Stress on the Job
Job and workplace stress is one of
the biggest sources of stress in today’s world. According to the American
Psychological Association (APA), about 70 percent of Americans cite
workplace stress as causing significant stress in their lives. That stress
extends far beyond the office; the stress from a job can affect personal or
professional relationships. It can also affect your health. In fact,
work-related stresses increase your risk of heart disease.
You don’t have to suffer endlessly
because of this stress. Here are a few steps you can take to make work
healthier for you.
Identify Your Stressors
Keep a stress journal for a week.
Record what events or people increased your stress level. Note how each
situation made you feel, how you responded, and what you wish was different.
Then review your journal after several days.
What is one stressor you think you
can change? Maybe it’s how you react to last-minute deadlines or how you
respond when a colleague is late with something. Make that stressor a priority —
brainstorm ways it could be resolved differently, decide on a game plan for
change, then implement it.
If that tactic doesn’t work, try
another until you’ve found a strategy that works for you. Once you’ve lessened
the effects of one stressor on your life, move on to the next.
Swamped. Overloaded. Overwhelmed.
Drowning in papers. We’ve all been there, and it’s not a great place to be.
Make your workload work for you to
the extent you control your daily schedule. Time-management skills are vital to
planning, prioritizing, and completing tasks. Set hourly or daily goals, but be
realistic. If there’s no way you will complete a project in two days, do not
push yourself. If, in the end, you’re left with some extra time after
completing your project, consider it a few spare moments you can catch up on
email, get ahead on your next task, or fight stress with some deep breathing at
Ask for Help
It can be nerve-racking to ask your
boss or colleague for help, but if it keeps you from getting behind or making
costly errors, mustering up the courage to
ask is absolutely worthwhile.
They might have valuable insight or
information that can help you do your job better and faster. In many cases,
people will often respect you more for opening up and making your stress known.
There is a lot to be said for
15-minute breaks. When you allow yourself to walk away from your desk for a
moment, you clear your brain and refresh your internal work batteries. Just
don’t reach for a cigarette while you’re taking a break. Nicotine acts
similarly to stress on your body, keeping it in a tense state. Instead, do some
stretching at your desk or in the break room, or sit outside and enjoy some
Desperate for a quick pick-me-up?
Think a cup of coffee is just what the doctor ordered? Not so fast. Research
has shown that coffee or caffeine isn’t the best source of energy. Instead,
take a quick walk outside. The natural scenery gives you a boost of energy, as
does the exercise. In fact, 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is just as
beneficial as one 30-minute session.
Leave Work Behind
Leave work at work.
When you take the stressors of your nine-to-five home with you, you never get a
break. Use visualization to help you with this. When you get to your car at the
end of your day, picture all of your work responsibilities being left behind.
They’ll still be there tomorrow.
As you drive away, picture them getting further and further
from your mind. Once home, don’t worry about work-related things if you don’t
have to. You’ll come to realize that you usually don’t have to.
Stress management is a skill. For many of us, it’s a skill
that we have yet to master. However, as with any skill, practice can help.
Making a few small changes in the way you do things can lessen the negative
effects of work-related stress on your life and health.