Work-related stress has skyrocketed over the past few decades, which is unsurprising. Unfortunately, feeling overworked — and burnt out as a result — has become less of a cause for concern and more of a twisted token of productivity. Managing stress at work is critical to living a balanced life.
Even with the advent of remote jobs, which are supposed to grant more flexibility, work-from-home folks are still far from a calm work setting. Since our environment is only part of the problem, the real question is: are we effectively managing our stress at work?
Apparently, the answer is no. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stressed about their work, and almost half of that percentage have said they “need help in learning how to manage it”.
Although it’s not unusual to feel overburdened at any job, red flags should rise when that stress surpasses the boundaries of an employee’s wellbeing. In this article, we’re going to discuss the most common work stressors while presenting different strategies you can use to cope with them.
Where does work stress come from, and why is it important to keep it at bay?
Those all-nighters you’ve been pulling may bring great results the following day, but they could be detrimental to your health in the long term. Of course, long hours are just one of the innumerable problems that could be happening inside wherever you call your “office”, including:
- Conflict with a boss or coworker. While there’s no way around personal differences and incompatibility, some people make things harder than they have to be. When conflicts get out of hand, that means it’s time to confront them.
- Unexpected modifications, such as restructures and organisational changes. Leaving the old ways can be challenging, especially if the previous state of affairs was initially hard to get a handle on. Change is good, as long as it doesn’t cost your peace of mind.
- High-pressure roles with tight deadlines. The pressure to finish things up quickly while still being demanded a stellar job is excruciating. It’s no wonder deadlines have been named the #1 stressor at work.
- Working remotely (due to COVID-19 restrictions). Screaming kids. Barking dogs. Trouble with online meetings. You’ve replaced your daily commute with the “comfort” of home, but at what cost?
And the list goes on.
If any of the bullets above sound like a normal day at work, you’re not alone. However, that doesn’t mean you need to acquiesce — unless you’re willing to dwell into an endless cycle of exhaustion, anger, a weak immune system, and a high risk of addiction.
For the workaholics who don’t mind the work-related health issues, overwork can also derail your productivity. Ironically, working non-stop can decrease productive work hours. Plus, the effects of whatever you’re doing to stay up too long will eventually retaliate.
What’s more, work-related stress may also affect employees’ family and social life. Working long hours can be beneficial in terms of income, but that could result in less time spent with family and friends. Leisure time shouldn’t be taken for granted, since less socialising is known to contribute to high stress levels.
Most of the time, it’s not possible to keep the work problems at work. And that’s fine. Still, there are ways you can mitigate the problems that are stressing you out.
The keys to managing stress at work
Let’s begin by saying that it’s not only the employee’s job to keep their stress under control. It’s also the Manager’s job to provide a stress-free business environment. Expecting great work performance is futile when the conditions are anything but favorable.
As for employees, they’ll benefit from following the tips below.
Remember: you’re entitled to boundaries and rest
You’re a human, not a robot. You don’t need to be available 24/7, not even if you’re working from home.
It’s understandable that you may be doing your boss a favor every now and again, but when these favors become too frequent, this could take a toll on your free time. Saying a kind “no, I can’t” won’t hurt anyone.
Besides, use your off hours to really relax. Get away from anything related to work, whether that’s work texts, calls, or emails, and try to focus on family time and leisure activities.
Avoid resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms
There are healthier ways to unwind that don’t involve alcohol and smoking. In order to avoid addiction and its distressing consequences, try working out, going for a night run, or watching a show. Exercising can make you fit, happier, and more productive within weeks, while doing something pleasant like watching a show helps take your mind off work.
Talk it out
If you’re worried about your stress levels, talking to a friendly coworker, your boss or even counsellor will help you deal with the problems at hand by offering fresh perspectives. Not only does talking it out strengthen your relationship with people, but it relieves you of your burdens — some of which may not be as heavy as you imagine.
Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you find your job is becoming detrimental to both your personal and professional life. Getting the problem solved early will save you from having to deal with unnecessary troubles for longer than necessary.