How to Deal With Stress at Work: Top 10 Methods
In the last 10 years, work-related stress has been on the rise. In 2021 alone, 822,000 people admitted to feeling some form of work-related stress, depression, and/or anxiety. Even after the pandemic, which had an understandably negative impact on the mental well-being of most workers, this is an unfortunate number of sufferers.
Every job will have its stressors; even those who love what they do feel pressure from time to time. So, with that in mind, it is more important to face these issues head-on and, when they are within our control, remedy them. But in order to deal with stress at work, it is first important to understand what is causing it, and then work to find solutions or coping mechanisms to neutralise it properly.
If ever stress at work becomes too hard to combat yourself, we urge you to turn to your line manager, Human Resources representative, or even a trusted loved one, for proper comfort and support. Do not suffer alone.
Common Causes of Stress at Work
Many things can contribute to a person's sense of stress at work, depending on their job and individual mental capacity, but below are the most common causes of stress in the workplace:
- Lack of clarity around performance expectations
- Physical and mental discomfort
- Tough or relentless workloads
- Below average salaries
- No sense of control over the job
- Limited opportunities to grow or advance
No two stressors will be cured in the same way, so once you have identified your pain point/s at work, you can then move on to finding the right way to handle it/them effectively.
Top 10 Ways to Deal With Stress at Work
1. Turn to the People Around You
First on our list, and one of the best ways to handle stress at work is to form authentic bonds with your colleagues. Friendship is not an exact science, so there is no guarantee you will connect with the people in your team – but, that said, as you spend more time working together you may begin to form a connection.
Friends at work not only give us an outlet for stress, but also a support network that we can turn to in times of need. Stress and unhappiness only deepen when facing it alone, so developing these bonds early on can help in the long run by giving you a place to share a laugh or talk through a problem in search of a solution.
2. Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Loss of control is a major stress trigger, so taking the reins, where you can, will go a long way to relieving the pressure. Thinking you are powerless against every force of change around you will only worsen the tension. You can regain a sense of control in a number of ways, including a dedicated exercise regime, a proper before-bed and sleep schedule, and setting aside time for personal hobbies.
Feeling a sense of control over your own life and schedule can go a long way in helping to deal with stress at work, especially if your day-to-day is often run by someone else. Remember that you and your time belong to you and, even if it does not feel like it, the controls are yours.
3. Avoid Perfectionism
It can be too easy to tie your self-worth to your output at work – and this can be a very difficult habit to break, but it is one that is the root of most stress in the workplace. The reality is, no one can do everything perfectly or by themselves, so it is important to remember to aim for your best, accept and learn from any downfalls, and praise yourself for what you do achieve.
Seeking perfection at work is a cycle that will not be undone in just one day, but if you dedicate yourself to a calmer outlook and practice acceptance in the face of imperfection, you will be making a solid start down the road to recovery.
4. Establish Healthy Boundaries
If you want to ward against stressors in the long term, it is vital that you set appropriate boundaries at work. These days especially, due to the pull of technology, we feel we must be present and available 24/7 – if this sounds like you, it is crucial that you make a conscious effort to leave work at work. A clear divide between work and life is essential to preventing high stress and burnout.
5. Reclaim Your Time
If you are feeling stressed at work, seek comfort in the time you spend away from it. Simply not being at work is not enough to truly recharge, you must be intentional with how you structure your downtime to really reap the rejuvenating benefits. This extends to taking adequate lunch breaks at work, not skipping them or eating at your desk, but getting up and choosing to be active or find a change of scene.
It can be tempting to sink into your phone at the end of a long day in order to unwind, but that can actually do the opposite. It is better to choose healthier alternatives, such as creative hobbies, experimental cooking, or reading a good book. Whatever you choose to do, try to dedicate at least two days a week to ‘you time’.
6. Develop Healthy Habits Outside of Work
On a similar thread to reclaiming time in your personal life, we also recommend working to build good habits outside of work too, that will replenish your energy reserves, give you a sense of control, and help you to feel fresher the next time you are back in the office. You could try delving into new interests and learn skills that do not directly relate to your job – this will broaden the same loop that your brain has been going through day in, day out. This is especially relevant if you are someone who works from home.
How you start the day can have a positive or negative impact on the overall stress levels of the day, and it all depends on your routine and habits. With a proper schedule laid out and time spent making sure you are getting the nutrition your body needs first thing, you can set up for a much easier day. Then, when the work day is done, tidy up your desk and make a priority list of tasks for the next day – this way, when you get home, you can avoid thinking about work.
7. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Your stress might be caused by feeling overwhelmed at work, or perhaps you are burned out from going too hard for too long. Either way, make sure you are not doing too much at once. This can have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of your output and make the task take longer than it needs to – which will only add to the tension.
Keep your workspace clean and decluttered, and hone your schedule with efficiency in mind. Tackle heavy-duty tasks first thing and the easier, less important ones for the afternoon slump. Eventually, you will find balance in the jobs you are taking on and completing, and that cool and steady pace will steer you clear of unnecessary stress in the future.
8. Keep Your Body as Active as Your Mind
Your stress levels might be dependent on lack of activity. Office life especially favours a sedentary lifestyle, which in the long term can negatively impact your health and make you more stressed at work.
If you are in a position to do so, request walking meetings to get some steps in throughout the day. When lunchtime comes, get up from your desk and stretch your legs and rest your eyes. Then outside of work – in the mornings or evenings, whichever works best for you – try to do some light exercise to loosen up and destress; activities like running, climbing, swimming, or just lightweight work. Whatever you can manage will help you to properly deal with stress.
9. Seek Out Resources in the Workplace
You should have access to mental health resources provided by your company, and there is no shame in using them – especially when dealing with chronic stress. We of course recommend seeking medical advice from your GP first, but if there is support available in the workplace that you can utilise as well, it can only help.
If there are no counselling programmes or specific well-being initiatives in place to help you deal with stressful situations at work, you can instead try talking to your manager or Human Resources. Do not feel you are burdening them, your well-being should be important to them, as it directly correlates to your productivity. Make a list of the main stressors in your job and then organise a meeting to discuss them and, hopefully, find solutions. Perhaps your workload can be altered, or you can move into a new department, or maybe you can be granted more time working from home in order to take a break from the over-stimulation of the office.
10. Accept What You Cannot Change
Some things are simply out of your control – and there is nothing you can do to change that. When we are focussing all our energy on pushing back on inevitable change, we can work ourselves up and add to the stress.
Sometimes, when dealing with stress at work, the best thing you can do is take a deep breath and accept the things and situations you cannot change, whilst focussing on what you can. Remember what we said about regaining control? That is exactly what you can do here. Let it all wash over you and hold tight to your own reins. You can see yourself through this.
Manage Stress at Work and Regain Control
There are many ways to deal with stress at work, and once you have identified the causes you can move on to pairing it with the right solution. Stress is something that, if left untreated, can slowly eat away at the edges of your life. It can be a quiet and sinister beast. If you have tried everything you can think of to handle it, contacting a healthcare professional may be the best course of action.
Here at Halkin, we work to take the stress out of managing your own business address. If you are a business owner looking for bespoke office space in a sought-after location, contact us today to find out how we can help.