Stress might not be something we can simply cut out from our life. However, we do have some freedom in controlling how we let it affect us. Work-related stress is a common culprit wreaking havoc on the mental health of millions. A heavy workload, long working hours, poor working conditions, or an unstable working arrangement can all be serious stressors, but even the normal day-to-day operations are usually more than enough to make you feel tense and drain you out.
Learning to manage work-related stress is an essential life skill that will protect both your physical and mental health in the long term. While everyone needs to find their own strategies that work for them, there are some tried and tested methods that will help you relax and gather energy for the day ahead. Here are a few ways to handle work-related stress.
Identify your stressors
The first step to managing stress at your workplace is finding what is causing it. It’s a good idea to keep track of your feelings for a period of time to identify your main stressors as well as how you respond to these stressful situations. Were those responses effective in dealing with the situation? How did you feel afterward? Once you put it all to paper it will be easier to identify patterns of ineffective stress management strategies and take steps to change them. Having a clear picture of your workplace stressors will also allow you to bring this topic up with your supervisor in case you cannot amend the situation yourself.
What do you do after a particularly stressful situation, such as a meeting? When your pulse and breathing are quickened, practicing deep breathing exercises in order to calm down is a good strategy. Deep breaths signal your body that it’s time to relax, so it’s a scientifically proven method. Look up different breathing exercises and memorize the steps. When you get back to your office after a stressful meeting, sit down comfortably and practice it for a few minutes. Your heart rate will slow down and you’ll be able to think with a clear head. If you have the option, you should also take a short walk outside.
When you analyzed your stressors, you might have found that a portion of your stress originates from yourself. Self-imposed stress in the form of procrastination and poor time management is quite common in the workplace. However, it is causing you more grief than it is worth. Self-imposed stress is one of the few things you have control of so identify and deal with your poor work strategies. If you tend to get lost among tasks, implement to-do lists that will keep track of what needs to be done the next day instead of you. You should also learn the art of prioritizing important tasks – getting them done right away instead of procrastinating on them will save you from a lot of stress.
Set clear boundaries
Being available 24/7 is a surefire way to stress yourself out. A healthy work-life balance should not be a luxury, so establish clear boundaries between your time at work and your private life. During your free time, try not to deal with work tasks and don’t keep checking your work mail. Also, you shouldn’t feel obliged to sacrifice all your free time for work. It’s okay to say no to favors that overstep your boundaries and give you additional stress during your personal time when you should be relaxing.
Let off some steam
When you get off work tense and tired, the only thing you want to do is probably crashing into your bed. However, there are better ways to relieve stress and improve one’s mental health than lounging and binge-watching Netflix. Exercise is certainly one of the best strategies out there. Incorporating some physical activity into your daily routine might feel like a drag in the beginning, but soon, you will find that it’s an invaluable stress management tool. Put on your favorite music and sweat out all the negativity that accumulated throughout the day.
Ensure restful sleep
Getting enough sleep is paramount for one’s health. However, it’s easier said than done. Stress can disturb your sleep in several ways, which will result in even more stress the following day. If you are having sleep troubles, it is recommended you sort them out. For instance, if you often wake up with head, jaw, or neck pain, it is possible that you are clenching your teeth in your sleep. Combat this problem by looking up custom-made mouth guards and ensure your mornings are fresh. If, on the other hand, you are having problems falling asleep, scrutinize your bedtime habits that may be causing this. If you tend to stare at your phone before bed, it is likely a culprit.
We just mentioned the negative effect of looking at your phone screen shortly before bed. Blue light-emitting screens are indeed guilty of disturbing your circadian rhythm and making it difficult for you to fall asleep. What you gain from scrolling through social media before bed is not too constructive either. However, it’s not only your nighttime browsing habit that is inhibiting your ability to relax. The ubiquitous presence of technology all around us is also to blame. The effects of technology on mental health have been studied a lot and it is undeniable that there is both a positive and a negative side to it. Even if you cannot go on a complete digital detox, be sure to turn your notifications off when you’re trying to relax at least.
Stress is one of the most dangerous health risks in this day and age, but everyone would agree that it’s impossible to completely eliminate it from your life. Since you cannot just look for another workplace when things get tough, developing effective stress management strategies is paramount. Hopefully, these tips will help you out.