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Workplace Stress Management: 7 Ways to Manage Stress at Work
January 6, 2017 by
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Workplace Stress Management: 7 Ways to Manage Stress at Work

Workplace Stress Management: Understanding Work Stress, It’s Effects and Causes, and How to Handle it. Our Guide will Help You Handle Work Stress in a More Effective Way So that You can Live a Comfortable Working Life.

Let’s Start…

Work is stressful sometimes. There’s no getting around that simple fact. Responsibilities, deadlines, financial pressures and difficult collages or customers can leave anyone feeling exhausted and drained at the end of the day. Stress in the workplace is a big issue for Australians today, with as many as 45% of us reporting feeling stressed at work. Given the amount of time you spend at work, making sure you can handle the pressures of your role effectively is essential for a healthy state of mind. You can help yourself by following our workplace stress management guide:

What Causes Stress in the Workplace?

Stress can seem to be part of the culture in some organisations. Some offices exist in a constant state of urgency, moving from one rushed deadline to the next as unrealistic expectations and diminishing resources lead to staff pulling longer and longer shifts and taking on more and more responsibilities. While the extra pressure of an imminent deadline can give you the drive and motivation to get things done, existing in a constant state of overdrive quickly leads to burnout and high stress levels.

It’s not just the pressure of excessive workloads or tight deadlines that can lead to stress. Any of the following factors can contribute to an unhappy work life:

  • Low or unfair salaries
  • No opportunity for growth or career development
  • Poor support structures
  • Work that is boring or not challenging
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lack of control over decisions
  • Difficult interactions with customers or colleagues

Why You Need to Deal With Stress at Work

Stress produces chemical changes in the brain as part of the body’s fight or flight reaction to potential threats. These effects might give you a boost in energy and focus in the short term, but over long periods of time work place stress can seriously affect your work performance. Reduced attention and memory, inability to think straight and a reduced capacity to deal with difficult individuals are just a few of the consequences of stress which can seriously affect your day to day duties.

These biological changes don’t go away once you sign out of work for the day, and neither do the effects of stress. Taking stress home with you can result in less energy to deal with the problems of home and family, as well as making you more irritable and snappy with your loved ones.

Long-term stress has a catalogue of negative health consequences, from heart problems to increased illness, weight gain and reduced sex drive. Mental illnesses like depression and like anxiety often go hand in hand with stressful work environments as the constant worry and pressure begins to wear you down and interfere with your ability to think positively about yourself.

A stressed out workforce can be catastrophic for businesses. Putting high demands and constant pressure on employees has serious financial consequences for employers in the form of higher staff turnover, increased absence due to sickness and lower work performance. Compensation claims against employers stemming from stress-related illness costs Australian businesses a staggering $10 billion per year.

7 Suggestions for Workplace Stress Management

Knowing how to deal with stress in the workplace is a vital skill, both for your work performance and for your emotional and physical wellbeing. Here are some top strategies for managing stress in the workplace that you can apply straight away:

1. Develop Coping Strategies
2. Clear Your Mind
3. Cut Down on Caffeine
4. Change Your Reaction
5. Avoid Negativity
6. Get Your Day off to the Right Start
7. Set Clear Boundaries

You can read more about our stress management tips in the workplace below:

1. Develop Coping Strategies

Learning to alleviate stress and relax your body and mind in a busy work environment can be a great way of nipping the onset of stress in the bud. Taking a quick step back and calming yourself through simple breathing exercises, mind meditation or muscle relaxing stretches and techniques can help you respond to challenges in a more measured and calm way.

2. Clear Your Mind

Popping outside to get some fresh air or a brisk walk during your lunch break can really help sharpen your mind and fight the overwhelming sense of panic that stress can bring. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which actively work against feelings of stress and worry, raising your mood and energy.

3. Cut Down on Caffeine

You may not want to hear this, but those six cups of coffee you have on a morning probably aren’t doing your stress levels any favours. You’re probably well aware of the energy boosting effects of caffeine. What you probably don’t know is that caffeine affects the body in almost exactly the same way that that stress does.

Caffeine triggers the release of certain chemicals and hormones into the brain. Among these are cortisol- the so called “stress hormone” which is responsible for many of the long-term negative effects of stress. Caffeine also increases levels of adrenaline and dopamine, which give you that boost to your energy and mood but leave you with a low afterwards that can leave you more susceptible to stress. If you struggle with energy, a healthy diet and enough sleep are a good remedy. Excessive coffee consumption is not.

4. Change Your Reaction

The workplace can undoubtedly be a stressful place, but sometimes this isn’t helped by the way you view and talk about your job. You may not be able to control everything about your role but you can control how you respond to it- letting sudden changes or setbacks derail you or taking them in your stride.

Next time you’re given a seemingly impossible deadline or menial task to complete, instead of instantly panicking and bemoaning how unfair the situation is, try calmly telling yourself “I can do this” and just getting stuck into it. The way you talk to yourself and others about your job affects how you think about it, which has a huge impact on your ability to do it. Try to moderate your reaction to bad things happening and approach your work with a positive view. This will really help keep stress out of your mind, which will make you far better at your role in the long run as well as increasing your job satisfaction.

5. Avoid Negativity

It’s tempting to focus on the negative and embrace the fact that you are horrendously overworked, especially if the rest of the office is moaning. But as mentioned above, the way you perceive things has a big impact on how they affect you. Don’t join in this self-defeating habit and instead be the voice of calm and positivity in your office- your colleagues will thank you for it.

6. Get Your Day off to the Right Start

If you leave waking up till the last minute then you’re going to be rushed and stressed from the moment your day begins. An extra twenty minutes of sleep won’t have much effect on your energy. But having a proper breakfast and arriving at work on time without a huge panic will get you in the right frame of mind to work and set you up for success throughout the day.

7. Set Clear Boundaries

Today’s constantly connected, constantly switched on world can make it hard for you to unwind from work at the end of the day. There’s always that feeling that you could be doing something or that your work is never truly finished.

Putting proper work-life boundaries in place is vital to keeping stress at bay. Work is work, and home is home. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into work issues when you’re at home as you need the time to relax and focus on your family life. Freeing yourself from the need to constantly check your emails or instantly respond to issues is a great feeling, and helps you really seize control of your personal time, giving you more energy and focus for when you’re at work.

Conclusion

Looking after yourself at work is serious business. Your work environment is where you spend a huge proportion of your time, so learning to see it positively and developing tools to deal with stress in the workplace will make your life much happier.

Remember that it is your employer’s responsibility to make sure your working environment is not making you ill due to stress, so talk to a manager if you feel that stress is seriously affecting your health or work performance. Seeking out counselling or life coaching can also give you a sympathetic ear and exert guidance on managing the stress in your work life.

When to Look for Professional Help to Manage Workplace Stress

If you feel like work stress is ruining your ability to concentrate and is affecting your performance, or if your home life is suffering as a result of a difficult work environment, expert help is available. Stress management counselling can help you develop coping strategies and relaxation techniques, while changing the thoughts and behaviours that are contributing to your stress levels. Contact Angus Munro Psychology today and let our team of experts help you live a life free of workplace stress.

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