How Do I Avoid Stress
You may be surprised to hear it, but you can control much of the pressure in your life! Often, we create work-related stress for ourselves through bad planning or by setting unrealistic expectations.
Its easier said than done, but having some basic techniques at your disposal can help you avoid many of the stressful situations that a lot of people experience:
- Dont leave things to the last minute.
- Dont say “yes” whenever youre asked to take on a new piece of work.
- Take steps to motivate yourself and avoid procrastination.
- Learn to plan ahead and prioritise.
This last point is perhaps the most important of all. If you have two weeks to revise for an exam, and try to learn the whole syllabus, youll go into the exam hall feeling stressed and worn out. Far better to use your time to learn the most important content thoroughly.
And of course, an even better example of good planning would be to start your revision earlier and make sure you do have time to cover everything!
Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast
Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares the value of listening to others, featuring psychiatrist Mark Goulston.
Unfortunately, active listening is a skill that not everybody knows, and its common for people to think theyre listening, while in their heads theyre actually formulating their next response, thinking to themselves how wrong the other person is, or doing things other than trying to understand the other persons perspective. Its also common to be so defensive and entrenched in your own perspective that you literally cant hear the other persons point of view.
Bonus: Kick Your Bad Habits
Managing stress at work is partially about your mindset. Your outlook can have a huge impact on your ability to cope with everyday stressors. Keep them in check so they dont become major sources of negative stress. Here are a few tips to change your mindset by break the bad habits that are holding you back:
- Stay positive.
- One way to do this is to express gratitude. Its surprising how much different your outlook is when you make a point to recognize the people and things in your life that youre lucky to have.
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Spend Some Time Thinking About How You Approach Stress
Start by considering the following questions to help you plan a positive, interviewer-focused answer that shows youve thought about your relationship to stress:
- What were the causes of the stressful situation?
- If you contributed to creating a stressful situation, what could you have done differently to avoid it?
- What was your reaction like?
- How did you reduce or mitigate the stress?
- If you could react to that situation again, what would you have done differently?
- In what ways did stress help or hurt your work?
Practice Good Time Management
When it comes to managing your tasks, its important to have good time management. Planning out your tasks will help you understand how to cope with stress at work better by allowing you to get a clear idea of all your standing commitments. This way, you wont overcommit to tasks or overwhelm yourself.
In addition, this allows you to strike a balance between work and your personal life, giving you the breathing space that you need. Creating boundaries between work and your own life is very important in ensuring that workplace stress doesnt affect your life.
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Offer Mental And Physical Health Benefits
If your employees are feeling profound effects of stress, its likely that their mental and physical health will suffer as well. Providing a safety net to address those problems will help the overall health of your employees and of your organization.
According to a study conducted by Justworks, 41% of small- to medium-sized employers provide their employees access to benefits. Although offering access to a benefits package can feel expensive at first, it has plenty of returns.
Employees with access to health insurance will perform better and be more loyal to the company, as well. According a study by Aflac, 26% of small business employees would move to a larger company for better benefits offerings.
Form Positive Relationships As Much As You Can
Some people start a job with a chip on their shoulder, and seem to set out to make everyone there miserable. Whether youâre starting a new job, or make it a goal for new employees who start where you work, build a better foundation than that.
Not everyone is outgoing or makes friendships easily. And no one is asking you to make your co-workers your best friends. But you can set out to be positive towards others, avoiding negativity as much as is in your control.
- Be a good listener.
- Be sincere but generous in complimenting someone elseâs work.
- Help someone who needs it.
- Be willing to teach or mentor someone with less experience than you.
- Avoid gossiping or speaking negatively about anyone else on the job.
- If conflict or problems have to be addressed, use positive language and avoid accusations or painting someone in a negative light.
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Managing Common Stressful Situations At Work
If you feel stressed by a certain problem at work, you might not be alone in this.
Anyone can experience some of these common stressful situations in the workplace. The important thing is understanding how to manage them.
Problems with your workload
- Ask your manager for help. Discuss your workload with your manager. Try setting realistic targets and talk about how you can solve the issues you’re having.
- Try to balance your time. You might be doing too much at once. If you don’t give each task your full attention, it can take longer. Try to claim your time back if you ever need to work extra hours to get something done.
- Reward yourself for achievements. Rather than only focusing on work that needs to be done next, reward yourself for tasks youâve completed. Your reward could be taking a break to read, do a puzzle, chat with co-workers or spend time outside.
- Be realistic. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You might find that you’re being more critical of your own work than you need to be. Work within your limitations and try to be kind to yourself.
“I don’t take on too much at one time, little steps are the way. Breathing strategies, having a mindset and thinking, ‘I can do this!'”
Difficult work-life balance
Lack of support in your workplace
“My work has become a strong support system. My work colleagues have become like family and there is a mutual respect in how we treat one another.”
How To Reduce Stress At Work For Employers
Having understood the causes and consecuences, How can employers reduce stress at workplace? You can take some actions, starting with assuming positive leadership and staying calm in stressful situations.
It is important that you consult your employees about what factors can be stressful at work, and that you talk to them to reduce the uncertainty of their futures. Listening to them and having face-to-face meetings will make them feel heard and valued. Give them the opportunity to participate in the decisions that affect their work, make them feel involved.
You must deal with conflict by respecting the dignity of each employee and establishing zero tolerance for harassment and violence. Avoid unrealistic deadlines and make sure the tasks are right for each employee based on their abilities and resources. Make your expectations clear, define roles, responsibilities, and goals for each other. Above all, make sure that managements actions are aligned with the values that you proclaim.
Offering awards and incentives, recognizing achievements and planning potentially stressful work periods are also actions that help reduce stress, as well as promote social interaction between employees.
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Stay Off Of Social Media As Much As Possible During Work
Constant connection and the interruption of technology can increase your stress levels.
Social media, for example, can make you aware of stressful events happening to other people or in other places. They might not have any bearing on your life, but you allow yourself to feel stressed about them anyway. Itâs called the cost of caring.
As an interruption, social media and text messages can also add to stress. University of California Irvine found that employees who received a lot of emails were more stressed. They stayed in a âhigh alertâ mode all the time. Being constantly connected and going back and forth in response on social media or via text messages does the same thing. Additionally, it distracts you and slows you down and you end up feeling stress as you rush to catch up with the work you didnât do because you were busy on your phone.
Stay off social media and mobile devices as much as possible when on the job. The last thing you need is drama via social media or text messaging while youâre trying to get your work done.
Start The Day Out Right
This means to plan ahead, eat a healthy breakfast and leave in enough time to get to work comfortably on time. For some people, this can be quite a challenge. Whether they miscalculate how long it takes them to get ready to leave, or they just dont get up early enough, they have fallen into a habit of rushing out of the house, expecting to get every green light and find the closest parking space near the door.
And when of course, that doesnt happen because nobody on the road knows or cares that you left late, traffic lights arent timed for your poor judgment, and youre late, so you get to park in the back, youre going to start your workday already stressed before you even hang your jacket up. So how do you think youll react when your boss tosses you a curveball or the computer system crashes?
So if you are not in the habit, try starting your day with a little planning, good nutrition, and an optimistic attitude. And see if it doesnt help the workplace stress roll off your back more easily.
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Common Sources Of Work Stress
Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:
- Low salaries
- Few opportunities for growth or advancement
- Work that isnt engaging or challenging
- Lack of social support
- Not having enough control over job-related decisions
- Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations
Take Time To Relax And Practice Self
Okay, you already know this blog is titled, How to cope with stress at work. But youll notice that a couple of these strategies actually happen outside of your workplace.
And thats because sometimes the training for the ability to cope at work comes from having prepared yourself before you even get to your job.
This includes the quality sleep and good nutrition I mentioned above. It also entails being physically fit. That doesnt mean you have to be able to run a marathon. It just means to factor in some physical activity into your daily routine.
During work, be vigilant about taking care of yourself mentally. Know when youre nearing your breaking point. Cushion your workday with breaks to allow yourself to regroup. Dont over-extend yourself with unrealistic deadlines.
And lastly, at the end of the day, unplug and have boundaries in place to protect your personal and private time.
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Youre Feeling Anxious Or Depressed
Stress in the workplace can affect your mental health. The constant need to meet deadlines and increasing demands may lead you to feel more anxious when youre already struggling to stay afloat.
External factors at the workplace may lead you to begin second-guessing your capabilities, or even make you feel like youre incapable of achieving what you set out to do.
You might be feeling anxious or depressed at work if youve experienced these:
- Turning down opportunities because of phobias
- Career has plateaued because youre unwilling to take risks
- Feeling isolated
- Overreacting to situations on the job
- Focusing too much on negative aspects of your job
- Inability to concentrate and finish tasks by the deadline
- Taking an unusual amount of time off work
Simple Ways To Deal With Stress At Work
Research has indicated that the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is highand its only getting higher. According to a survey of more than 2,000 full-time U.S. employees, ages 18-79, more than half of employees find themselves stressed during at least 60 percent of the workweek.
Work stress has significant health consequences that range from relatively benign to potentially serious .
While stress at work is common, finding a low-stress job is hard . A more realistic approach is to adopt effective coping strategies to reduce stress at your current job. Here are some stress management techniques you can try if you are finding it hard to cope with work stress
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Have A Place To Release Your Stress
And venting around the office water cooler, is not it. However, having someone you trust that you can turn to for a good old-fashioned venting session can sometimes help you talk through your feelings.
I would caution, though, that while verbal venting can be handy in a quick pinch, its not healthy to habitually rely on it because there are better ways to handle stress for the longer term.
Some of the other ways you can release your frustrations are:
- Take some deep breaths and visualize the frustration leaving as you exhale.
- Repeat a calming phrase such as, Everythings going to be okay, or Take it easy. You can either say it out loud, under your breath or even in your head.
- Move your body. Stretch and flex your leg muscles under your desk. Take a short walk to the break room, bathroom, or through the halls and shake the stress out.
When you feel that familiar feeling of stress building up, mindfully moving your body can release the tension in your muscles.
What Can I Do About It
It can be easy to think that stress is caused by a failing on your part, or that its just a natural part of the job. For example, it youve got too much to do, its tempting to think this is because youre too slow or arent working hard enough. This can encourage us to work unrealistically long hours, which can worsen stress by making work the centre of our lives and reducing then time we have to unwind.
Feelings of stress are your bodys way of telling you something needs to change. Things arent going to get better by ignoring your body. If you dont talk to your boss, they wont know youre feeling overworked, which means they cant help you. There will almost certainly be a simple solution such as reassuring you that youre working at an acceptable pace, offering you training, or sharing work out more evenly.
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Make Time For Workplace Wellness
Your workplace should support your sustained wellbeing throughout the day. Say it again so you dont forget. Hard work needs balance to be sustainable. Now, not everyone is lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, but there are plenty of small things you can do to make your work from home experience more enjoyable and healthier. Some excellent items to facilitate this are:
- Greenery in your scenery.
- In addition to improving the air quality, adding indoor plants to your desktop can have a soothing effect and make your space feel calmer.
How Can I Help Myself
There are things that you can do to help reduce your symptoms of stress. This is also known as self-care. There isnt a set process for where you should start, or what you should do, everyone is different. You may need to try different things until you find what works for you.
If you dont know what is causing your stress, it might help to keep a stress diary for a few weeks. It may help you to identify things that you may be able to change.
You could write down when you feel stressed. You should include what happens just before or after you feel stressed.
It could also help you to identify things which can make you unwell. These things are known as triggers. Identifying your triggers can help you to have more control over your stress levels.
There is a template for a stress diary at the end of the factsheet, which you can download by clicking the link at the top of this page.
Get practical advice
You may be able to take steps to change the cause of your stress. There are lots of places you can get practical advice on different issues. An advice service may be a good place to start. They may be able to support you to solve an issue. For example, you may want advice on:
- money or
You can find details of different organisations that give practical advice in the Useful contacts section at the bottom of this page.
Manage your money
Money can cause many different issues such as poverty, debt and relationship problems.
Plan your time
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