How to Deal with Stress at Work

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: June 11, 2015

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Unfortunately, stress at work is not uncommon and with economic turbulence, it only seems to have become worse. Often, employees also find that they are tasked with a larger workload, but with less time and resources, which only adds to the pressure, which can build up and affect you both physically and emotionally.

If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. The majority of people experience some level of stress during their working life. In fact, The APS Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey revealed that one in four Australians reported moderate to severe levels of distress in 2014. Thankfully though there is help, with a number of techniques to get these feelings under control. Follow our Open Colleges guide to help reduce your stress in the workplace:

What causes stress?

There are many reasons why you could be feeling stressed at work, even if you love what you do. Perhaps your company is laying off staff or cutting budgets, your boss may have unrealistic expectations, you have a tight deadline to meet, you’re expected to work long hours, there’s office conflicts or you may feel like you have a lack of support from managers.

Why it’s important to manage stress at work

Whatever the cause of your stress, it can interfere with your work. Stress can leave you feeling unhappy, making you less engaged and unproductive. It’s also possible that your job satisfaction may lower, leading to more sick days, or you may even decide to leave your job altogether. If your stress becomes severe, it can impact both your physical and mental health, extending beyond your workplace into your personal life too.

How to recognise the warning signs of stress

Ignoring stress can lead to much bigger problems. It’s therefore important that you spot the signs as soon as possible. Stress can show itself in many forms, from trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression, headaches and pains, high blood pressure, to even using alcohol as a coping mechanism. How to deal with stress

Instead of hiding stress inside, getting angry or upset, learn how you can manage work-related stress effectively. Here are 7 steps that you can try:

  1. Look after yourself – Spend time improving your own physical and mental health, to help you become happier at work, stronger and ready to cope with stress. Simply taking the time to stop and take a deep breath can help. Alternatively, get active with an aerobic activity, to release those “feel good” hormones. Eating healthily is also important as it keeps your blood sugar levels steady, helping you to maintain your energy and focus. Plus, although it can sometimes be difficult, especially as stress can cause insomnia, don’t forget your 8 hours of sleep!
  2. Manage your time – Create a balanced schedule and stick to it. Don’t commit to more than you can achieve and learn to say “no” or to delegate projects to others.
  3. Have a break – Although you may be swamped with work, it’s still important to find time for regular short breaks, which can help you to relax and recharge.
  4. Manage your tasks – We can get stressed when we feel situations are out of our control. Therefore, reduce this pressure by breaking down tasks into more manageable chunks. You can then prioritise your work so you have a clear schedule, putting you back in control.
  5. Change your habits – Have you considered how you could be making yourself stressed? For example, do you seek perfection, constantly leave late and find yourself rushing to get into work on time, or always see the negatives in a situation? Review where your old habits could be causing stress and make a change!
  6. Set boundaries – In today’s digital world, it’s easy to feel work pressure 24/7. It’s therefore important to create a good work-life balance. This can ensure you leave time for yourself, to relax and unwind. For further help, take a look at our 8 steps to a better work-life balance guide.
  7. Get support – Don’t try to deal with everything alone. Talk to friends and family. Even just sharing your feelings can help to relieve some of the stress that has built up. You could also consider talking to your manager. They may be able to help you, or even tackle stress in the workplace as a whole, as it’s likely that other employees are experiencing the same feelings as you. There are also many different professionals who you can seek help and advice from. Visit www.findapsychologist.org.au to find out more.

As you can see, it may seem insignificant to start with, but if you don’t deal with stress correctly, much bigger problems can arise. We hope that with this advice, you can start to reduce your stress, to become happier, healthier and more productive at work. Have you experienced stress and tried any techniques that worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!

 

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Yvette McKenzie

Yvette

Is the content strategist at Open Colleges. She has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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