7 Easy ways to deal with stress at work
There are so many reasons for stress at work and we all handle them differently. But ignoring the causes and continuing with a stressful work situation can cause long-term health problems.
This is a growing problem that affects many people and knowing how to recognise work stress and deal with it is the key to a healthy and happy life.
Are you suffering from work-related stress? Do you want to learn how not to stress about work? If so, read this article and learn how to manage work stress to get back in control of your life.
What are the symptoms of stress at work?
You may be tired all the time, have headaches, stomach ache or feel generally unwell. Stress at work can show in many different ways. You may not even recognise that you’re suffering from work stress, but the signs could be there.
Perhaps you can´t sleep, feel depressed, anxious or like you can´t cope with another day of deadlines and difficult management or colleagues. You could be putting these work stress symptoms down to other reasons (problems with your home life, money worries, family issues) but they’re likely to be work-related if you have a pressurised job.
How to deal with stress at work?
Identify the cause of the problem
First, think about why you feel stressed at work. The reasons could be:
- unreasonable workload and deadline
- not understanding tasks you are given
- the work environment
- poor management
- lack of support
- pressure to perform and be promoted
- not being paid what you feel you are worth
- conflict with colleagues
Whatever the reason, knowing what is causing the problem gives you the ability to change things.
Nothing is impossible and you are the person that can set the changes in motion for a stress-free life at work. Once you have identified what is causing the problem it’s time to address it. Could you ask for more reasonable deadlines or better explanations to avoid overwork stress? Do you need a more comfortable chair, desk or better lighting? Do you need to discuss why conflict with colleagues is occurring? If your stress is due to wanting to climb the career ladder you should discuss your goals and ambition with your manager – if they’re aware of your aims, they can support you.
Consider your life outside work
If you’re taking work home, falling into bed exhausted each night, or working weekends you could be feeling overworked and stressed. There is only so much the human body can take before it says ‘no more’. This is when you’ll notice signs of
work-related stress symptoms and you’re not likely to be performing at your best.
The answer is to take time out for yourself. Do you have a hobby or interest that is nothing to do with your work? Exercise is great for the mind, even if it’s only walking the dog for 15 minutes a day. On the subject of animals, just sitting quietly with a cat or dog and stroking them can be a great stress reliever.
Another important way to combat stress at work is to eat a healthy diet. It’s too easy to help yourself to the biscuit tin or scoff that bar of chocolate for a quick sugar fix, but this doesn´t have a long-term benefit. Eating small and regular health snacks (fruit, vegetable sticks, nuts) throughout the day will keep stress at bay and improve your ability to focus. It’s also essential to drink plenty of water rather than relying on a quick coffee fix to keep you going.
Take regular breaks
You may want to continue with that report for another half an hour, finish an urgent task or make a few more phone calls, but this can lead to fatigue and overwork stress. We lose our ability to concentrate when we push ourselves to the limit, which leads to making mistakes and feeling stressed.
A 10-minute break will make you far more productive than if you sit at your desk all day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed walk away and take a moment to breathe and empty your head. Don´t eat lunch at your desk. This is an important rule. Take a short walk or sit on a bench and eat your sandwich – the change of scenery will lower your stress levels and prepare you for the afternoon ahead.
Try not to look at your mobile phone or a screen when you take a break. Many of us go from one screen to another and this is not good for our health. Look at what’s around you, the people, your surroundings, or just close your eyes and relax.
Talk to your employer and colleagues
Don’t bottle everything up if you need support dealing with stress at work. Ask to talk to your manager privately and beforehand make a list of the issues and how you think they could be resolved. It’s better to take a positive approach and work through the issues and find solutions together than just yelling ‘I can´t cope!’. Managers are there to manage people as well as projects and it’s their role to motivate you, so you do your best work.
If you don´t want to talk to someone senior (sometimes they can be the cause of the stress) make an appointment with Human Resources. This should be a confidential meeting and offer you the opportunity to talk openly about your stress. Some companies have counselling in the workplace support that can help with learning how to handle stress at work.
It can also be a great help to talk to colleagues, who may be in a similar situation to yours. Sharing problems and discussing them can make things seem a whole lot better. Don´t use this as an excuse to criticise other employees or management, but as a way to deal with the stress of your workplace as a team. This kind of support system can be invaluable, whether you’re just having a bad day or have long-term signs of stress at work.
Sometimes, learning how to manage stress at work can be as simple as spending an hour tidying your desk or office. Are you the kind of person who jumps from one task to the next without putting things away? Is your desk a mountain of paper? Can you never even find a pen or piece of paper? Take an hour out of your day to switch off your phone and notifications (preferably at the end of the day) and get to grips with your organisation skills. These tips will help:
- Use a diary or planner to schedule upcoming tasks so you don´t forget anything. Prioritise the urgent jobs.
- Make an action list for the day, month and week and tick things off as you complete them. This will give you a sense of achievement and help you feel in control.
- Allocate a block of time for specific tasks. This form of time management means you won´t procrastinate and will get things done.
- The constant interruption of messages coming in can be very distracting. Put your phone on silent if you’re working on a task that requires concentration.
- Tidy your desk or workplace and reduce the clutter. Unnecessary files, papers and objects around you can make you feel stressed. Working in a clear, tidy space means a focussed mind.
- Delegate if possible. Is there someone who could do a task for you to save you time and stress? You don´t have to do everything yourself and delegation is key if you have a team working for you.
- Have the right tools for the job. You may need a particular software package, a better screen or just a new set of highlighting pens. With the right tools, you’ll be more productive and in control of your working day.
- Set a routine. Every job has parts we don´t like to do. Whether it’s the filing, accounts, invoicing or deleting the spam in your inbox, all these take time. Do the repetitive tasks at the same time every day or week to keep on top of them and allocate a set amount of time for them. Finish the day with a plan for the next, a quick tidy up and go home and relax.
Learn to be flexible
Even if you’ve planned your day down to the last-minute unexpected things can come up during the day. Be prepared for this and build some free time into your daily action plan to address these things. Depending on the type of work you do, you’ll know how likely this is to happen. Having this extra space in your day will help you with managing stress at work and stay calm.
We hope these tips on how to reduce stress at work have helped you to see a clear path and a way forward. Remember: be realistic, be organised and address your stress at work.
Contact us to learn more on Lactium®, our natural ingredient for a peaceful life!
Written in collaboration with Sandrine Tran, Cécile Da Cunha and Julie Auger