10 Ways to Reduce Stress at Work
Based on recent studies noted by the Global Organization for Stress, 6 out of 10 workers in major global economies are experiencing increasing levels of stress in the workplace. It has become a serious health issue that’s been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), especially with its alarming spike during the height of the pandemic in 2020. According to WHO, “Work-related stress can be caused by poor work organization (the way we design jobs and work systems, and the way we manage them), by poor work design (for example, lack of control over work processes), poor management, unsatisfactory working conditions and lack of support from colleagues and supervisors.”
Stress poses a myriad of health problems, both physically and psychologically. It can cause headaches, muscle and chest pains, fatigue, stomach aches, and disruption of sleep patterns. Being in stressful situations can make you feel anxious, restless, unfocussed, irritable, angry, depressed, and overwhelmed. While it’s unavoidable to encounter stress at work, there are ways to help you manage it so you can maintain productivity and engagement in the workplace.
1. Identify your stress triggers
Before anything else, find out what’s really stressing you out. From there, you can determine what would be the best way to manage them. Try this: for two weeks, take note of situations, events, and people who are triggering a negative response within you and mention a brief description of each. Here are questions that you should ask yourself to guide you: Where were you? Who/what was involved? What was your reaction? How did you feel?
2. Set boundaries and say “NO”
It can be stressful when the line between work and personal life becomes blurry. It’s time to re-establish boundaries and learn to say “no” more. For example, try not to check your email at night, during the weekends, or while you’re taking your statutory leaves. If you’re swamped with your core duties, learn to turn down additional work so you can prioritise on what’s more important. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with accepting extra work, just make sure you don’t let it overwhelm you and that you can manage to deliver on your other responsibilities as well.
3. Improve your time management skills
Discuss with your colleagues and managers to set realistic goals and expectations. Prioritise urgent tasks and adjust deadlines whenever possible. For more important and challenging projects, set enough time to work on it with no interruptions or break them into smaller steps. This will also ensure the quality of your output – that you’re not rushing to finish your work just to meet the deadline.
4. Control what you can
Job security is one of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace. At a time when Artificial Intelligence is steadily taking over some jobs, you can’t help but worry if you’ll be replaced. Change can bring uncertainty but it can also bring new opportunities for your own professional development. Learning new skills to adapt to these changes will future-proof your employment prospects.
5. Get other perspectives
Sometimes just talking about your stressful situation to family, friends, or a trusted colleague can help release the tension and anxiety that’s you’re feeling. Ask for suggestions on what their coping strategies are that have helped them to deal with their own stressful moments at work. Discussing how you feel with someone you trust in a safe space will also help you to avoid making public outbursts in the workplace due to pent-up emotions.
6. Take a break
Take full advantage of your work breaks and statutory leaves that you’re entitled to. Research has proven that taking breaks can restore your energy level, help you focus, and improve your productivity. You need to rest, refresh, and re-energize, whether it’s a few minutes of time-off during your workday, a vacation leave, or long weekends.
7. Find an outlet
If left unmanaged, stress can lead you to burnout at work. One way to prevent that is to find time to do activities that you enjoy. You can start a new hobby, catch up on your reading, meet up with friends, or keep a journal that you can use as an outlet for how you feel.
8. Deal with office politics positively
Office politics can create a stressful working environment, whether you’re directly involved or otherwise. In reality, there will always be some form of office politics that can’t be avoided. But if you have to play the game, so to speak, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dorie Clark recommends that you can adapt by making “smart and strategic moves in order to gain influence authentically” without resorting to deception which can produce negative effects in your relationship with your colleagues.
9. Manage your feelings towards distractions
Whether you’re working from home or onsite, distractions will always happen, no matter how organised you are. If this triggers stress for you, you might want to consider it from a different perspective. Whilst there is a need to set boundaries when you have a high-level meeting, for example, some interruptions during the course of your daily work can be moments that allow you to connect with the people around you. This can help diffuse the build-up of stress every time this happens. Remember: you’re not a machine.
10. Consult with mental health resources
If it has become increasingly difficult for you to manage work stress on your own, there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you wish to seek professional support. There might be underlying mental health concerns that you are not fully aware of. Enquire from your company if they have mental health assistance programs or resources that can help you handle work-related stress. Perhaps counselling sessions with a mental health provider will help you to deal with your on-the-job stress issues.
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Among the head-hunting firms in Vietnam, The Talent Consultants is the trusted source of high-quality talent for multinational businesses. With our expertise and experience in workforce management and talent acquisition, we have helped industry-leading companies who need the most qualified candidates from the Southeast Asian region to fulfil high-performing job roles.
We also offer free online resources to guide candidates in their career journey and to help employers in managing their remote staff. If you need more information in dealing with work-related mental health concerns, you can find more tips here or check our blogs for more support and information.
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