People often as me for suggestions on how to deal with stress at work. Preparation is the key to being able to reduce stress and deal with stress at work. From the minute you get up and start getting ready for work, considering what to wear, what you will do for lunch, and you should also be thinking about the strategies for how to deal with stress at work.
So, how can I reduce stress at work? Don’t leave it to chance. Carry a survival kit with you to manage stress: a list of things you love to do, a list of things you are grateful for, a favorite picture of yourself, and some information about your hobbies. This will remind you why you work for a living.
Having a ready-reference of the things going well in your life not only helps to manage stress, but also helps you to manage your physical and mental wellbeing. This strategy is easy and it works. You don’t want burdensome strategies for dealing with stress at work, you want to incorporate the most effective stress management techniques that take little or no effort.
The next question I get asked is, “What are the signs of stress in the workplace?” If we step back and observe our work environment, we recognize quickly the signs of stress in the workplace: people rushing, short tempers, loud voices, unhappy faces, and people taking more sick days.
You can help people discover stressful events, and recover from them, by describe the warning signs they exhibit, that you have noticed, that are blind to them. Self-awareness is a concept of emotional intelligence, and unfortunately some people are not consciously aware of the triggers that make them stressed at work.
When people are stressed at work it can rub off on others and affect their mental health, too. Some people don’t know how to deal with stress at work. It would be wise to avoid negative people and ignore their negative comments so they don’t rub off on you!
Whenever possible, try to avoid negative people. If that’s not possible, put together a list of at least one thing you appreciate about every person you work with. Keep this list close and review it regularly.
People sense others’ stress and start to feel stressed as well, and wonder, “Can I have time off work for stress?” And the answer should be: “Yes!” If you have earned some time off; take it. Reduce stress in your life by removing yourself from the stressful situation, or at least take breaks throughout the day to implement these coping strategies when you feel overwhelmed by the levels of stress in the workplace.
Some people worry about taking time off work for stress, thinking that they are being weak, however, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Job stress is real and unfortunately many people never use up their PTO, sick days, or vacation days. Please don’t let that be you. Use it so you don’t lose it, if you know what I mean.
Be aware, if things aren’t going well at work, we tend to drag it home. If things aren’t going well at home, we tend to drag it to work. Our work day and personal life can be that connected when it comes to job stress and the effects of stress.
So, here are five easy ways to deal with stress:
One: Start out your work day by arriving a little earlier to work to minimize the stress of possibly being late. I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for being a few minutes early. If you have to commute to work through a big city expect there will probably be delays. You can nearly predict where there will be a couple of slow traffic spots along the way and a fender-bender or two. Arriving to work a little earlier will reduce stress, which is great, because you will probably have plenty of job stress to deal with throughout the work day anyway.
Two: Invest some effort in work and life balance. There are a number of areas of a person’s life that need routine maintenance: career, family, social, financial, physical, mental, educational, and spiritual. Routinely score each area of your life and recalibrate work and life balance. Think about what you can listen to on your way to and from work that enhances your personal and professional life. Listen to audio books if you find it hard to schedule time for reading books. Listen to podcasts related to your hobbies and interests. Consider listening to a light-hearted radio station or satellite radio program that is humorous. Really think about how you want to feel when you enter the door, whether at work or at home, either energized or relaxed.
Three: Once you are getting in stride at work, consider minimizing your caffeine intake. Many people believe they need a jolt of caffeine to get them started in the morning; that may be true for some. But at some point during the day you may need to wean yourself off the caffeine to manage your heart beat, blood sugar, or any of the other personal effects of stress.
Four: Take a few minutes to declutter your desk and get centered. Investing a little time organizing your work area is an easy method for how to deal with stress at work and will provide dividends in productivity by preventing things falling through the cracks. Giving yourself an orientation of projects and tasks will give you comfort and confidence to take on the work day. So, adjust your chair, desk, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Load the printer, gather a couple of pens, pull out some scrap paper, turn on some background noise/music, slurp some coffee, tea, or water and then – get to work!
Five: Review your master task list and get clear about your objectives for the day. Identify important tasks and urgent priorities and record in a planner. Track how you spend every hour: time on the phone, time with colleagues, online training, virtual meetings, and writing emails. Be sure to request feedback.
These five strategies will combat the effects of stress on things like heart rate and blood sugar. Never forget, when you are in the fight or flight response, heart rate quickens and blood sugars are released. If this occurs several times a day, it leads to physical and mental exhaustion. The negative effects of stress are real. Watch for these warning signs.
Scheduling breaks throughout the day is one of the ways to manage job stress during the work day. Experiment by adjusting your work schedule, such as bursts of 25 minutes of focus and then a five-minute break, or work 60 minutes and take a ten-minute break, or work 90 minutes and take a fifteen-minute break. Find your groove.
Look forward to learning something new. Create a learning adventure. Brainstorm creative options to keep life interesting such as classes, courses, seminars, workshops, or conferences. Consider joining different professional associations or learning a new communication technology.
The warning signs of feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work will be different for each and every one of us. Some people get a headache, upset stomach, or shortness of breath, some get grumpy, some people get grouchy, some people go looking for a fight. Monitor your mental health. Ask yourself, “How am I today, really?”
Create routines to manage the stress during a prolonged stressful situation. Relieve stress by literally creating a checklist of strategies to implement throughout day. Just like scheduling breakfast lunch, and dinner, schedule stress management activities. Learn to laugh easily when you feel stressed at work. There is plenty of job stress, so there will probably be plenty to laugh about.
Finally, here are a few things you can do to relieve stress in your personal life to avoid negative effects on your physical and mental health: exercising will boost endorphins, communicating with family and friends can provide emotional support, and going to bed a little earlier for adequate rest.
Create a night-time routine. Prepare meals and snacks for the next day including vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, snacks. Set out what you will wear the next day.
Wind down. Decide on a set bedtime, shut down electronics, enjoy a light snack, warm drink, warm shower or bath, listen to music, read a book, and keep a note pad on your night stand to jot down thoughts and ideas.
Of course, there are healthy levels of stress, however, everyone has a different threshold. You need a certain amount a stress to stay motivated and focused on your goals and objectives, just dial in the right amount.
If you need to find a motivational keynote speaker, plenary speaker, breakout speaker, concurrent session speaker, seminar leader, or workshop facilitator who can deliver in-person, virtually, or via prerecorded session, Kit Welchlin earned an M.A. (Master of Arts Degree in Speech Communication), the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association), the CVP (Certified Virtual Presenter Designation from eSpeakers), and is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at www.welchlin.com.