How to Relieve Stress at Work: 7 Tips
You're not alone if you feel like you're stumbling because of the stresses put on you by work. Every job -- no matter the pay or title -- comes with its own set of tensions, pressures, and burdens. The American Psychological Association found in a 2012 study that 65 percent of Americans named work as a top source for stress.1 That same study found that only 37 percent of Americans thought they were doing a good job figuring out how to relieve stress at work.
It's when that stress starts leaking into other parts of your life in negative ways that there can be serious repercussions. Relationships, schoolwork, and even your health (insomnia, weight gain or high blood pressure anyone?) can all suffer if you're experiencing chronic work-related stress. The problem can even be more exacerbated by your other commitments -- school and family obligations, for instance, come with their own sets of potential extreme stress issues.
So how do you deal with stress at work? The American Psychological Association offers these tips on how to reduce stress at work and alleviate the related issues2:
- Figure out what specifically is bothering you. Keep a diary to identify when you are feeling most upset. Record not only what occurred to cause the stress, but details on who was involved, what time it happened, where it happened, and how you reacted to the situation. By tracking the points at which you feel most stressed you can begin to work to fix those specific situations.
- Develop boundaries. Smart phones make it feel like you should be available by text or email 24/7. Make it a rule not to check work email from home or keep your phone on silent during evening school study time.
- Recharge. As difficult as it may seem, it is important to "turn off" work by having periods of time that you don't think about it. Take your vacation days. Turn off your phone. Relax. Unwind. Unplug. Your family and your boss will thank you for it in the long run.
- Learn to relax. Practices such as yoga, meditation, or even just deep breathing exercises can melt away stress. Don't know how to do it? Find a class to join. Learning how to relax is a great way to learn how to relieve stress at work.
- Make healthy choices. Stress can cause you to indulge in bad habits, like overeating, drinking too much or arguing with your friends and family. Instead, if you feel yourself grabbing a snack not because you're hungry but because you're stressed, try going for a walk. Instead of an alcoholic drink at night, have decaf hot tea. Developing healthier habits will make you feel more relaxed in the long run.
- Use your network of support. Understanding and loving friends and family can talk you through issues, offer support and help you find distractions from your pressures. Don't keep your stress bottled up. It can cause even more issues if you aren't addressing the root of the problem, in this case looking at how to cope with stress at work. If you feel like you need more help than friends and family can offer, talk to a mental health professional. Trained professionals can help with ways to manage stress and help you alter behaviors that can make long-term positive change in your life.
- Talk to your boss. While you don't want to complain or be overly emotional, it is OK to ask your boss to help you come up with a plan to manage the stressors you've identified. A boss might not realize how much pressure is on you, the time management issues you're fighting against, or realize that you're not being challenged enough. If your supervisor is aware that you're having specific issues then she is more likely to help you in dealing with stress at work and come up with solutions to overcome those chronic problems.
Whatever you do, don't try to go it alone if you are feeling under extreme stress. You aren't alone in your battle -- and there are people who want to do whatever they can to help you on the road to success!
Are you also earning your degree while working full-time? Here are tips to help balance both workloads.
1, 2 http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx
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