Are you tired and moody? Do you struggle to sleep or feel you have lost the energy to tackle your work with enthusiasm?
Everyday stress is quite normal and something we all experience, but unfortunately it is a double edged sword. Stress makes us uncomfortable enough so that we feel driven to action to improve an unwanted situation or circumstances. But, the unfortunate flip-side of stress is the negative impact continuous stress can have on your mind, body and relationships.
Too much stress will eventually run you down, make you emotionally unstable and weaken your physical strength. It has been proven that chronic stress is the cause of most chronic diseases and it is linked to a myriad of other mental issues like anxiety and depression.
Are you ready to face your stressors and find ways to manage them better?
The continuous and correct application of stress management strategies can not only minimise the impact of stress on your current life, it will also help you build resilience to better cope with bigger and tougher future challenges. The better you become at managing stress at work, the more productive you’ll be and it will also have a positive impact on your relationships.
Let’s see what you can do in response to stress in the workplace.
The Definition of Stress
It can be tricky to define stress as the only way we can see it is through its symptoms or the effects it has on us. Some people experience butterflies in their stomachs while others get more emotional. Stress can eventually cause us to lose control and we all know how it feels to be overwhelmed.
Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. Stress is your body's response to anything that requires attention or action.
Stress is thus part and parcel of modern life. There are a wide variety of factors that determine the levels of stress we experience in every situation. A new job might be a positive high for some, while the same situation evokes a response of panic or anxiety in others.
In psychology and clinical environments stress is categorised into 3 types:
- Chronic stress is ongoing and could lead to health problems like high blood pressure and depression
- Acute stress is short term, part of daily life and can be positive or distressing
- Episodic acute stress is acute stress for longer periods, creating a stressful daily life
Luckily, you are not left at the mercy of stress and how you respond to it will determine whether it impacts your overall well-being in a positive or negative way.
The Signs of Stress
Our mental constructs, emotional intelligence, physical health, personalities and backgrounds are all unique and therefore we approach and manage stress in different ways. In the same way, stress can affect us all in different ways and it is important for you to notice the signs of stress before it causes bigger problems.
Here are some of the red flags you can look out for to see whether you are experiencing chronic stress:
- Physical Signs – Changes in your appetite, menstrual cycle and weight could be contributed to chronic stress. Ongoing stress can lead to high blood pressure, frequent colds or infections, challenges to sleep well and a drop in libido.
- Psychological Signs – Struggling to focus and concentrate can be a sign of stress. Stressed people sometimes become forgetful and experience increased levels of anxiety.
- Behavioural Signs – Losing the energy to do the things you’ve always loved might be a sign that you are depressed. Many stressed people use alcohol, medication or smoking to help them cope, but this is only temporary and could lead to greater stress levels later.
- Emotional Signs – Being frustrated, angry, touchy, moody or emotionally inaccessible are all signs of ongoing stress.
Stress can compromise your immune system, lead to a lack of energy and even slow down your metabolism and make you fat. The list of symptoms related to negative stress is endless and therefore the key is to know yourself, your own body and its limits.
The Management of Stress
The signs above might confirm something you’ve known for a while, that you are far too stressed out.
The field of psychology and research have luckily unlocked a myriad of stress management strategies and techniques you can use in response to stress.
Stress management, as the name implies, allows people to apply management techniques and strategies to their lives to reduce the impact of stress. It is frequently mentioned in therapy or psychology and sounds very complicated, but it's actually quite simple and forms a fundamental part of how we learn to cope with the stress in our daily lives.
In simple terms, these are things you can do to manage stress and bring more relaxation into your life.
Managing stress also doesn’t have to be a reactive way of coping. Even less-stressed people can include some of these tactics and techniques into their lives to minimise the pressure they experience in daily work life.
Managing Stress at Work
Some companies and bosses are incredibly demanding. Stress, as we’ve learned, is an important aspect of growth as it pushes us to better, which is why many good leaders use this to create better performing teams. This tactic only works if stress is experienced in short bursts, with enough time to recover and relax.
Learning the difference between an uncomfortable growth phase at work and ongoing, chronic stress is fundamental if you want to become better at managing your stress. Speaking to your manager about ongoing stress is important, especially if you notice that your health and performance start to suffer. Here are a couple of skills and tips for managing stress in and around the office.
Some people are great at being organised, while others need to make a bit more effort to get there. Being organised will not only ensure you make the most of your time at work, it will also guarantee you have a more relaxed and decluttered work space. Prepare for each meeting as this will not only make you appear more professional, but you will also find it easier to walk into a meeting more relaxed and with confidence.
Set Your Day Up for Success
Starting your day early, planning it and setting your intentions can make all the difference in how you experience it. In The 5am Club, author Robin Sharma, explains through a fictitious story how highly successful people use the first hour of each day for personal growth. You want to make a commitment to give yourself that time daily, because small changes might have a significant impact in the long run.
Journal every morning to better track your emotions, mental patterns and stressors. The morning session is all about you, so make it work for you. It could be a bit of a spiritual practice, with a cup of tea and journalling, or purely work-related planning for the first 30 minutes at the office each day.
You will also notice that if you use this time productively, it will place you in a positive mindset and help you prepare for your day, a much more empowered approach than rushing to get to work and coping with whatever is being thrown your way.
Many employees burn-out because they try and be everything for everyone. You need to know what your role and responsibilities are. Having open and clear communication with your manager and team members can make all the difference and you should feel comfortable to ask if you are uncertain. Always ask as many questions as you want at the beginning of a new task as this could prevent confusion and double work or job burnout from creeping in.
Open communication will also allow you to discuss and understand what the job needs, while expressing your needs. This way you can communicate and set boundaries around your personal time to ensure you have a good work-life balance.
Avoid Conflict and Gossip
Try and avoid any unnecessary conflict in the workplace. Fights and quibbles can make work an unpleasant place for you to return to and it will take its toll on your emotional and physical health. Sometimes it is better to keep your opinion to yourself and stay away from contentious topics like politics and your religious views. Work politics is part of work, but you always choose whether a discussion or issue warrants your time and energy.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Forget About Multitasking
Multitasking can help you do a lot of things at the same time, but it can leave your head spinning while potentially having a negative effect on the quality of your work. Do proper planning, allocate specific time for emails and calls, and try to place your undivided focus on the specific task you are busy with. You might experience a new level or productivity and efficiency in your work.
Use Your Support System
Many companies realised just how important their workforce is and for that reason they want healthy and happy employees. Bigger companies started to include chill areas, plan social activities for staff or run ongoing wellness schemes to try and assist their employees. Speak to your manager if you struggle to get things done during the day and also speak to friends and people you can trust if you feel you need an outside opinion.
Discussing courses or upskilling with your manager to help you cope can also be useful. A great time management course is one of the best to help employees classify and tackle tasks according to their importance and urgency.
Take A Break
Whether you spend 10 minutes in the sun during a tea break or take your lunch away from the office, taking a break from a stressful environment can refuel your tank and make you feel better. It is also important to take leave every now and then and ensure you have no contact with the office so that you can completely relax and let go.
Get Home in a Good Mood
Driving home can be another stressor in life. Listen to calming music and find a way to disconnect from work thoughts and stressors. Many people take their work home with them and this is not conducive to a healthy and balanced life. Going for a walk, run or to gym after work is another way to disconnect from work and switch to relax mode.
Work can be stressful at times, but it should still be something that you enjoy and even though it challenges you to grow, something you want to return to. There are many different tips and techniques to help you relax more while you manage your stress.
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