Our jobs can be a source of rhythm that buoys us into a sense of contentment and accomplishment. Our professions can shape our identities and make our lives feel more meaningful and enriching. However, we cannot deny that work can also be a source of immense and unrelenting stress. Think of the days when you respond to one email, and before you can wipe your forehead with the relief you already receive four more to respond to; the phone rings off the hook and you keep flitting between meetings like a stressed-out hummingbird; your boss comes over to hand you – with a smile – a difficult assignment with a tight deadline; your coworker falls sick and you have to pull the weight for the both of you. It can be hard to keep sane when your job keeps hurtling curveballs at you all the time.
Stress cannot be evaded entirely, but we can still minimize its effects and prevent it from seeping into other parts of our lives. All we need to do is understand what might be causing us stress, and then work on how it can be eliminated. Lucky for us, there are a plethora of strategies that can help us achieve just that!
Strategies for Eliminating Workplace Stress
If you want to keep up with the demands of your work, maintain your focus, and not just survive but thrive, you can employ the following tips:
Take Frequent Breaks
If you want to reduce stress at work, the secret is to take regular breaks. Think of them like little vacations for your brain. Breaks give your mind a chance to escape the grind, recharge, and come back ready to tackle your tasks with renewed vigor. Plus, they give you the opportunity to do something fun, like stare out the window or make paper airplanes. So, don’t be afraid to take a break when you need it – your sanity and productivity will thank you.
Plan Out Your Day in Advance
It really pays to take a few minutes in the morning to plan out your day and formulate some clear and concrete expectations about what you want to achieve in the day. Clear expectations are like a roadmap for your workday – they help you to know where you’re going and how to get there. When you know exactly what’s expected of you, you can approach your tasks with confidence and clarity, and avoid the stress of uncertainty and ambiguity. Plus, clear expectations help you to prioritize your tasks and manage your time, so you can avoid last-minute rushes and deadline pressures. In short, clear expectations are like a GPS for your workday – they help you to navigate the twists and turns with ease and avoid stress-inducing detours.
Avoid Conflicts at Work
Disagreements at work are unavoidable; in fact, some creative differences can actually contribute to better results for the entire team. But disagreements don’t have to morph into conflicts. Conflict in the workplace can be a common source of stress for many people. When conflicts are resolved positively, it can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Additionally, constructively resolving conflicts can help to improve relationships with your coworkers and foster a more collaborative and supportive work environment. This can all contribute to reduced stress and improved mental health.
Avoid Multitasking – Learn Chunking Tasks
As tempting as it may be, multitasking is stressful for a myriad of reasons. For starters, it requires you to hop between tasks, which can be exhausting and overwhelming. This can lead to mistakes and a lack of productivity, which is stressful in its own right. Plus, multitasking makes it tough to truly concentrate on any one task, which can be frustrating and lead to feelings of dissatisfaction. And to top it all off, multitasking often involves working under a tight deadline, which can really ramp up stress levels. The antidote is a technique called “chunking”. It involves grouping similar or related tasks together and completing them in sequence. This allows you to focus on one task at a time, which can help you to work more efficiently and effectively. This can help to reduce stress by allowing you to approach your work with a clear plan and focus, rather than drowning in multiple simultaneous tasks.
Set Healthy Boundaries
It is important to set clear boundaries at work. You can achieve this by doing the following:
- Identify your priorities: Take some time to reflect on what is most important to you in your work, and make a list of your priorities. This can help you to prioritize your tasks and set boundaries around your time and energy.
- Communicate your boundaries: Once you have identified your priorities, communicate them to your coworkers and manager. Let them know what you are and are not willing to do, and make sure to communicate your boundaries clearly and assertively.
- Set limits on your availability: Consider setting limits on your availability, such as not checking work emails outside of work hours or not accepting last-minute requests for meetings. This can help to protect your time and energy, and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
Deep-breathing exercises are a pretty magical way to de-stress at work. How do they work their magic? Well, it all has to do with your body’s relaxation response. When you’re stressed out, your body goes into fight or flight mode, releasing all sorts of stress hormones that make you feel anxious. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens, and your muscles tense. But when you do deep-breathing exercises, it tells your brain that everything is under control and there is no need to worry. This makes your body relax and release all the tension, which in turn makes you feel calm and composed.
Let Go of Perfection
Perfectionist tendencies often end up sabotaging good work. If you find yourself gripped by anxiety as you constantly strive for that elusive perfection, here are a few things you can do to manage the situation:
- Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and others. You can’t be perfect at everything, and that’s okay! Try to focus on doing your best and setting goals that are achievable and reasonable.
- Practice self-compassion. Perfectionists often have very harsh inner critics, which can make them feel like they’re never good enough. But remember, you’re only human. So be kind and understanding with yourself, and recognize that it’s okay to make mistakes.
- Take breaks and prioritize self-care. Perfectionists often push themselves too hard, which can lead to burnout and increased stress. Make sure to take regular breaks, get enough sleep, and engage in activities that help you relax and recharge.
- Seek support from others. Perfectionism can be a tough habit to break, and difficult to overcome on your own. Ask your friends for help when you feel the pressure mounting. And consider talking to a therapist who can help you work through your perfectionist tendencies and develop healthier ways of approaching work.
Maintain a De-stress Journal
Keeping a journal for a week or two can help you identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Try to record as much information as possible, including your thoughts, feelings, and information about the environment. For example, you could write down the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting, and how you reacted to the stressor. It may seem time-consuming, but the effort is worth it. Journaling can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them, and that can help you find ways to better manage your stress. For example, you might notice that when you wake up to multiple emails, you feel panicked. Or you feel you are not proficient with spreadsheets, and it takes up too much of your time. Once you’ve identified these patterns, you can start to develop strategies for dealing with them such as taking a short course, or not checking email first thing in the morning.
Seeking Professional Help
Prolonged stress is detrimental to health – both physical and mental. If you feel that you are unable to cope with the stress of your work and it is sabotaging your performance, causing immense and disproportionate anxiety, talking to a mental health professional can be extremely beneficial. A therapist can help you investigate your source of stress, understand why it distresses you, and help develop healthy coping mechanisms to diminish its negative effects. Therapy can also be a safe space for you to express and process your emotions without any judgment. Additionally, a mental health professional can assess if you could benefit from psychiatric medications and refer you to respective specialists.
We Can Help!
MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home. If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.