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16 Ways to Manage Stress at Work

As you can see, job stress is detrimental to your career and overall quality of life. Here are some tips to help you deal with stress at work:

1. Address conflict without adding to it

Conflicts are going to happen at any job – whether it’s between coworkers or managers, it’s inevitable. What you do with that conflict, though, determines if it’ll be a stress point or not.

  • Don’t let conflict continue. If there’s a fight between employees, or you are an employee and are butting heads with someone else, it needs to be addressed. Use conflict management solutions outlined in the employee handbook. Ignoring conflict doesn’t make it go away. It makes it get bigger.
  • Avoid punitive responses. Punishment, instead of reward, creates fear, which creates stress. Resolve conflicts and problems positively, and not through negative reinforcement.

2. Create a sense of loyalty to your workers

By showing that you trust and value your workers, you create a sense of loyalty and safety. That reduces stress.

48% of workers who say their employers aren’t loyal to them are dissatisfied with their job stress levels, compared to just 26% of workers who are happy with their employer’s loyalty. Being in a culture of loyalty and trust reduces unnecessary stress significantly.

3. Avoid irregular work schedules as much as possible

Salaried workers don’t have to deal with varying work schedules, but hourly employees do. And it’s a huge stressor. Almost 30% of workers with irregular schedules report having serious work and family conflicts over the issue.

Random shift changes, on-call work schedules can all lead to stress, because workers are constantly in limbo when it comes to balance between work and life. They never know when they’ll need to work with much advance, and it’s difficult for them to make personal plans or even decompress when they could be called to work at any moment.

Try to create schedules that your employees can “bank” on. Make sudden changes as rare as possible. Make it possible for your employees to rely on a steady schedule enough that they can arrange a solid personal life around their work schedule. This will help them return to work refreshed.

4. Make wellness a part of the workplace

Since stress can create physical illness, doing what you can to keep your employees healthy can combat stress. There are several ways employers can encourage wellness:

  • Gym memberships. You can give gym memberships (or discounts) to employees.
  • Wearable technology. Give devices like the FitBit or JawBone Up, which measure steps, heart rate, and activity. Have competitions in which employees compete to be the most active to win prizes.
  • Provide healthy snacks. Make healthy snacks available in the breakroom instead of junk food and sugary soda.
  • Free checkups. Partner with a local clinic to offer free tests for employees, such as blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure.
  • Encourage breaks. Make sure your employees take their breaks and take the time off coming to them.

Healthy and rested employees are less stressed and do better work. It’s that simple.

5. Know the difference between good stress and bad stress

Not all stress is bad, and not all stress can (or should) be avoided.

Good stress motivates you. Deadlines, tests, or being asked to speak in front of other people — these are all situations that create stress, but they are also what motivates us. Good stress tends to be short-term and can even enhance or improve brain function. When the pressure is on, the brain sharpens up.

Bad stress, however, is chronic. It harms your health, slows you down, and can even start to inhibit thinking.

Essentially, stress uses your fight-or-flight response. Good stress gives you time to recover from that response, but bad stress locks you into it and wears you down. It’s important to know the difference between good and bad stress so you know which is the problem and which is actually helping you.

6. Learn to identify signs of stress

You might not even know you’re feeling stressed. Sounds strange, but it’s possible. Even if you don’t know the true level of stress you’re feeling, your body does. The damage that stress does happens whether you are aware it’s bad or not.

There are several signs that stress might be affecting you:

  • Feeling anxious, grumpy, or depressed.
  • Feeling apathy or disinterest in your job.
  • Feeling overwhelming dread about your job.
  • Difficulty getting a good night’s sleep.
  • General fatigue and tiredness.
  • Difficulty in concentrating on tasks.
  • Tight or sore muscles.
  • Stomach pains.
  • Headaches.
  • Socially withdrawing from others (if this is unusual for you).
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or other destructive coping mechanisms.

If you see a pattern like this list in your life, you need to take action.

7. Tell someone you are struggling with stress

It helps to tell someone that you’re struggling with stress, whether that’s a manager or a coworker. They may be able to help you, or point you to someone who can.

  1. Consider outcomes you’d like to see. Before you go speak with a manager, have a few ideas of what a resolution would look like. You may get a chance to offer them as a solution.
  2. Know the specific source of stress. If it’s a specific person, a shift, or tasks that are more than you can handle, be ready to coherently state your case. It’s hard for a manager to hear “I’m stressed!” and know what to do to relieve it if they don’t know the specific things causing it.
  3. Be ready to discuss collateral effects. If you know others are similarly stressed, let your manager know. Not everyone has the courage to speak up, but if others remain stressed, it will seep into all workers.

It’s not a shameful thing, that you’re stressed. It’s worse if you don’t get help and let it build. Most managers would rather employees came and told them they were having stress issues on the job rather than find out through missed deadlines or low productivity.

8. Try to find humor in the situation

Stress isn’t funny, but some situations that cause stress can be seen as humorous if you make the effort.

A good laugh is a good thing. Research has shown that laughter reduces stress and has other positive benefits. Not only does it relieve the stress response, but it brings more oxygen into your body, activates your body, and soothes tension.

Being angry or worrying, on the other hand, is extremely unhealthy, harming your heart, your immune system, and even increasing your risk for stroke.

9. Form positive relationships as much as you can

  • Be a good listener.
  • Be sincere but generous in complimenting someone else’s work.
  • Help someone who needs it.
  • Be willing to teach or mentor someone with less experience than you.
  • Avoid gossiping or speaking negatively about anyone else on the job.
  • If conflict or problems have to be addressed, use positive language and avoid accusations or painting someone in a negative light.

Deciding to be positive can go a long way towards relieving job stress. It can make some situations go away, and for those that persist, it can give you a better attitude about them so you don’t feel the stress nearly as much as you might have otherwise.

10. Address physical issues that are adding to stress

  1. Stand or sit. Stand more if you sit a lot. Sit if you stand a lot. If you sit, you’re wearing out your back. If you stand, your feet get tired. Break things up, give your body a break.
  2. Move around. Walk on your break. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk in place behind the counter if there are no customers. A good rule of thumb is to avoid sitting or being in one position for more than an hour.
  3. Stretch your muscles. Do basic head, neck, arm, and leg stretches to get the blood flowing. It’s amazing how stress and tension end up locked in the muscles of the body. Work that out through stretches.
  4. Consume less caffeine and sugar. Excessive use of caffeine and sugar make you edgy and jumpy. Consuming more than 350 mg of caffeine a day can cause energy-sapping dehydration issues. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of candy or carbs. Drink water or herbal tea instead of soda and coffee.
  5. Avoid nicotine. It seems like nicotine relaxes you, but it’s actually a stimulant. It’s going to exacerbate the physical effects of stress.
  6. Take it easy on alcohol. While alcohol can temporarily reduce worry and some of the other symptoms of stress, it increases them even more when the alcohol wears off.
  7. Get enough sleep. Being tired makes even the smallest thing a huge crisis. Get plenty of sleep. Show up to work rested and ready.
  8. Change your surroundings. Use aromatherapy, humidifiers, air purifiers, white noise, cushion mat, or anything that helps create the physical surroundings that will help you calm down and make you less tired. Making an effort to improve your physical office space can transform a stress-filled room into a zen office.
  9. If you’re sick, stay home. Your body is already struggling. No need to add even minor, regular work stress to the load.

The first thing to do when you feel stressed is to address the physical first. It might be enough to do the trick in that moment.

11. Take the breaks you are given

Take your allotted breaks.

If there’s a park or bit of nature nearby, go there. If your work environment is stressing you out, try to change your environment, either by going someplace else (even just sitting in your car) or by reading to get your mind in a different place.

You need a break, especially if you’re stressed. If management makes it difficult to take a break, press the issue. You have a legal right to breaks.

12. Find a way to help others

Oddly enough, when you help other people, you feel great.

An American Journal of Public Health study found that when someone was dealing with stress, but helped others, they reduced the physical dangers associated with stress.

It sounds crazy — when you’re super stressed, who has time to help someone else? However, turning your attention from yourself to someone else can relieve the self-feeding negativity that serious stress creates.

If you’re feeling stressed, help someone else.

13. Stay off of social media as much as possible during work

Constant connection and the interruption of technology can increase your stress levels.

Social media, for example, can make you aware of stressful events happening to other people or in other places. They might not have any bearing on your life, but you allow yourself to feel stressed about them anyway. It’s called the cost of caring.

Stay off social media and mobile devices as much as possible when on the job. The last thing you need is drama via social media or text messaging while you’re trying to get your work done.

14. Learn to accept what is in your control, and what isn’t

Some things are out of your control.

Find ways to make the things that are out of your control more bearable. If where you work is too noisy, maybe noise cancelling headphones would help.

For example, getting stressed about the traffic on the way to work is completely unhelpful. You can’t control the traffic. The best you can do is leave early enough so you have plenty of time to get to work. If leaving late is adding stress because the traffic makes you late for work leaving you apologizing or making excuses for why you’re late, you’re needlessly adding to your stress. You can’t control the traffic, but you can control when you leave home.

Make changes to what you can control. The rest is not worth getting upset about.

15. Prepare ahead of time as much as possible

The most stressful time of the day for workers is the morning, or when they start their shift.

You can’t always prepare everything ahead of time. If someone leaves a mess when you arrive for your shift, there’s not much you can do about it other than try to work with them and get them to do better.

But, wherever possible, prep ahead of time. Think of it like this: how you start your work day sets the tone for the rest of it. If you start it in a panic, a rush, the whole day is going to be stressful. It’ll feel as if you never get caught up or on good footing.

Preparing ahead of time might be:

  • Setting up tools or products that you’ll need to use.
  • Mentally considering challenges you’ll face and how you’ll diffuse them.
  • Exercising, or physically preparing yourself for the work you need to do to avoid physical injury or tiredness.

16. Remember to breathe

In a stressful moment, don’t forget to breathe.

It sounds a little silly, but people generally take shallow breaths. Closing your eyes and breathing in deep and the letting that breath out slowly can help slow down and reduce your negative physical reactions to stress. It can also help you control your reaction to a tense situation that might otherwise escalate into something more stressful.

It’s not a long-term fix, but it can help negate some of the effects on your physical body in that moment of conflict.


Source by: Sam Campbell – WhenIWork Blog

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