How To Be Unflappable At Work
Big workloads aren’t the only stressor in the workplace. Learn how Hotjar creates an unflappable work environment that addresses the most common stresses.
Being able to maintain a calm state of mind amid chaos and stress is something everyone can benefit from, and some folks have learned how to do that. Stressors can hit at any time and from any directionespecially at work.
Although there are external forces outside your control, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. There are steps you can take to improve your wellbeing, and to help yourself and your teams.
If you want to become unflappable, then continue reading to learn some of the common causes of workplace stress and how to navigate difficult times.
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About the Author: Emily Peet-Lukes
Emily is a copywriter based in Los Angeles, California. She is responsible for crafting compelling narratives, upholding brand integrity, and providing trusted, expert communications. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, cooking, and sunset happy hours. Connect with her on LinkedIn:
Keep Perfectionism In Check
Being a high achiever might make you feel good about yourself and help you excel at work, but being a perfectionist can create problems for you .
You might not be able to do everything perfectly, every timeespecially in a busy, fast-paced job. A good strategy to avoid the perfectionism trap is always striving to just do your best and making time to congratulate yourself on your efforts. You may find that your results are better and youll be much less stressed at work.
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How To Manage Stress According To Research
The American Psychological Association offers several research-based techniques for managing stress, at work and beyond:
Stress doesnt always need to be bad. By encountering stress and learning how to cope, we can grow and develop greater resilience to make future situations less difficult. Remember, âresilience is about managing emotions, not suppressing themâ .
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.
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Five Ways To Reduce Stress
- Take time away. If the stress at work increases, try to take a short break and get away from the stressful situation. If possible, take a walk outside the workplace or spend a few minutes meditating in the break room. Physical exercise or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly relieve stress.
- Talk it over with someone. In some situations, it can help relieve stress by simply sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Talking about a problem with someone who is both supportive and empathetic can be a great way to let off steam and relieve stress.
- Connect with others in the workplace. Developing friendships with some of your colleagues can help you protect yourself from the negative effects of stress. Remember to listen to them and offer support when they are also in need.
- Look for humor in this situation. If used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress at work. If you or those around you start to take things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or a funny story.
The Psychology Of Workplace Stress
âStress is one of the major reasons employees cite for their absence from work, and stress-related absence is increasing.â
Neenan, 2018, p. 92
Unfortunately, chronic stress is all too common in the workplace. According to the American Psychological Associationâs annual Stress in America survey, work is consistently cited as one of the top sources of stress in peopleâs lives.
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Build Flexibility Into The Work Schedule
The work culture in America has evolved into a 9-5, five-day week standard. A 9-5 schedule doesnt work for everybody. Morning people start to drag in the afternoon, and night owls crawl through morning routines while their brains are minimally functional.
Offer your employees a flex-time option to manage their work schedules. Flexible hours have very little if any financial impact on a company. If theyre allowed to work when theyre at their peak levels of motivation and creativity, employees will flourish. Theyre more satisfied and more productive, positively impacting any organizations bottom line.
Workplace stress isnt going anywhere, but there are many ways you can support your employees and managers to reduce and manage stress at work. Reducing the impact of stress to help prevent burnout at work is the best step any organization can take to improve company culture and drive success for their teams.
The Thriver marketplace is packed with resources for creating a low-stress workplace and a culture of cooperation and support.
Make Time For Regular Exercise
Aerobic exerciseactivity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweatis a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Rhythmic movementsuch as walking, running, dancing, drumming, etc.is especially soothing for the nervous system. For maximum stress relief, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity on most days. If its easier to fit into your schedule, break up the activity into two or three shorter segments.
And when stress is mounting at work, try to take a quick break and move away from the stressful situation. Take a stroll outside the workplace if possible. Physical movement can help you regain your balance.
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How To Prevent Stress At Work: 3 Strategies
Practical and effective primary interventions can reduce or remove the need for secondary and tertiary interventions focused on recovery from stress .
While many of the following strategies appear simple, they require focus and commitment. Others foster a new mindset and change how we relate to work and occupational stress.
Setting Boundaries Between Work And Home
Many people take work to their homes, and this can blur the boundaries between home and workplace. So even if you love your job, do not take your work home.
Some people choose to organize their work for the next day when they get home. But doing can lead to remind you of all other things you have not done at work and start to worry.
It means you are not getting a break from work, and that can lead to burnout or more stress. To avoid taking work home, always make sure you update your to-do list right before you go home. It should be the last task you do before leaving the workplace.
Also, sort out all things that may be floating around in your mind before leaving the workplace to ensure they do not pull at the edges of your mind while at home.
Also, try not to take work-related telephone calls and avoid checking your work emails when you are at home. Set the boundaries between work and home.
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Learn How To Manage Conflict
As a manager, conflict is common. You might butt heads with other managers or employees. Its also common for you to get called in when employees you supervise have disputes that they cant resolve. Learning and using conflict resolution skills can ease the tension and lower stress. Teach your employees how to listen to one another and come up with solutions to solve disputes themselves.
Your Mental Health Matters
When Jason began his remote work journey, he found himself often in a state of trial and error when it came to managing stress and his new work from home environment. Figuring out the best ways for him to navigate his physical workspace while sharing a one-bedroom apartment with his wife, learning that keeping his work computer on at all times means hes working all the time. He was caught up in the cycle of thought that overworking was a sign to his team that he was dedicated, he wasnt able to say no, and was always available even when it cut into his valuable personal time. He was working himself into a spiral of stress that was affecting everything around him.
It wasnt until I suffered a bout of stress-induced Bells Palsy which, by the way, looked an awful lot like a stroke and resulted in thousands of dollars in the emergency room and ambulance bills that I realized that I needed to pay myself first with regards to my time, Jason shares.
In Jasons case, his mental health stressors literally translated into a physical health crisis. According to a study by Gallup, burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job.
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Connect With Family And Friends
While its common to withdraw after a traumatic experience, your relationships with others can be a source of strength. Some studies even show that social support can reduce the amount of cortisol the body produces when youre feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
While you shouldnt hesitate to open up to your loved ones about traumatic stress if you feel comfortable doing so, any type of social interaction can be beneficial if you dont discuss your trauma. In fact, spending time with people you care about might help you begin to feel more like yourself again.
Most Common Stressor I See At Work
Q: What do you think is the most common stressor at work?
A: If you’re like many, you’ll think of large volumes of work and endless to-do lists. But Ive found not only from my own experience, but also talking to colleagues that workplace stress often has little to do with workload.
Other peoples behaviors might have a larger role in affecting how you feel at work. For example:
Being disrespectful or undervaluing peoples contributions
Being unclear about needs and expectations
No one should have to deal with unhealthy behaviors in the workplace. This is especially important for leaders, as ultimately, were responsible for creating a positive and supportive culture and ensuring team members have a safe working space.
I found that when the workload is too large, its easier to manage if you have a supporting team and leader: asking to negotiate timelines, prioritize the work, and delegating are easier said than done when facing unhealthy behavior.
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Identify And Learn To Manage Your Triggers
Long-term problems, such as financial or work-related situations, may take some time to figure out is it a due date, a person, or the situation? This may take some extra support, through therapy or with friends.
When you do figure out your trigger, you should try to limit your exposure if you can. If you cant limit it like if its due to a stressful work environment that you cant currently change using other coping techniques may help.
Taking Steps To Manage Stress
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Listen To Music On The Drive Home
Listening to music offers many benefits and can be an effective way to relieve stress before, during, and after work. Playing an uplifting song while you make breakfast can help you start the day off feeling better prepared to interact with the people in your life. Likewise, combating the stress of a long day with your favorite music on the drive home can help you wind down and feel less stressed when you get there.
Try This: Affect Labeling
Focus on labeling your emotions clearly and be as specific as you can be. You might start by saying something general such as I feel bad, but work on going further to really identify the source of the distress and how you feel about it.
After some thought, you might realize that you feel bad because you are worried, angry, or disappointed. Acknowledge and accept your emotions without judging them.
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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.
Make Wellness A Part Of The Workplace
Since stress can create physical illness, doing what you can to keep your employees healthy can combat stress. There are several ways employers can encourage wellness:
- Gym memberships. You can give gym memberships to employees.
- Wearable technology. Give devices like the FitBit or JawBone Up, which measure steps, heart rate, and activity. Have competitions in which employees compete to be the most active to win prizes.
- Provide healthy snacks. Make healthy snacks available in the breakroom instead of junk food and sugary soda.
- Free checkups. Partner with a local clinic to offer free tests for employees, such as blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure.
- Encourage breaks. Make sure your employees take their breaks and take the time off coming to them.
Healthy and rested employees are less stressed and do better work. Itâs that simple.
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Practise Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Also called a body scan, this technique helps you to focus on yourself and release tension youre holding in your body.
Breathe in and tense the muscles in your face, squeezing your eyes shut. Clench your jaw and keep your face tensed for five seconds. Gradually relax your muscles over the time it takes to count to ten, then take a deep breath. You can say relax as you relax. Next, move on to your neck and shoulders, and gradually move down your body. Be careful with any injuries or pain that you have. Get more info on how to practise progressive muscle relaxation here.
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Get Stress Under Control In Your Workplace And Reap The Benefits Of A Healthier More Productive Workforce
The importance of addressing total well-being, including stress management and how to deal with stress in the workplace, cannot be overstated.
Through the Cleveland Clinic Stress Free Now program your employees will acquire the skills and tools needed to understand how to deal with stress in the workplace, reduce their own stress levels and defuse future onsets of stress.
In addition to helping your employees reduce and control their feelings of stress, Stress Free Now will help your employees increase their levels of mindfulness, psychological well-being, and quality of life.
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Communicate And Get Support
Talk to your manager
A survey Mind conducted found that three in five people would feel more motivated at work if their employer tried to support their staff’s mental wellbeing. So if you feel concerned about speaking with a manager be aware that they’re likely to want to help you.
Other benefits employers receive from supporting staff include:
- Increasing staff performance
- Increasing the likelihood of more people applying to work there
- Legal obligations
You and your manager can then come up with a plan together to tackle the stress, for example:
- You may be allowed to work more flexibly
- They may have been unaware of how much work you have. Now your manager knows you’re overextended you can agree on a more realistic workload
- You can go through a clear job description of your role and highlight which of your current tasks are not part of this job description
- Regular feedback and reviews can be arranged
- If there are interpersonal issues you may be allowed to transfer to another department
Take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program
Many employers offer an EAP to help employees with issues that may be affecting their performance and physical and mental health – this includes personal issues as well as work-related problems. Usually there will be access to a counselling or an advice service.
Speak to your GP
If you think you would benefit from professional support, speak to your GP and they can go through options with you.