How to Manage Stress at Work
Alright, so let’s be honest for a moment; even if you love your job, you have definitely been stressed at work at one time or another. Whether it’s because you have a deadline pending, a frustrating client call, or a curveball thrown at you last minute, these situations that are often beyond our control can cause undue stress to our working lives.
Though this is common, and probably fluctuates across different times and circumstances, finding a ‘low stress’ job is like stumbling across a four-leaf clover. So, rare, but not impossible.
A much more realistic approach is to understand where your stress is coming from and find ways to diminish or more effectively cope with the bad stress in your current job.
Let’s clarify what we mean by ‘bad stress’. While stress can also be a good thing, (for example, the push some people need to complete challenges, deadlines, or important tasks) mostly, the common interpretation when we say we are stressed is…
1. A situation or event is putting pressure on us, like having lots of work tasks to complete or think about.
2. Our reaction to being placed under pressure particularly with demands that we find difficult to cope with.
There is no medical definition for stress so this can make it difficult for you to identify what is causing your feeling of stress or how to deal with it. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) we all experience stress differently, and so our coping mechanisms and strategies can widely vary.
What these coping strategies tend to boil down to are:
- Managing your external pressures
- Increasing your emotional resilience
How to cope with stress at work
Okay, great, so I can now identify what stress is, but how do I deal with it in a work situation? Especially when working remotely?
Well, stress can be a very negative experience, one that feels like it is taking over your entire life. But worry not, you don’t have to get through it alone.
Here are some ideas that you can try to lift some of the pressures stress is causing you:
Have clarity on requirements
Sometimes, our stress can come from working towards deadlines or the need to complete certain tasks. It can be helpful to be completely sure on the requirements of the task you are trying to complete, to ensure you haven’t made it more complicated than it needs to be.
Be sure on the deadlines, scale and depth of a project before allowing stress to enter the equation. You could be getting worked up over something that can be easily fixed.
I don’t know about you, but I need my to-do list. There are so many plates spinning at once that it can be easy to get stressed if you feel they are spinning out of control.
Staying organized and on top of your workload can help keep stress levels low. Knowing what needs to be achieved and when can help you to manage your time, focusing on the time sensitive tasks first and removing elements of rushing or avoidable stress from your schedule.
It has been proven time and time again that multitasking doesn’t work. Did you know that, only 2% of the population can multitask effectively? Think you are in that 2%? Sorry, but you probably aren’t.
And that’s okay. But one great way to keep stress levels low is, in conjunction with your super organized to-do list, just focusing on one task at a time. By doing so, you can devote your whole focusing ability to that one task, keeping your mind dedicated and usually, able to complete it quicker.
Go for a walk
Admittedly, this one can be difficult right now, in the height of the pandemic, but getting outside for a short walk can do wonders for your stress levels. Not only is it good for you physically (more on that shortly) but it reminds you that there is more to your life than your current work
See the sky, breathe some fresh air, hear birdsong; even just getting out of your workspace for a change of scenery can help mitigate some of that stress in your mind.
Want VTT’s 5 top tips for a healthy virtual team? Check out this article.
Watch your perfectionism
Hard as it can be to accept, sometimes ‘good enough’ is better. We all have the potential to be perfectionists, especially if it is a task or project that means a lot to us. But sometimes, chasing that perfectionism will just add to your stress levels.
Sometimes, accepting that ‘good enough’ is the right level of perfect can be a huge reliever of stress from your day.
While we have mentioned getting outside for a walk, being mindful of your physical health is also key in managing your stress at work. Especially thanks to the pandemic, we are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, centered around our homes.
Getting some exercise, whether going for a run, a brisk walk, or doing some yoga in your lounge, anything to get your heart beating just a little quicker, can do wonders for your stress levels. Not only through the act itself, but the ‘feel good’ factor afterwards.
Get a good work life balance
Considering how many of us are working remotely now, particularly those of us who are working from home, getting a good work life balance is vital. It is so easy to find yourself working well beyond your hours, or missing your lunch break, due to the constraints of lockdown.
Ensuring you have a good work life balance is key to keeping stress levels low. Much of it is in our mentality.
Allow us to reiterate:
You have holiday entitlement: yes, okay, right now you can’t go anywhere, but you still need time off. Have a home holiday, take some “you” time, go do some of that exercise we talked about.
Also, find things that relax you outside of work: painting, drawing, gaming with friends online, watching movies, starting an online course for that skill you’ve always wanted to learn.
Find things to fill your life besides work. It will do wonders for those stress levels. Trust us.
If you are struggling with stress and need some more help, check out the charity MIND. They are a great resource for all things mental health and have some really great tips and advice on how to manage stress.
You can find out more here - Signs of stress | Mind