed. It can help you recharge and become more productive.
5. Don’t be afraid to say no
Don’t agree to take on more than you can reasonably handle including unrealistic deadlines and overwhelming workloads. Say no or push back. As long as you have a justifiable reason no one can hold it against you.
You shouldn’t live to work! Don’t feel pressurised to be on call 24/7 for work emails and calls. It is important to give yourself time off from work altogether. This may mean not checking your work emails during the evenings and not agreeing to meetings whilst on holiday.
If you need to leave on time, leave on time. Perhaps you are playing in a sports match or want to put your child to bed. Communicate your plans with your boss with plenty of advance notice so that your workload can be managed and still completed on time. There will be times when you may have to compromise.
6. Prioritise tasks
Rank all outstanding tasks according to their importance. Tackle high priority tasks first and try not to avoid or delay starting them if they are unpleasant. If you have any questions about which tasks are the highest priority speak to your manager.
If you find a task overwhelming, break it down into smaller more manageable steps so that you don’t feel you have to tackle everything at the same time. Don’t think you have to do it all by yourself. You may also find that you are able to delegate certain aspects of your work so that you have less to do.
7. Be positive
A negative mentality can sap all your energy and motivation leading to even more work stress. What’s more, being surrounded by other colleagues with negative attitudes is not enjoyable, worsens moral and makes it harder for you to be positive.
The key is to try not to focus on the negatives of every situation. Instead try to pick out the positives and focus on these. After completing a task, ask yourself, “how did I do?” remembering to pick out some positive points. Be grateful for what you have, what you are good at, what went well and give yourself a pat on the back for these.
8. Focus on things under your control
There’s plenty of things at work over which you have little or no control over. It is important that that you do not spend time thinking about these or getting worked up as there is nothing you can do to change things. Instead you should focus your thinking capacity and energy on things you can control.
For instance, it may be difficult to control the behaviour of a senior colleague, however you can control the way in which you think and react to him or her. Conserve your mental and emotional energy for things you can control.
9. Tidy up your workspace
A messy workspace or desk can contribute to work related stress. Not only may the clutter be stressful to look at, it can be harder to know where things are and to find things. A messy workplace is sometimes also construed as the sign of a disorganised mind. Research has shown that an untidy work environment can lead to poorer lifestyle choices. It found that people with untidy work places were less likely to eat healthily and exercise.
Get in the routine of spending two minutes before you leave every day to tidy your workspace and throw away any unnecessary items. When you arrive the following day you will be ready to hit the ground running.
10. Take time off
It is important that you take time off to avoid additional work related stress and potential burnout. Take all your holidays as this will give you the chance to recover from the toils of work, recharge your batteries and take perspective. You can also consider taking sick days or request a temporary leave of absence due to your stress or mental state. Remember health comes first – always!
When you are taking time off, take your mind off work to receive the full benefits. Do something you enjoy that is different, turn off your work phone and leave it out of sight. If it is necessary to check your emails, abide by strict rules such as checking them once a day.
11. Look for satisfaction and meaning in your work
Feeling bored or unsatisfied about your job for large swathes of time can be soul destroying and lead to stress. You need to understand that the grass is always greener to some degree and your dream job is likely to have some aspects that you are still unsatisfied with.
The key is to try and change your attitude about your current job by finding aspects which you are satisfied about. For example, this could be the positive changes to the world your company enables or the satisfaction you are able to give thousands of customers every year.
12. Be honest and polite to your colleagues
Being respectful to the people in your workplace creates a more friendly, and positive working environment. This may make the workplace somewhere you actually want to go to and spend time in. There’s nothing more toxic than working in a negative, disrespectful work environment. Treat other people in a way you would want yourself or a close family member to be. Say please and thank you, smile and ask colleagues how they are.
It’s a lot easier to get along with the people you work with than not. Doing so also enables you to further foster relationships and reap the benefits. They are more likely to be nice to you in return, help you out and be your advocate.
13. See the funny side of things
When used appropriately, a little humour in the workplace can ease things up a little and help to relieve stress in tense situations. Try not to take things including yourself too seriously all the time. Find ways to lighten the mood or try to make people laugh or smile by cracking a joke or a funny story.
14. Develop coping strategies
Doing something about workplace stress is likely to reduce it. The trouble is that experiencing some stress is normal so you need to be prepared how to cope when it next appears.
The key is to develop coping strategies so that you can limit the impact. Once you are aware that you are becoming stressed you should try to bring these into play. There are many coping strategies so you need to learn which ones suit you best in different situations. Some may be great in certain situations but less appropriate in others.
You can use a calming strategy such as a breathing exercise, meditation or aromatherapy. Breathing exercises are probably the easiest to perform at a workspace but meditation may be possible if you have a quiet breakout area or quiet room. Even though meditation and aromatherapy may be difficult in a workspace they can still be used at home to relieve work stress.
Alternatively, you can try to change your perception of the situation by thinking positively and focusing more on the good things. You can also try visualisation strategies, where you create a mental picture in your mind of a calm or relaxing place to help get your mind off things.
Finally, you can take actions to change the circumstances that you face. Perhaps you can improve your time management techniques or speak to your manager or HR team.
15. Don’t be afraid to try something else
If you have exhausted these methods to relieve work place stress and the stress is still unbearable don’t be afraid to consider another role – life is too short to suffer! Perhaps you can firstly seek alternative roles within the same company or if this is not possible you can look externally. If you are unable to find an external role after a while and your stress levels are not improving, you could consider resigning for the sake of your health.
We all know how bad work related stress can be for you and your health. Thankfully stress management in the workplace need not be hard and there are plenty of potential solutions. Start with the low hanging fruit solutions - these are the ones which require least effort from your end but go the furthest in dealing with stress at work.
This article was created for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views of For Chaps Ltd. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.