Stress is the feeling we get when we’re under pressure. Plenty of people get that feeling at work. It’s a fact of modern working life and our increasingly connected world that we’re often multi-tasking and getting interrupted or distracted. We’re more contactable 24/7 than ever before because of email, mobile phones and potentially even social media.
There is also usually a degree of pressure to perform at work, as well as a potential risk in large organisations that you may become a victim of future downsizing or restructuring. All these factors can contribute to workplace stress. That stress can leave you lying awake at night worrying, which if left unchecked can contribute to more serious ongoing problems like anxiety and depression.
Eliminating or lowering your workplace stress levels will help you to remain calm so you can stay focused and productive at work. It will improve both your physical and mental health even when you aren’t at work. You might be wondering what you can do to eliminate any work stress you have, or at least reduce it.
Here are some tips to lower or eliminate your workplace stress levels.
Be proactive rather than reactive
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to take control of situations. Be aware of the things you can control, as well as those you can’t. You are in control of how you act and respond to others. Control these “controlables”, to help avoid getting overwhelmed at work.
Don’t be impulsive or overreact.
You can help yourself stay calm in potentially stressful workplace situations by not being impulsive and making snap decisions when you are feeling frustrated or angry. Instead, try taking some deep breaths before you say or do anything major. It will help you relax to relax and avoid over-reacting and escalating stressful situations.
Or at the very least, reduce the number of potential distractions in your work environment. For example, if you need to focus and you have an office, close the door. Or if you work in an open plan office, use headphones to block outside noise. You can also have set times for responding to your email or you can turn your phone off during important meetings. The focus you achieve will help you get your work done more efficiently. It will also help reduce your workplace stress.
Prioritise your time with a schedule
Prioritise your time and plan accordingly. If you have a lot of tasks to get through, do the most important ones first. That will help ensure you don’t run out of time for them. Know what is important and why. Let your work colleagues know when you are available by scheduling time in your calendar around the most important things you need to do. Again, this will help you be more productive and decrease your stress at work.
Eliminate unnecessary tasks
There are probably things you do at work that are a waste of time. If a task doesn’t align with your workplace goals, it will inevitably eat into the time you have available for your important tasks. And that will create stress for you, not eliminate or reduce it.
Take short breaks
Make sure you schedule some short breaks in your day. Remember, you aren’t a machine. And it’s especially important to take a short break when you feel yourself starting to get stressed at work. Even if it’s just a few deep breaths when you are feeling tense. You can also take a coffee break or go for a walk during your lunch break to get away from work for a little while to clear your head and reduce your stress levels.
There is an old saying that “we are what we eat”. If you don’t eat healthy food or you skip important meals like breakfast, your energy levels will drop and your concentration and work performance can suffer. And that can lead to stress. And if you are stressed, eating comfort food can make you feel more lethargic and less able to handle any work pressures. Ensure you eat healthy food to eliminate or reduce your workplace stress.
Get enough sleep
Sleep helps to rejuvenate you both physically and mentally. It also reduces your stress levels. If you regularly worry about work and it stops you getting to sleep, or you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work, your stress levels will increase. There are many ways you can improve your sleep, like ensuring you have a regular bedtime and avoiding stimulants like caffeine before you go to bed.
Know and use your strengths
A good way to reduce stress is by having some success. Align your work goals with those of your organisation. Know your strengths and use them as much as you can as you go about your daily work tasks. You’ll get your work done more effectively and you’ll feel better about yourself as you make progress. This will help to reduce your workplace stress.
Sometimes you can create stressful workplace situations by procrastinating unnecessarily. You make a tight deadline even tighter by delaying tasks that are difficult or unpleasant in favour of tasks that are easier and more enjoyable, but less important. This will only increase your stress levels later when the deadline inevitably looms large and you realise you should have been concentrating on it earlier.
Don’t bite off more work than you can chew
You might want to impress your boss or your colleagues to get their respect or a promotion, but what’s the point if you’re damaging your physical and mental health in the process via workplace stress? Overworking yourself isn’t sustainable. If you are overworked, talk to your boss about it and try and come up with a solution. You’ll reduce your stress at the same time.
Change your perspective
Sometimes we worry unnecessarily and place too much pressure on ourselves. Stress can be of our own making. This can often be the case if you only look at workplace issues from your own perspective. If you try considering the viewpoints of others, you might find that you can work through potentially stressful situations without raising your blood pressure. Try not to take any work problems or disagreements with colleagues or customers personally, and don’t worry unnecessarily about others’ perceptions of you. It’s something you can’t control.
Thinking positively reduces your stress levels. Thinking negatively does the opposite. So you can reduce your workplace stress by taking control of your thoughts. Try and find the positive in a situation rather than a negative. It will help to motivate you and you might be able to influence others to do the same.
How do you get rid of workplace stress? Let us know in the comments below!