Stress at work is unavoidable – in fact some stress is necessary to prompt us to perform at our best. But when we’re stressed because we feel our work demands more from us than we can have to give then workplace stress becomes a real problem.
Given that it’s unavoidable how then can we best manage stress at work, and stop it getting worse? Here are X different strategies to do just that
1 – Start outside of work
Any work on improving your mood or reducing stress needs to be founded on the basis of regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular sleep. Without these three in place whatever actions you take will at best be successful only in the short term. There is no substitute or workaround for exercise, diet, and sleep.
2 – Be realistic about your coping strategies
A common response to stress is to have a drink at the end of the day. Whilst that might be appealing the consequence of disturbed sleep and a thick head the next morning will only be a cause of more stress. All too often the approaches people take to ‘cope’ with stress at work only end up adding to and becoming part of the problem.
3 – Be realistic about what you can achieve
Are you making unreasonable demands on yourself at work? If stress happens when we believe a situation needs more resources than we have it’s wise to check that we’ve understood the situation properly. Are you being a perfectionist? Are you trying to over-deliver? Are you concerned with issues in your circle of concern, rather than your circle of influence?
4 – Set up your day for success
Become active rather than reactive. Think about the tasks and goals you have to achieve that day, that week, and that month. Then at work start to tackle the bigger, longer term projects and chip away at them regularly. Then tackle elements of medium term projects before you look at quick wins, email replies and phone calls.
5 – Minimise interruptions
One reason that people are stressed is that they start their day working on ‘quick’ email replies and phone-calls and then never move past them. Partly that’s because they should leave them until later, and partly it’s because they allow themselves to be interrupted throughout the day.
Being notified that an email has arrived will prompt activity in areas of your brain around unfinished tasks and anxiety. That’s why the natural response is to have ‘a quick look’. Turn your email notifications off while you work on other things and bear in mind that
- it takes 25 minutes to regain your focus after an interruption
on average we’re interrupted at work every 11 minutes
If stress at work, or any other aspect of mental health, concerns you then why not sign up for my monthly newsletter here with three stories every month on the quirky side of psychology and relationships.