How to Reduce Stress at Work

by Brad Fein
Stress at Work

Work, work, work. It can feel like a never-ending rat race to go through the same old motions over and over. Wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat until the weekend. At work, we face constant interruptions, distractions, long hours, as well as the fear of being laid-off. Understandably, the rate of people stressed at work is high as it is…and it’s only getting higher.

Is there an answer to the overwhelming stress? It can be hard to keep focus so you can get all of your work tasks done by the end of the day. Especially if energy levels are running low, meeting deadlines can become tough & demanding. Stress doesn’t only affect our mental health, but our physical health as well. 

How to Tell if You’re Stressed at Work

It’s normal to feel a little bit of stress at work. There’s such a thing as good stress, which is necessary for individual breakthroughs and company growth. This is known as eustress, the kind of stress that’s motivating & productive. However, when stress is distress, the reactions may be debilitating. Some causes of distress in the workplace include:

  • The fear of being laid off
  • Rising performance expectations
  • Working overtime to meet deadlines & earn additional income
  • The pressure to consistently work optimally

When stress levels become too high, it can take a serious toll on your mental & physical well being. Here are the symptoms of extreme stress at work:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Headache & muscle tension
  • Stomach problems
  • Decreased libido
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol

These are all signs that stress at work is becoming too much to handle. If this is the case for you, then you should follow our methods to help shake off the stress and get back to work in a positive mood.

Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

Identify Stressors

Keep track of your daily tasks & write it all down in a diary for a week or so. Make sure to note down which situations caused the most stress as well as your response. Write down the way you felt, what you thought, and what was going on around you. Was someone else involved? Did you act inappropriately? Do you have a method to help calm yourself down?

These questions are all important to figure out your specific pattern of stress and reaction. With this method, we’re focusing on finding out what stresses you out, how you react, and where you can improve your response.

Get Enough Sleep

Are you waking up on the wrong side of the bed regularly? Then you need to change your sleep habits. Getting enough sleep can be hard when your stressed out, especially because it can be the cause of insomnia. But when you don’t get enough sleep, your body & mood react negatively to it.

To help combat sleep problems and stick to a sleep schedule, make sure you follow these rules:

  • Sleep 7-9 hours every night consistently to get your body used to the sleeping widow.
  • Commit to a schedule by getting into bed at the same time every night. Doing this will help your body regulate its sleeping schedule until eventually you are falling asleep quickly and waking up at the same time daily without needing an alarm clock. This may mean laying in bed when you’re not feeling tired a few nights in a row, but it will all be worth it down the line.
  • Don’t sleep in on the weekends. Doing so will throw off your entire sleep schedule, which will end up throwing off your mood.
  • Put away all tech before you sleep. Keeping the TV on, chilling on a computer, or scrolling through your phone before sleeping makes it hard to go to sleep on a schedule.
  • If you need to, take a 20-minute nap – and stick to it. Once 20 minutes is up, get up and occupy yourself.

Exercise Regularly

If you exercise but not on a schedule, then consider making a regular exercise routine to help boost your endorphins. Aerobic exercise is known to help reduce stress naturally and promote a positive attitude on life. Even a study back in 1999 shows that exercise was just as effective, if not more effective at curing depression than antidepressants were.

Go for 30 minutes of exercise daily to get the ball rolling. This can be in the form of taking neighborhood walks, jogs, at the gym, and even at home. Many have this idea that you can’t do proper exercise at home without weights, which is not the case. There are plenty of body-weight exercises you can do at home that help promote fat loss, which will overall improve your self-confidence.

Eat Healthy Foods

Exercise and eating healthy foods go hand in hand. By putting good food into your body, you are more likely to put out good feelings and a good attitude. Stress eating is a killer way to ruin this. It’s easy to turn to salty or sweet junk food when we’re upset, which turns into a vicious cycle of you eating whenever you’re stressed out to help cope with your emotions.

Instead of eating when you’re stressed, take a deep breath and meditate instead. When you do eat, make sure to eat whole wheat breads & grains, high fiber fruits & vegetables, superfoods (blueberries, kale, chia seeds, etc.), and lean proteins such as chicken & salmon.

Form & Maintain Healthy Relationships at Work

Having healthy relationships at work can help a lot in easing the stress you’re dealing with. Instead of spending time looking at social media during your breaks, chat it up with a coworker. Spend some (appropriate) time with coworkers outside of work. Go out for lunch or dinner, catch a  live performance, or even play video games. Remember, this is your coworker, so you want to keep the friendship personal as well as professional.

Stay Organized

Sometimes your emotions can get the best of you. When that happens, it can be hard to keep things together. Help manage your stress by organizing & prioritizing. Here are some simple steps to do it:

  • Define your goals. When you have clear goals, it will be easier to figure out what you need to do to reach them. Always make sure you’re doing something every day to get closer to your goals.
  • Use your goals to help set your priorities. If it’s going to help you get closer to your goal, then it’s a priority. If not, then it’s not a priority. Simple as that.
  • Narrow down your focus on achieving 2 to 3 things that will help bring you closer to your goals each week. Allow yourself time to focus on the most important tasks that will have the most impact on how close you get to your goals.
  • Make a to-do list with deadlines. It’s extremely simple to do, but you have to stick to it. You’ve probably made a to-do list before and forgot about it once you took care of the first couple of tasks on your list. Adding deadlines is important to hold yourself accountable rather than pushing things back every time you “forgot” or “didn’t have enough time.”
  • Utilize a calendar to better organize your weeks & months. Don’t feel the need to overflow it and make sure you include breaks so you have some time to relax! You also never know if an emergency comes up and you need to rearrange your schedule. A little bit of flexibility will help ease some stress when something unexpected happens.

Do Away With Bad Habits

Stress can bring about the formation of bad habits. These include desiring perfection, learned helplessness, and negativity. Instead, think about things you’re grateful for. Recognize the small things in life that make you happy, such as things people do for you or even food you like to eat. Understand that nothing will ever be perfect. If you make a mistake, learn from it, and grow. Most of all, don’t let things you can’t control, well, control the way you feel. Instead, focus on what you can control – such as your reaction and how you can deal with a situation.

Underneath it All

When you learn how to put your stress to the side, you can start experiencing more efficiency at work. Our tips may take a little effort on your end, but they are worth every drop of sweat when you’re finally able to get through the workday with a positive attitude.

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