How to Manage Stress at Work
Stress is part of far too many peoples daily work lives. It can be caused by a mountain of things or it can be caused by just one issue – either way, as workers, we need to learn how to handle and reduce stress. In a survey, 75% of Australians said that stress affects their physical health and 64% said that it affects their mental health. Shockingly, just over half of Australians experiencing stress do not seek help. While stress is a normal human emotion and can be a motivator in certain work situations, it can also be a major factor in high staff turnover, unproductivity, and physical and mental health issues.
So here are a few ways to help manage stress that isn’t serving you!
Track what is stressing you
The best way to start destressing is to determine the factors that are causing you stress in the first place. When you start to stress, instead of continuing your day on a bad path take a moment to stop and write down what has stressed you and why. This can allow you to analyse and then take steps to go about this cause of stress. Sometimes, you might write something down, sit back, read it, and realise ‘wow, maybe I don’t need to be so stressed about this’.
Practice breathing exercises
Deep breaths really do help. You can always experiment with different breathing exercises to see what calms you down the best. A good habit to get into is doing a set of breathing exercises two or three times a day, ensuring that one of those times is in the morning. This allows you to have a good start and it will remind you to take a break and pace yourself throughout the day.
Learn how to act and not purely react
In a high-stress situation, it’s easy to react and get angry, frustrated or annoyed. But the best thing you can do is take a step back, practice one of those breathing exercises and think about what needs to be done to resolve the problem. When you instantly accept the issue for what it is, you will be able to strategise and be logical about fixing it. When you purely react, you work yourself up and become more stressed or annoyed than you originally were. Try to avoid only reacting! (Please note that reacting is normal, it takes time and practice to start to become more aware of our reactions and how to control them).
Take a break
Sometimes it’s important to get some air. Wherever you work, whatever you do, you can’t stay in the same place all day and expect to feel refreshed. Go for a walk, try and eat your lunch away from your desk, sit on a bench in the sun for five minutes or call someone you love. Do anything that will help your mind be distracted from the stress. In being distracted and not feeding tensions within you, you can start to let go of them.
Get better sleep
When we don’t get enough sleep, our neurons can’t function properly and often our brains begin to react as if we had been drinking too much. (Too much alcohol, to clarify). Lack of sleep effects moods and productivity which in turn causes more stress. So, try and keep a good sleeping pattern that gives you a full eight hours of uninterrupted rest.
Exercise and maintain a healthy diet
Another practical tip. We’ve all heard about the benefits of a good diet and a consistent exercise regime. It does help lift moods and raise energy levels, so there is no harm in incorporating this into your routine.
Be around the right people
An enjoyable remedy to stress is to socialise. Sometimes socialising causes more stress for people, understandably, it can be tiring. But when I say socialising, I mean spending quality time with the people you want to. Be with friends and family who are supportive and loving and who make you feel good. The best people to be around are those you find funny. Laughing is a great way to release tension, feel joy, and relax.
Practicing gratitude is a great way to feel content and happy about the things you already have and the parts of life that are going well for you. When you focus on the positive and have a good understanding of how lucky you are, whatever is stressing you becomes less prominent and much more manageable. Rather than seeing the things that stress you as giant hurdles to jump over you will be able to plan around them and think about them in a straightforward way that doesn’t make you feel anxious.
When talking with friends or family, let them know what is stressing you. Not in a way that asks them to take care of it, just in a way that allows you to release your concerns and have someone listen. It’s also a good idea, that if you can’t see any way out of your stress, to have a useful conversation with your manager to find out what can be done about your situation. Work stress can be caused by having too much on your plate, not being paid enough, not having enough direction, having too much interference in your work or simply being overworked. It can also be because you need more time for home life. When your manager is aware of your concerns, action can be taken to ease the pressure on you.
The one thing I’ve noticed about my city is that people never slow down. Everyone always has plans, plus I know a shocking amount of people who are working weekends as well as during the week. There is hardly any time for people to just slow down and relax. It’s gotten to the point where we have to actively remember to take it easy every once in a while. And that’s fine, as long as we don’t forget to slow down when necessary. Life isn’t a race (I’d be worried if you thought that way, you know what happens in the end right?). You have to learn and find ways to enjoy the ride and not get caught up in the hustle and bustle which often creates a cycle of low stress to high-stress conditions.