Take these 6 steps to feel less stressed at work
Stress is the bane of our modern lives. From workloads to deadlines, from having to perform at peak levels without let-up to not having enough time to get everything done, the pressure is on – and it seems out of your control. What can you do?
Actually, in moderation, stress can be a good thing. It gets the adrenaline pumping and helps you to focus on the task in hand, making you more productive in your work. Too much stress, on the other hand, can seriously interfere with your work performance, your productivity, your mental wellbeing, and even your physical health.
The good news is that you don’t have to suffer. Granted, it’s not easy to combat existing stress at work – even if you changed jobs, would it be so different in the new office? – but there are tried and tested strategies that will help.
- Recognise your personal stress triggers
Do you know where your stress is coming from? Are there particular situations, circumstances or persons that will trigger you every time? The first step to dealing with stress is to understand how it affects you.
Keep a stress journal for at least a week, ideally a month, and log every stressful situation that you encountered, how it came about and how you responded to it. Also make a note of your thoughts and feelings at the time.
At the end of the period, review your journal and see if you notice recurring stress patterns and reactions that you can start to address.
- Master your time management techniques
Everyone has a different way of processing the workload they’re given, and with different levels of efficiency. How do you like to work? Do you have systems in place for making sure the most important, or the most urgent, get done first? Do you have the freedom to work on whatever takes your fancy on any given day? Do you react instantly to other people’s demands? How much of your work can you delegate to others, and do you actually?
Without effective time management strategies at your disposal, it’s easy to feel swamped with work and unable to cope. Luckily, there are plenty of time management tools out there, and they can all be learned. Once you’ve mastered the best use of your time, you will be amazed at the results in terms of better productivity, lower stress levels, and more job satisfaction.
- Learn to say no
It’s a good personnel trait to show willing and to be seen go the extra mile at the office; you’ll be considered to be a reliable and valuable team member. Committing to additional responsibilities or taking on more projects may also be a good strategy for promotion. However, you must know where your limits are.
If you say yes to every request for additional work made by your boss or even your colleagues, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that you are taking on too much. Higher stress levels will be the inevitable result. Instead of worrying about letting the team down or feeling guilty about disappointing your superiors, assess carefully whether you actually have the capacity to say yes.
- Make downtime a priority
When you’re not working, it’s important to switch off from the 24/7 media driven world we all operate in. But unplugging from the computer, tablet, smartphone, even the TV, is the best thing you can do to give your brain a much-needed break. It’s a good discipline to give yourself a couple of hours of digital downtime every evening.
On days off, make a point to relax completely and forget all about work. This highly prized personal time should be sacrosanct, so don’t use it to fret about what’s going on at the office. Instead, ringfence your personal downtime and make room for leisure activities, recharge your batteries and reconnect with your personal hopes and dreams.
- Get some exercise
Endorphins are the feelgood chemicals that our body releases during physical activity. It’s why exercise is such a well-known stress buster, a mood lifter, and re-energizer. It will help you sleep better too.
There’s no need to go all out and join the gym unless, of course, that’s your thing. Anything that helps you move your body will do. Housework, gardening, cycling, swimming, playing with the kids in the garden are just some examples that you could fit into your daily routine.
Walking, for instance, is one of the healthiest and potentially most enjoyable forms of gentle exercises that pretty much everyone can do. Whether you walk to work, take a short stroll at lunchtime, take the dog out in the evening, or go for a hike with the kids at the weekend, there are untold benefits to be reaped in addition to getting fitter.
- Talk about your feelings
There’s a lot of truth in the old adage that ‘a problem aired is a problem shared’. Sometimes, just talking about an issue that is bothering you, or letting off steam with a friend over an after work drink, can work wonders in terms of stress release. In fact, the other person may not even have to be able to help – just being there and listening to you can be good therapy.
If you’re stuck in a stressful situation at work and none of the above strategies have made such a difference, then perhaps it’s time to seek professional help. Many counselors and psychotherapists specialize in stress management (such as Southdowns Psychotherapy) and will work with you to find successful coping strategies and a way forward to enable you to change your life for the better.
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