Workplace stress is a concept most if not all, adult Americans are familiar with. We spend the majority of the hours of our week at work, and if those hours are perpetually, significantly stressful, then our overall quality of life is going to feel anxious and stressful.
Unfortunately, we can’t simply will away our stress, nor is it feasible to rid our workplace of every single stress-inducing incident. What we can do, however, is know what triggers our stress and have an appropriate plan in place for what we’re going to do when those moments arise.
How to deal with stress at work
The more prepared you are to handle stress, the less overwhelmed you will feel when those moments occur. Thankfully, there are a number of tools you can put into practice to help.
1. Keep track of what increases your stress
If you are able to note what it is that increases your stress, you will be better able to avoid those situations. And if they’re entirely unavoidable, you will at least be able to craft a game plan for how to handle those situations when they arise.
Causes of workplace stress can include:
- Conflict with challenging coworkers
- Meetings with supervisors, management or HR
- Feeling powerless over workplace decisions
- A salary that is not comparable to the amount of work you put in
- Uncomfortable work environment
- Inadequate training
- Inappropriate expectations/the demand to complete projects under unrealistic deadlines
As you begin to identify the specific causes of anxiety in the workplace, you can begin developing solutions to help you manage them.
2. Minimize the number of stressors you handle
Knowing what specifically stresses you out about your job is an important first step; from here you can start to take control over stressful situations. While you probably cannot change all sources of personal stress, you may have control over some of them. For instance, you can schedule meetings with stressful coworkers on a different day than difficult meetings with your boss. Or, if you know you have an important deadline coming up, you can set a boundary for yourself and plan meetings after that assignment is completed.
3. If possible, change your workspace
Do you ever see a disaster in an office space and feel a small amount of panic from the sheer chaos of it all? Are you ever overwhelmed by the amount of stuff cluttering up your own workspace? Keeping a tidy and organized work environment can actually decrease the amount of stress you experience in a day. Struggling to keep track of important papers, files and documents can be a huge source of anxiety.
You can get organized by sorting everything into similar piles – pens and pencils in one, sticky notes in another, paper clips in a third. Then, sort them into a drawer organizer so you have easy access to them all. Organize books alphabetically; file documents and papers into color-coded folders. Whatever you need to do to minimize clutter-based stress, take the time to do it.
4. Learn ways to relax
It may sound funny, but it’s crucial to your mental health to find ways to relax at work. This may include keeping an adult coloring book in your desk drawer to mindlessly fill in while on a phone call; maybe you have a puzzle toy of sorts on your desk that you work on when you need a fifteen-minute break. Consider installing a standing desk to help with any feelings of restlessness you may experience from sitting.
Implement breaks throughout the day, including stretches, a few minutes to leave for a coffee or a trip to your coworker’s cubicle for a chat. However, you can provide yourself with some relaxation at work, taking the time to do so can mean the difference between an anxious day and a productive one.
5. Go outside
Getting into the fresh air is absolutely crucial for mental peace. Sit outside during your lunch break, keep your windows open on a nice day or ask if this meeting can be had outside while walking. The more time you can spend outside during your work day, the more refreshed you are likely to feel.
6. Set boundaries
If you are always saying yes to people, you probably end up taking on more work than you can actually handle. Practice saying no in a balanced manner; avoid getting angry at people, but be proactive in asserting your boundaries.
Ways you can set healthy boundaries at work include:
- Keeping meetings to an hour long, when possible
- Setting aside set times for breaks throughout the day
- Leaving when you’re scheduled to leave
- Not taking on more than you can handle – i.e. don’t be afraid to say no
- Leaving work at work – don’t accept work calls or answer work emails once you’re clocked out or home for the evening
While it can feel cold-shouldered to set boundaries, a lack of boundaries can actually be a leading cause of workplace-induced stress. For this reason, setting and maintaining those boundaries is important to your mental health and overall work productivity.
Seeking help for work stress and anxiety
Talking about stress and anxiety is actually another great way to find relief. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress caused by your job, you may find it helpful to talk with a mental health professional. The therapists at High Focus Centers help adults manage their stress in healthy ways through caring, affirming mental health counseling. Addressing stress early can help preserve mental health and talking to a therapist can be the first step.
To learn more, contact High Focus Centers by calling our offices at 800-877-3628 to get in touch with someone today.