8 Tips to Shrug off Stress with Ease
Work-related stress has grown into a huge problem. In 2013, the APA reported that over one third of working Americans are chronically stressed at work. And in 2016, 65% of Americans reported work as their main source of stress (source).
Stress makes you feel anxious and overwhelmed, and it dampens your productivity. In this article, I want to show you eight ways to cope with stressful work situations, as well as feelings that are hindering your potential. But first, let’s take a look at the sources of stress.
Unclear expectations and a perceived glass ceiling are the icing on this stress-filled cake. When you don’t know what your boss actually expects you to do and how to perform, you could constantly feel anxious. “Am I doing too little? Do I need to be more productive?” Not being able to take any steps up the career ladder can induce the very same thoughts. A lack of positive feedback can feed these feelings of fear.
Why Are You Stressed Out?
Before we get to the solutions, let’s identify the problem, and make sure that we’re all on the same page about what causes stress at work. Probably the most obvious, common source is being flooded with ever new tasks. You simply feel like you don’t get anything done, because whatever you do, your pile of work always stays the same size, or it may even grow.
On the flipside of that coin, boring, unengaging work could make you feel disconnected. Nevertheless, you’ll still feel like you can’t get anything done if you’re overtasked; as if you just can’t get anything done. The reason behind that is probably that you don’t see any value in what you’re doing. Having to do work that doesn’t matter can be just as stressful as too much responsibility; both can feel like the sword of Damocles.
How to Cope with Stress
Now I will show you some easy ways to reduce your everyday stress. The old adage “just relax” seems like an obvious inclusion, but it doesn’t really resolve your stressful feelings. Instead, you will learn how to consciously change the way you generally approach your work and your life.
1. Identify Your Sources of Stress
Not every person gets stressed out by the same things. Finding out what makes you anxious and stressed is the very first step in finding out which further actions you have to take. A good way to articulate your feelings is to start is a work diary. For a few weeks, detail every situation that stresses you out. Afterward, assess your notes, and find patterns.
2. Eat Healthily and on a Regular Base
A healthy diet is important to keeping your mind and body functioning. If you cut down on fast food and go for a fresh salad, it can go a long way. You will feel more energized and less tired. And as a result, you’ll get more work done. That’s a good way to prevent huge piles of unfinished tasks.
Also, don’t forget to regularly eat meals. Allow your body to adapt to a food schedule, and in order to avoid snacking, structure your day.
Make your food breaks strict no-work zones. Leave your desk, and allow your mind to wander freely. Have a quick talk with your colleagues about the movie you watched yesterday. Anything is fine, as long as you disconnect from your work for a bit. When you go back to your desk, you will feel refreshed, and have a clear mind again.
3. Always Try to Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Every Night!
I know it’s not always easy to get a full 8 hours of sleep, but you should always make an effort to. When you are confronted with new tasks, being tired at work will make you feel helpless and overwhelmed. So if you just sleep it off, you’ll be less grumpy!
Try to establish a sleeping schedule. Get to bed punctually, and don’t fall asleep in front of the TV.
4. Move Your Body
Physical activity can do wonders for your mental well-being. It doesn’t matter if you go for a run, lift some weights, or participate in a yoga course. Every form of exercise will help you calm down, and sort out your wandering thoughts. Making a habit out of it will also provide you with something to look forward to when you’re at the office.
While at work, if you feel dizzy or overwhelmed, you should consider taking a quick walk around the block. If you move your body for just 10 minutes, it will break your mental barriers.
5. Plan and Prioritize
A lot of stress can be caused by inefficiently organizing your day. It’s important to keep a clear structure in your workflow, so you won’t feel surprised by a new task. Make clear time blocks, solely for your most important tasks. You have to learn to set priorities: Every task that your boss puts on your table is not more important than what you are doing right now, just because it’s new.
Another way to keep a clear view of your tasks at hand is to have proper tools:
- Task management tools like Asana help you keep track of what you have to do, so you can structure your day.
- Tools for reviewing and approving, such as Filestage, will create an ongoing review process. And they will keep your creative workflow easy and streamlined.
- Collaboration on bigger projects can be organized through tools like Trello.
Sometimes, a little bit of self-discipline is also needed. A cluttered desk creates a cluttered mind. Thus, a tidy and simple workplace is a necessity for a structured workflow. Be 10 minutes early, instead of being “right on time” (which is usually about 1 minute too late). Then you’ll be able to take a deep breath before engaging in that important meeting.
When you start thinking about how things are getting t out of hand, immediately start to delegating tasks. Also, just learn to say no— even to your boss! You are supposed to do your tasks well, after all, so your boss will understand.
6. Remove Distractions and Time Killers
Being distracted and losing your concentration is fatal to your productivity. Bad productivity leads to a lot of unfinished tasks, which can pile up and create a lot of stress. Therefore, you should find and eliminate your personal time-killers as soon as possible. We compiled an unconventional guide on how to do so for you, which you can find here.
7. Keep a Good Work/Life Balance
When coping with stress, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is letting it flood into your private life. It’s crucial to set clear boundaries: Work is work, and that’s where it belongs! A good way to keep work-related stress away from your hearth and home is to truly disconnect when you leave the office.
Stop thinking about anything work-related at home. And take vacations; they will help you develop inspiration and restore your spirit.
Also, make sure to prevent conflicts between your work and personal life. If it’s your anniversary, take the day off, and go out for a nice dinner with your partner. Also, free up some time for hobbies and things you enjoy doing. Watching TV, going to the cinema, or playing video games may feel like time running down the drain. But as John Lennon put it: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
Stress can make you feel overwhelmed and helpless. So it’s good to share the weight and seek support. When you are confronted with a problem you think you can’t solve, ask your colleagues at work about it. Leaping before you look will most likely waste time, and it could cause misunderstandings and conflicts.
Confront your boss with your feelings. Together, you will be able to work out a solution for the stressful situation you’re in right now. And after work, there are always your friends and family members who can talk you out of the negativity and stress you’ve built up.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to cope with stress at work. However, the most important step has to be finding out exactly what makes you feel stressed.
Feel free to try out all the tips I showed you in this article. And let me know which ones worked best for you!
Do you have any other tips for dealing with stress? Write them in the comments below.