Americans work more hours than those in every other country and this translates into stress. Heavy workloads, tight deadlines and concerns about job security pile on even more, leaving people feeling burned out and emotionally drained. There are many easy and positive actions you can take to reduce workplace stress and live a healthier and more productive lifestyle.
Find a Mentor
A mentor is a great asset on so many levels, but studies show an unexpected side effect. Employees with mentors have reduced levels of burnout as well as lower levels of emotional and cognitive fatigue. Those who are mentored also gain a greater sense of self-confidence. Select a mentor who is willing to support the growth of your career and can help you identify short and long-term goals to achieve them. The mentor becomes your sounding board and can guide you through the rough patches so you are not entirely alone. This process is great for stress reduction and will support both your health and your career.
Your job is stressful enough so don’t sabotage yourself by making it harder than necessary. Messy workspaces, lack of schedule, and no filing system are recipes for disaster so you need to structure your space, time and information in a way that it supports your work rather than hinders it. Unfortunately, there is no one answer for how to accomplish this because a system that works great for one person isn’t right for someone else. There are many apps and digital tools available to help keep you on track as well as a multitude of paper-based options so you can find the best system for you.
Everyone multitasks and some people, such as air traffic controllers and emergency room personnel, must be able to do this well because people’s lives literally depend on it. For the rest of us, multitasking is a something we do out of necessity or distraction with less than stellar results. A study conducted by a University of Michigan psychology professor found a direct correlation between multitasking and stress. The more important the jobs being multitasked the higher the stress, but even minor multitasking actions can increase stress, especially if it is a long-term habit. So, put distractions aside and focus solely on the task in front of you. It will be completed faster and at a higher quality than if you were multitasking, and you can move on to the next item on your to-do list without the added stress.
Take a Deep Breath
This recommendation is both literal and figurative. Taking deep breaths will calm your body and release tension, which helps to lower stress levels. From a more figurative perspective, taking a deep breath will help you respond to a situation rather than react. A response is about being in control whereas reaction is giving over control to the situation. Sometimes reactions are necessary, especially in emergencies. However, taking a literal or figurative breath and responding to the challenge in front of you will allow you to think more clearly and find solutions that might not be immediately obvious. This will reduce your stress and make you a star in the workplace.
Be Good Enough
Most people want to do their best, and that is great. The problem is when doing your best translates into being a perfectionist. True perfectionists tend to see everything with a critical eye and set unrealistic standards. They view something as either perfect or bad, with nothing in between. These tendencies lead to procrastination, defensiveness and low self-esteem. The result is that most perfectionists tend to accomplish less and have higher stress than others, even those how are consistently high achievers. If you have these tendencies remember that not every task has to be performed to the same high standard, so accept good enough when appropriate. The odds are that your “good enough” will be better than someone else’s best efforts to complete the task and move on.
Consider a Side Gig
For some people, workplace stress is grounded in the fact that they don’t enjoy their work or it doesn’t pay well enough to cover the bills. Having a freelance job on the side can become that creative outlet, fill a financial void or even be the building block for starting your own company. There are many great resources for finding the work you want to do during the times you have available, such as freelance my way. Sites like this give you the freedom to pick the projects that you want and set the schedule you need to complete them. So, if you have the passion and drive, consider freelancing to reduce your workplace stress.
Whether you work part time, full time or overtime, workplace stress is real and it has a negative impact on your health and overall wellbeing. Take a walk, be good enough, or take a side gig to lower that stress and be more productive.