Your job can be one of the contributors to your stress. It’s inevitable—there are things beyond your control that could impact your emotional health. With the notion that a healthy career refers to being stress-free, how can one eliminate stress at work?
Too much stress wreaks havoc on every aspect of our lives. Although the human body is designed to experience and react to it, we can only handle so much. According to a statistics report, 83% of US employees experience work-related stress. That’s an alarming figure for a subject that affects a person’s overall health and work productivity.
What Are the Effects of Stress on Your Body?
Stress can be helpful in staying focused, but most of the time, it’s the opposite. Stress can do so many things to the human body. It disrupts a person’s totality to the extent that it ruins all aspects of his life, be it personal, mental, career-wise, or physical.
There are a lot of reasons why a person experiences this in a work setting. It could be because of the amount of workload, work environment, colleagues, management, demanding boss, long shifts, and the pressure to perform well. All these stress-inducing factors can lead to a stressful job.
But how do you know you are under stress at work? It starts when you feel constant nagging anxiety, loss of interest in tasks, chronic work burnout, trouble in sleep, lack of concentration, consistent headaches, social withdrawal, and alcohol or drug dependency. You can cut down these symptoms once you find ways to eliminate stress at work.
How to Eliminate Stress at Work
While you can’t control everything around your office—it does not mean that you are powerless even if you’re in a stressful situation. Here are some helpful stress control techniques that you can use to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
1. Start your day right.
Boost your morning with some good habits. The first key step is to figure out how much sleep you need to get and wake up early. Having a good night’s sleep will boost your mood, sharper brain, and healthier body. Waking up early allows you to practice morning habits or routines that will set you up for success.
You can start doing simple actions in the morning that will make you start your day feeling accomplished. Taking a small step like making your bed when you wake up creates inner calm. There is a survey conducted by Best Mattress Brand, of 1,000 American participants, half make their beds and another half that skips the routine. The survey shows that making your bed can give you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel productive throughout the day. In fact, 58% of those who make their beds and 63% of non-bed makers said they were productive. The data also revealed that those who made their bed were more likely to complete a task.
Other simple habits that you can do every morning to a productive start are:
- Practicing daily gratitude
- Stretching or exercising
- Eating a healthy breakfast
- Writing down a to-do list
- Brushing your teeth
- Listening to positive and inspirational talks
These may seem unimportant or unnecessary, but taking charge and completing simple tasks gives you more energy, a better attitude, more efficiency, and clearer thoughts.
2. Identify your stressors and think of ways to avoid them.
Acknowledge what makes you feel stressed in your work. That way, you can easily track down what you should avoid easing your problems. You can start by making a list of the situations, concerns, or challenges that trigger your stress response. Major personal stressors may include:
- Perceived loss
- Mind or Thoughts
Some stressors originate from within (Internal), such as fears and uncertainty, and lack of control. While others are events that happen to you (External), such as major life changes, traumatic events, and your environment.
Recognize and be aware of thoughts that cause you stress. Being able to identify your stressors is the first step in learning to better manage those. Here are some tips to avoid unnecessary stress:
- Learn to say “no” to unnecessary tasks.
Learn to refuse such requests gracefully. For example, you can try saying, “I’d love to, but I have other priorities at the moment.”
Avoid or deal with people who stress you out.
You can limit the amount of time you spend with that person and know when it’s time to distance yourself.
Take control of your environment.
Create your own space or a dedicated relaxation room if you need a breather. Clutters can have a negative impact on your mental health. Therefore, you need to declutter and organize your living environment.
3. Build good relationships.
Having a work companion is an excellent way to relieve work-related stress. When you have someone who will cheer you on in both times of triumphs and despair, you can somehow forget your existing stressors. Being alone would just make you even more stressed in the long run, so socialize more to find good company.
You can follow these steps to build relationships in the workplace:
Develop people skills.
Talk to people about what they want to hear, like common interests, goals, experiences, ideas, and aspirations. This will make it easier for you to get and hold their attention. You can also make it a habit to show your appreciation. Saying “Thank you” makes people feel appreciated, or you can compliment them about their accomplishments, traits, or skills.
Consider offering your coworkers assistance to take the burden off if they are struggling to complete a task. You can also ask for assistance to initiate a workplace relationship.
Gossiping can ruin workplace relationships and create a backstabbing environment that makes a workplace unbearable to work in.
Remain positive and friendly.
Treat everyone with respect and demonstrate a positive attitude.
4. Learn to prioritize and organize.
You tend to get more pressured when your tasks are disorganized. Learning to manage your tasks in digestible chunks will pave the way for a healthier balance of your work and mental health. Prioritize the tasks that speak your responsibilities and organize properly how you will take them on the top, down to the littlest of things. This way, you have more room to breathe, knowing that you have managed your tasks effectively.
Make a to-do list. List all of the tasks you want to accomplish for the day, starting with the important tasks to the less important ones. Analyze the less important tasks to avoid unnecessary tasks. Don’t try to rush yourself just to finish your tasks earlier. Set realistic deadlines.
5. Omit bad habits.
Bad habits come in various forms—being too helpful, too kind, distracted, or even perfect. You commit these habits unknowingly, which could easily impact your work. When you juggle everything just to achieve perfection, you miss out on valuable things like time. It’s good to be keen on detail and be helpful. However, it could ruin your overall performance if you focus on the wrong things. What are the common bad habits in the workplace, and how to avoid them?
Having a lazy attitude and delaying your work to completion has negative effects on the quality of your work. In addition, it increases your stress levels as you rush to complete tasks before the deadline.
Arriving late at work and returning late from breaks displays bad carelessness and complacency. Moreover, it shows disrespect to your coworkers and the social contract of the workplace.
Negative body language.
Demonstrating rude non-verbal communication habits, such as rolling your eyes, not making eye contact, or invading personal space, can damage your relationships and may offend people.
Emotional outbursts or losing temper shows that you cannot work well under pressure. Also, responding to frustration will only escalate the situation and cause stress in the workplace.
6. Manage time properly.
Failing to manage your time wisely will only result in unmet deadlines. By learning to assign respective time duration for your to-do list, you are heading in the right direction. When you know how to follow your time arrangement and meet deadlines, you ease the worry of having too much on your plate.
If you are having difficulties managing your time and responsibilities, you need to evaluate your time and how you spend it. Keeping a time log can help you examine and break down how you use your time. Record your activities in a day and how long it took you to complete each activity. Do this activity for at least five days to help you set your priorities and adjust or manage your time accordingly.
7. Eat nutritious food.
The nutrients you take have an impact on your mental and physical health. Steer clear of sugar-spiked snacks and drinks, as well as caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Sugar makes you feel more tired and irritable, whereas caffeine and alcohol serve as stimulants that increase your stress.
You should go for food highly enriched with omega-3 fatty acids that will improve your mood and depression. These foods include nuts, beans, fish, green leafy vegetables, and lean meat. You can try herbal teas, more water, and diluted fruit juices as an alternative to coffee.
8. Allot time for exercise or other physical activities.
Doing physical activities sharpens your focus and lifts your mood in a snap. Aim to allot at least 30 minutes of a quick workout daily like yoga to easily de-stress and detoxify your body. Exercises decrease stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol while promoting the release of endorphins—chemicals that induce happiness.
9. Take deep breaths.
When you find yourself under extreme pressure, practice pausing from your work for a moment and taking deep, slow breaths. Doing so will instantaneously break the tension and clear up your mind. Once you have broken up from the strain, it’s easier to reset and start to think clearly.
Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It can be anywhere as long as you are comfortable. You can sit with your back supported against the back of the chair. You can also lie on your back on the floor or in the bed. Then, do any of these breathing exercises to improve energy and mood:
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly.
- Breathe in and out while you feel your belly lower and rise.
- Repeat three more times.
- Focusing on your breath. You can also picture a word or phrase in your mind.
- Take a few big, deep breaths to get started.
- Imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm as you breathe in.
- Imagine that the air leaves with your stress as you breathe out.
- Continue for several minutes.
- Inhale and exhale for the same count.
- Inhale through your nose as you count to five.
- Exhale through your nose as you count to five.
- Repeat several times.
10. Accept that there are things beyond your control.
Stop worrying about everything—you can only do so much as an employee. When you make a big deal out of everything, you are only wrecking your own mental health. It is indeed hard to avoid worrying, but there are just things beyond your control that you have to accept.
Say you easily get distracted by workplace noise, why don’t you invest in noise-canceling headphones to resolve it? You can do more if you think it through instead of dwelling on its disadvantages to you. It counts to act rather than react to things thrown at you.
Keep these helpful tips to eliminate stress at work when all indicators tell you that you are succumbing to work-related stress. Do not let yourself drown in stress that dismantles not just your mental health but also your personal life, physical health, and career. There are many ways you can eliminate stress at work to achieve a healthier job environment for you.
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