How to Manage Stressful Situations at Work
No matter what field you’re in, it’s like you’ve struggled with work-related stress at one point or another. Whether it’s meeting a deadline or completing a challenging task, work stress holds the potential to become overwhelming.
The problem with unchecked stress is it can lead to a number of physical and emotional health complications. For this reason, it’s in all our best interest to find ways to better manage stressful situations at work.
Throughout this article, we’re going to explore the roots of your stress, how it’s affecting you, and what you can do to cope.
What’s Causing Your Stress?
Work-related stress can be caused by a number of different sources, including:
- Conflicting demands
- Excessive workload
- Lack of control in job-related decisions
- Low pay
- No opportunity to grow
- No social support
- Performing tasks that aren’t challenging or engaging
Even if you’re working in a field you enjoy, chances are one of the above points has bothered you at some time or another.
What Can Uncontrolled Stress Do?
You may think your stress is only affecting you at work. It can be easy to forget about when you go home at the end of the day and end up basking in leisure time. However, work-related stress doesn’t just go away and can worsen over time.
While you’re undergoing a stressful situation, you may experience:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short temper
Uncontrolled chronic stress may lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Other health complications (i.e. heart disease, obesity, etc.)
- Sleep disturbances
- Weakened immune system
Furthermore, if you may be coping with stress in unhealthy ways, such as:
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Smoking cigarettes
How to Manage Stressful Situations at Work
If you are looking to reduce stress at work, it’s going to take some trial and error before you find the right path for you. Some people benefit most from receiving professional mental help while others have found solace in all-natural herbs and other holistic treatments.
Here are a few step-by-step ways to help you better cope with stress:
1.) Identify What’s Causing Your Stress
While the causes of your stress may seem obvious, there are likely little ways in which your stress is eating at you. The best way to identify these is by keeping a journal and marking everything that causes stress.
Furthermore, it can be beneficial to document your response to that stressor. Did you run from the situation or did you overreact? What did you do in order to calm down?
These notes will give you some idea of how your thought process works. From there, you can identify stressors in real time and work on developing coping mechanisms to better manage negative emotions.
2.) Make Lifestyle Changes
As mentioned, you may be coping with stress through unhealthy measures, such as eating fast food or consuming alcohol. Instead of avoiding stressors in such a manner, it may help you to make lifestyle changes.
These will look different for everyone. However, some of the most popular include:
- Developing new hobbies
- Spending more time with loved ones
As you make these lifestyle changes, it’s just as important to keep in mind certain necessities we all have. For example, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting good-quality sleep every night and limiting exposure to unhealthy activities, such as social media.
3.) Give Yourself Time to Relax
While lifestyle changes are important, it’s just as vital to take some time for yourself. In a busy work week, we often look towards the weekend to participate in activities we actually enjoy. However, it may be more beneficial for us to simply take it easy in our time off.
Even more so, make sure your relaxation time is about you. Whether it’s taking a hike or enjoying your favorite meal, ensure that you’re giving yourself the time you deserve.
4.) Consult Your Supervisor and Co-Workers
You may not think it, but it’s in your boss’s best interest to ensure that you’re doing well mentally. Studies have found that employee well-being is linked to higher productivity and supervisors are well aware of this.
If you’ve identified stressors, it can help to share these with your supervisor and co-workers. Together, you and your team may be able to design a plan that helps reduce these stressors. Not to mention, your supervisor may know of resources that can help you.
5.) Find a Support System
At the end of the day, we all need a support system in order to better cope with our lives. This may be through trusted friends and family. Or it may be through a mental health professional.
Regardless of your circumstances, there are resources available to help you. Whether it’s an employee assistance program (i.e. counseling) or a group of other people with high-functioning stress, the support is there.
Work-related stress can seem relentless at times. But it is manageable. The key to overcoming it is seeking out a solution and following through with whatever you find.
Different people will find that different strategies work best for them. So, as mentioned, this may take some trial and error before you find what best suits you. The important thing is to not let failure deter you and to continue trying to make progress.