Stress Less, Part One: 4 Powerful Ways to Reduce Stress at Work
We carry around stress with us wherever we go, and it can have a dramatic effect on our work, home and social lives. If you deal with a lot of stress at work, you’re not alone.
Stress is no stranger to work. Long days, overbearing workloads and strict deadlines put many of us in a constant state of mental exhaustion. Thankfully there are proven ways to help address and reduce work stress.
Here are four powerful techniques to help you reduce stress at work, so you can lead a more relaxing (and healthy) life overall.
1. Identify “Bad” Stress
Some workplace stress is normal, but excess stress hinders your well-being (and your work!). We’ll call this “bad” stress. Identifying the warning signs of “bad” stress will allow you to conquer it before it has a chance to build.
Regain control over yourself and the situation by becoming familiar with your warning signs, which may include:
- Feeling anxious, depressed or irritable
- Social withdrawal
- Fatigue and weariness
- Loss of sex drive
- Loss of appetite
- Mindless overeating
- Loss of interest in work
Your particular stress response may not be the same as your spouse’s, a friend’s or coworker’s. Understand your own emotions, motivations and reactions to stressful situations. If you ignore your emotions at work, you’re bound to deal with higher levels of stress at work.
2. Don’t Overcommit
Have you ever heard David Allen’s famous quote, “You can do anything, but not everything”? It’s okay if you can’t conquer the world. If you think you can, you’re just setting yourself up for loads of stress at work.
Know your limits. Learn to say “no” if you really don’t think you can handle that extra assignment. Learn to ask for help, or to delegate responsibilities, if you don’t think you can meet that tight deadline. And stop criticizing yourself for needing assistance. A confident and successful person is aware of their weaknesses at all times.
One more thing: stop trying to fit everything into one day. That never-ending to-do list may seem like it never ends, but it will be there tomorrow. Most things can probably wait. If you really want to reduce work stress for good, set realistic goals for yourself every day without getting too attached to your results. Finish what you can finish, and leave the rest for tomorrow.
3. Prioritize Your Tasks
There’s another great saying from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Basically, if you tackle the most important, most challenging, least desirable tasks at the beginning of your work day, the rest of your day will be a breeze. You will set yourself up for a less stressful workday.
We’re big on handwritten to-do lists. Especially since about 99% of our work involves the computer, we find it extremely helpful to have our to-do lists written out on paper. Try separating your tasks based on importance and time-sensitivity, and highlight completed tasks so you can have the satisfaction of crossing it out. It is satisfying, trust us!
4. Communicate Your Needs
You have GOT to open up. Seriously. Don’t let your problems at work fester inside of you. Let your feelings out, however suits you best, but try to make it constructive. You may find it helpful to talk to a close friend, family member or spouse about your stress at work. If you speak to a counselor, it’s worth bringing up the topic of work. Even if tears come to your eyes or anger surfaces, opening up is therapeutic in many ways.
But don’t leave your boss or supervisor out of the loop. They need to know if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work. They need to know if you don’t feel comfortable in your job. Of course you dread bringing up internal problems to your boss – that’s normal. But just remember that communication breeds support and understanding. Nobody can help you if they don’t know what you need help with. You might even earn some respect if you open up the doors of communication because it shows you want to do an excellent job.
More Stress Relief at Work…
We don’t want to overload you with too many stress reducing treats. You’re busy enough. 🙂 But not to worry, we have lots more where that came from. If you like our ideas so far for reducing stress at work, stay tuned for more ideas that are on the way (notice how this was only “Part One” of a soon-to-be series?).
We chose these tips based on our own personal experiences, so we know they work. Give them a whirl and see how you start to feel. Remember that every single day is another day to stress less. It takes practice, so be patient and give yourself time to implement each of these stress relieving techniques.
Don’t forget – we will be posting more articles outlining additional ways to reduce stress at work. Keep your eyes peeled or, even better, subscribe to our RSS feed so you’ll get it sent right to your email. One less thing to stress about!