How to Deal with Stress at Work
Unfortunately, stress is a part of everyday life. Sometimes it can be beneficial and motivating, but when stress builds up, it can get overwhelming and have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing. Work, relationships and finances are some of the biggest causes of stress, however, recognising the signs and putting measures in place to reduce stress can help to stop these feelings from spiralling out of control.
When it comes to how to deal with stress at work, there are a number of different steps you can take to alleviate some of the pressure. From speaking to your manager to ensuring you’re planning in regular breaks, these are some of the best ways to reduce your cortisol and get you feeling a little more like yourself again.
What are Some of the Causes of Stress at Work?
If you’re looking to reduce your stress levels at work, it’s important to identify what some of the primary causes are. Although these triggers may vary from person to person, some of the most common ones include:
Conflicts with colleagues
Lack of support
Lack of autonomy
Bullying, discrimination or harassment
Some of these stress triggers can slowly sneak up on you until you’re feeling burnt out. It’s important that you’re able to recognise the signs and symptoms in order to put steps in place should you begin to suffer from them.
What are the Signs of Stress at Work?
Everyone manages stress differently, so the signs and symptoms of stress in the workplace can present themselves in various ways from person to person. It’s incredibly important to spot the signs early to manage them effectively and put processes in place to prevent it from becoming uncontrollable in the future.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from stress at work:
Withdrawal from your work
Lack of motivation
Loss of confidence
Inability to concentrate on tasks
Anxiety and irritability
Frequent nausea or digestive issues
The sooner you notice any symptoms of stress, the more quickly you can put processes in place to prevent it from becoming unmanageable.
Tips for Managing Stress at Work
Once you’ve identified the causes of your work-related stress, the next step is to learn how to manage it so that you can get back to feeling like your usual self.
Working in an office with lots of different people can inevitably lead to the occasional conflict. From oversharing your political or religious views, to gossiping about colleagues - there are a number of different ways in which office conflicts can occur, which can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.
In order to minimise stress in the workplace, it’s important to resolve any conflicts you may have with your colleagues. Whether you simply avoid taking part in office gossip, or use a mediator to resolve any long-standing disagreements between you and a colleague, it’s an important step to take to minimise stress at work.
Improve Your Organisation
Quite often, stress can arise due to poor time management. Whether this leads to overworking, forgetting important tasks, or simply feeling out of control - a lack of organisation can have a huge impact on stress.
To combat this, you need to take back control. From writing a to-do list for the next day before you leave work each evening, to ensuring you are correctly prioritising your workload - improving your organisation skills can go a long way towards reducing your stress levels.
Take Regular Breaks
With an ever-growing workload, you might be tempted to start work early, finish late and plough on through your lunch break, however, this may actually be counterproductive - especially when it comes to stress.
Studies have shown that taking ‘microbreaks’ throughout the day can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing and performance. From simply taking a couple of minutes out to talk to the person next to you, to having a quick scroll through Twitter - what many may see as ‘slacking off’ may make you perform better in the long run.
Maintain a Good Work-Life Balance
A poor work-life balance can lead to increased feelings of stress. However, as stress can result in decreased productivity, it may mean you end up working longer hours to catch up, leaving less time for the activities you enjoy, thus further increasing stress levels. It’s a vicious cycle.
To help prevent stress in the workplace, it’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance in the first place. From trying to leave the office on time each day, to ensuring that you use your annual leave - making time for the activities you enjoy and taking a little break from work will help to prevent those feelings of stress from creeping up on you.
Ask for Support
When it comes to preventing or alleviating stress in the workplace, one of the best things you can do is seek support from your manager or business partner.
You should never be afraid of asking for help, as everyone needs assistance from time to time, but discussing your workload or work-related issues with your manager can really help to ease some of the pressure.
However, if you don’t feel like you can speak to your manager, you may be able to get support from your HR department or you could even ask another colleague - even just a coffee break may help to alleviate some feelings of stress.
How to Help Employees Manage Stress
As an employer, it’s important to ensure you’re able to recognise the signs of stress in the workplace in order to offer support to those who may need it.
Some of the best ways to help employees to manage stress include:
Encourage employees to take regular breaks and annual leave
Arrange wellness activities during work time, such as yoga, walking or subsidised gym memberships
Evaluate the office environment to see if it could be improved
Provide staff with more flexible working hours
Create breakout areas within the office where people can get on with work without distractions
Recognise and reward hard work
Be mindful of the culture being promoted and don’t encourage or normalise working overtime
Whether you simply introduce elements of biophilic design into your office, or put processes in place to create a more wellness-focused work environment, it’s important to ensure you’re taking steps to reduce any stress triggers for your employees as much as possible.
Simply taking some of these small steps can make a huge difference in helping to tackle stress and build resilience so you can get back to feeling more like yourself again.