5 Strategies to Manage Stress in the Workplace
Regardless of career path or job, nearly every person has experienced work-related stress at some point.
Even if you are working your dream job or industry, there is still stress associated with work; from deadlines to challenging tasks, some levels of stress at work are healthy and foster personal growth and development.
For some, though, stress at work is all too familiar and impossible to relieve. If you suffer from job stress and have experienced both physical and mental symptoms of high-stress situations, you know how uncomfortable and overwhelming it feels.
Fortunately, there are ways you can combat stress in the workplace and improve your overall health in the process. First, it’s important to understand the significance of workplace stress and how it can start to negatively impact mental and physical health.
What is Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress is unique to each individual and the conditions of the work they are doing. Stress from work is a response to the demands and pressures that an employee is experiencing that are not matched to their knowledge, ability, and how they cope with that.
Work stress can be exacerbated by long hours, deadlines, low salaries, and increasing demands. Workplace stress is often caused by fears of job loss, lack of control, pressure to perform, and unsupportive or inadequate management.
When stress is not treated properly or managed consistently in the workplace, it can lead to burnout. Burnout is a type of work-related stress that can occur when someone feels overwhelmed or unable to cope with the demands of their job.
How to Manage Stress at Work to Avoid Burnout
Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that is caused by prolonged stress. It can lead to feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a decrease in productivity. Burnout is different than stress because it takes longer to materialize, but it can be overwhelming and difficult to manage without support from co-workers and upper management.
Here are some useful ways to manage stress at work to avoid burnout.
1. Be Open With Your Manager
Be as transparent and open as you feel comfortable with your manager about the expectations of your work duties, why you’re feeling overwhelmed, and what you need from them in order to reduce stress at work and feel more supported.
Stress in the workplace can often be pinpointed to the job responsibilities of an employee, what they feel they’re capable of, and their fear of what may happen if they fail.
Reaching out to your supervisor about your mental health may make you uncomfortable. Still, it will give them insight into what makes you feel overwhelmed and how they can help make your job and the work environment more productive and healthy.
Your transparency may also assist management with helping other employees manage stress, improving the mental health and productivity of the company overall.
2. Learn to Properly Manage Stress
Managing stress looks different for everyone because your stressors are unique to your life, your job, relationships, home life, and personal struggles.
There are many useful ways to cope with stress. Keeping a stress diary at work will help to pinpoint the cause of work-related stress. Record your feelings during the day, paying special attention to different environments, people, tasks, and how they make you feel. Your response to these circumstances may
You can practice meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques to help you calm down and fight stress at work or at home. Relaxation techniques also help with controlling your response, which also helps with stress management.
Coping skills are essential to reducing stress levels in your life. They support emotional wellbeing and teach you how to manage stressful situations using stress management techniques that make all the difference.
3. Prioritize Physical Activity & Nutrition
Regular exercise helps to maintain good physical health and to maintain strong mental health as well. Consistent physical exercise promotes overall cognitive function, improves sleep, stabilizes mood, improves self-esteem, and can boost productivity.
Good nutrition also plays a pivotal role in physical and emotional health. A well-balanced diet helps us think clearly and feel more alert. Diet can also improve concentration and attention span, which, in turn, may help employees feel reassured in their abilities in the workplace, reducing job-related stress.
Healthy living makes a huge difference in physical and emotional well-being. It’s also entirely in your control. Make it a point to prioritize daily exercise and adjust your diet to contain plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein.
4. Evaluate Work-Life Balance
For many employees, job stress can be linked directly to their work-life balance, or lack thereof. Encourage employees to evaluate their habits at work and at home to determine if an adjustment can be made to decrease stress.
Professional life and personal life should be two different things — the more they intercept, the higher employee stress will be. Employees must be able to engage in activities with their families and friends outside of work and unplug on the weekends.
Work, hobbies, family, relationships, and health should be viewed as obligations in life that all require equal attention and nurturing. Neglecting particular obligations to spend more time at work can have negative effects on a person’s mental health, just as neglecting family and those important relationships to prioritize hobbies would affect a person’s home life.
If employees are concerned that their job performance, promotion, or pay raise depends on how available they are after work hours are over, the employer or boss may not be supporting the employees’ need for work-life balance.
Work-life balance starts at the top; companies who preach this ideal yet whose upper management works all hours of the day and night are not really supporters of the important balance. It’s a buzz term that’s been used in hiring and recruiting in recent years but should be a foundational element of any employee-focused company’s creed.
5. Seek Social Support
Social support at work is vital for the well-being of employees. As an employee, try making suggestions to management or your direct supervisor on ways to improve and support employees’ mental health.
From team-building activities to stress management training and employee wellness programs, there are many ways your employer can reduce stress. Reduced stress in the workplace actually helps increase productivity, so stress reduction should be in line with the company’s vision.
Additionally, working in a team atmosphere creates a bond between employees in various departments. Social and emotional support is vital when facing stress and can even improve resilience against chronic stress.
Managing Stress at Work for Improved Physical & Mental Health
83% of American workers suffer from work-related stress, and 50% of those workers are less engaged at work because of their failure to relieve stress properly.
Although stress levels are increasing for people all over the world, that does not mean anyone should sweep their work stress under the rug and write it off as a weakness or flaw.
Stress has a direct influence on mental health — continuous or long-term stress can lead to anxiety and depression, along with burnout.
Physically, stress can manifest negatively in your body through high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease, chest pain, headaches, and chronic pain.
Address Burnout and Learn to Cope with Professionals
Stress and burnout can have serious consequences on your health. Both can lead to debilitating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical health problems such as insomnia and heart disease. If you’re struggling to cope with stress, it’s important to seek burnout treatment as soon as possible. As a professional, you might be eligible to take a stress leave for the duration of your treatment.
At Clear Telehealth, our burnout treatment program teaches our clients how to manage stress with a combination of therapy, life skills, mindfulness, and case management. We guide each individual through the steps necessary to deal with workplace stress and burnout so that they can return to work with the tools necessary to be their most productive selves.