How to Combat Stress at Work

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We’ve had a particularly stressful week around here. Stress at work is the fact of life that we all hate dealing with. As adults, though, we always have to cope with it. We may love our jobs (goodness knows I do), but the looming deadline or the unforeseen difficulty in our work is enough to send us over the edge. Our jobs are such a large portion of our lives that they are a huge source of self esteem. Managing the stress that our jobs bring us is key to making sure that we live a fulfilled life. Following are tips to combat those common stressors that we see at work.

Keep a Journal

The American Psychological Association recommends tracking your stressors when you feel them at work. By identifying the most common stressors that you encounter, you have the ability to combat them more effectively because you are more likely to recognize the warning signs. Not only should you track the stressors, but you should also track your responses and thoughts that are associated with them. Once you have this full picture, you can make a change to how you deal with the stressor. Doing this can prevent a chain reaction that can lead to even more stress at work or even at home.

There are tons of stress management tips and tricks out there, but even the best strategies won’t work unless you’re tuned to what triggers your major stress responses. Once you’ve figured that out, the next steps are a breeze.

Get some sleep

Many of us have issues with sleep habits. We have a constant barrage of information coming at us from all angles during the day, and it is so important to separate that from our sleep habits. Sleep hygiene is extremely important in today’s fast-paced world. Make sure to separate your work life from your home life. If you’re like me and go to school too, that’s even more important. Keep the laptop and the schoolbooks out of the bedroom. You need to create a sanctuary. Consider reading leisure literature (books that carry no stress). Take up that novel you’ve been wanting to read. Most importantly, NO SCREENS! That seems like a big ask, but it is the most important part of sleep hygiene. For more pointers, visit Harvard’s guide to healthier sleep.

Keep the stress AT WORK

The stress that you experience at work needs to be left at the desk. In times of remote work access and cell phones, this is extremely difficult. But stress that is experienced at work needs to be left in those doors. Remote work access makes that more complicated. I created an office for myself in the corner of the house that I usually don’t spend any time in. That office is where my homework and office work stays. This creates a barrier for you in home as well. Once that barrier is crossed, you need to leave the work there. Take some time off. Take some time out for some fun.

Make sure to pay attention to your health

Poor physical health can lead to poor psychological health. Not to say that there is a causation relationship, but there certainly are correlational factors. These factors lead most psychologists to believe that there is an inevitable relationship between physical and mental health. For these reasons, many professionals recommend increased physical activity to help with those mid-day blues. Take some time out to take a walk every once in a while. Do a little rooftop yoga in that rooftop garden if you have the option. Get some time away from the desk and out of the chair so that your legs can stretch for a while. If you’re the boss, consider standing desks for your associates. These can lead to much better circulation and improved moods at the office.

Lend an ear

Support between coworkers is the one goal that we can all strive for. Community is something that can help you get something off your chest while talking to someone who can relate. Take some time in groups to have meetings! Your meetings don’t have to be about anything. Just have a meeting to talk. Run down to the cafeteria for some coffee to chat. Don’t have a cafeteria? Do a Starbucks run. The walk is also a great way to get some exercise. If you don’t even have that option, just take 5 minutes away from the desks and have a huddle. Work can be about community as well as work. If you have the option, take some time to teambuild. Your coworkers are your own little work family. My work family and I have the occasional lunch just to chat and reconnect. Build that sense of community and make sure that you all feel like you have each other’s backs. This may not inherently reduce stressors, but it will help the team to feel supported and connected. This will make work feel more like home for your coworkers.

Keep yourself organized

Work is stressful enough without having to look after a thousand things that aren’t in the appropriate place. Start with an immediate task list. Once you have your task list, prioritize that list. Have a conversation with your supervisor if necessary. They will be happy to help you figure out which items are highest on your list. However, in most cases, it will be fairly simple to sort out your list. Once you have your list of larger tasks, create sub-categories of tasks needed to complete the larger item. With a more organized list, you will have a to-do list that will help you make your way through your days. Many projects, of course, will be long-term projects. But with the task list you have organized for yourself, you have created a checklist of all the things you needed to do to complete that larger project. Because you’ve created more manageable tasks, you have now broken up your looming deadline into smaller, more manageable deadlines.

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