5 Strategies for Reducing Stress at Work
Even if you love your job, work can be a significant source of stress in your life. This stress can cause symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, trouble focusing, fatigue, and sleep problems. In some cases, this stress leads to changes in behavior, such as starting to use tobacco, withdrawing from social activities, and changes in eating.
While it may feel like the only way out of work stress is to change jobs, you may have other options. Depending on your situation and needs, you may be able to use strategies such as learning new ways to cope or creating boundaries to manage the hassles in your workplace.
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1. Make a List of Stressors
Before you can make progress toward reducing your work stress, you must identify what exactly is causing you to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. According to the American Institute of Stress, 46 percent of workplace stress comes from the sheer amount of work people must do.
Twenty-eight percent of anxiety in the workplace stems from issues with co-workers, 20 percent comes from the need to balance work with home life, and six percent of workplace stress relates to job security. You may feel pressure from one or more of these categories.
However, aim to be specific when identifying your stressors. For example, instead of saying that you just don’t like your co-workers, find specific behaviors that bother you.
2. Learn Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Some pressure at work is unavoidable. Deadlines, meetings, and unanswered emails are par for the course for many professionals. However, some people struggle with the stressors because they have not developed healthy coping mechanisms for them.
Therapists and counselors can work with clients to develop some techniques that work for them.
Some common coping mechanisms include:
- Establishing health-promoting routines
- Avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms, like alcohol
- Getting good sleep
- Treating underlying issues, like anxiety disorders
- Mindfulness activities, including meditation
3. Create Fair and Firm Work Boundaries
Do you find yourself answering emails in the middle of dinner? Are you working all hours of the night and thinking about work while you’re doing other things? The problem may be that you do not have firm boundaries with your colleagues or yourself.
Try creating realistic boundaries that are fair to yourself, your family, and your colleagues. For example, you may decide that you do not answer work emails on weekends. The important thing is to stick with the boundaries that you set, except in the case of real emergencies. Tempted though you may feel, avoid answering “just one” email on Friday night, as it may send the signal that your boundaries are not firm.
4. Call for Help When Necessary
In some situations, you cannot handle the work stressor alone. For example, if a colleague is inappropriate with you, you should not have to handle the problem alone. In these situations, be sure to bring in the appropriate authorities.
You may need to contact the human resources department or a manager. While it may seem more stressful in the short term, these authorities can handle the situation for you and eventually remove the problem entirely.
5. Set Aside Time to Relax
All work and no play may make you an anxious person. It’s essential to set aside time to do something you enjoy. It can be something as grand as a vacation or as simple as taking the time to read a good book. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that you do purely for enjoyment.
If you need help coping with stress at work or from anything else, contact LifeStance Health therapy clinic near you today. Our therapists can teach you healthy ways to deal with problems in your life and test for any underlying mental health conditions.