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Stress in the Workplace and Tips to Manage It

“My work is so stressful” – we often hear this phrase from others or say it ourselves. The modern world and technologies are developing extremely fast, and sometimes, we struggle to catch up. It is especially noticeable in a working environment. The ongoing challenge of meeting deadlines, managing various tasks, and staying productive impacts our mental and emotional health. Stress brings emotional burnout and physical symptoms.

Over the past few years, the pressure has risen so much that figures are alarming. The American Institute of Stress reports that in the US alone, 1 million employees miss work every day due to stress. How to recognize harmful factors in the working space and prevent painful outcomes? Keep reading to learn hints that will help you manage stressful situations at work.

What is work stress?

Stress is our natural physiological and psychological reaction to any strong irritant. When we are stressed, our bodies mobilize all their strength. Stress encourages the production of adrenal hormones and pushes us to make the right decision. However, a stressful work environment sooner or later brings negative consequences. For individuals, prolonged exposure to stress at work can result in physical, emotional, and mental health issues, including high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

These health problems not only affect an individual’s well-being but also impact their performance and productivity at work. Additionally, stress can strain relationships with colleagues and supervisors, leading to conflicts, decreased morale, and a toxic work culture.

What are stress triggers at work?

There are many things that can provoke stress at work and affect us. We may ignore them and accumulate dissatisfaction. What stress factors are the most harmful?

  • Fatigue. We often try to cope with excessive amounts of work that cannot be done within the time frame of the working day.  Overtime and working on weekends still do not reduce the flow of tasks. This vicious circle provokes overwork and leads to stress and burnout.
  • Insufficient reward. Stress slowly builds up when you give all your dedication to work, put your heart and effort into it, but there is no financial reward or recognition in return. The same applies to difficult working conditions. If you risk your life every day and do not receive a decent reward for it, then stress is inevitable.
  • Toxic environment. Poor company culture and negative attitude within a team are proven ways to chronic working stress. Bullying, sexual harassment and abusive supervision can lead to the most unwanted results. The absence of support is ruining for everyone.

Symptoms of work burnout

How to understand that you are experiencing stress at work? It will not happen overnight, of course, but you will surely notice some changes sooner or later:

  • Reduced productivity. It is impossible to be 100% productive every day. However, if the feeling of constant fatigue only grows, efficiency and motivation reduce, and you realize you simply lose interest, these are clear signs of burnout.
  • Emotional fatigue. Stressed people often suffer from a lack of joy and increased anxiety and frustration. You become excessively emotional and rather negative.
  • Helplessness. Stress leads to a loss of control over the situation. The whole world seems to be against you, so you experience persistent loneliness and have no strength to change anything.
  • Low self-esteem. Stress shakes your confidence. It creates a feeling of insecurity and constant doubts about your competence.
  • Loss of interest. Stress does not allow you to progress. You lose interest in work and perform all tasks mechanically, which immediately affects productivity.

All these signs demonstrate emotional burnout. It is vital to not to ignore these and eliminate stress in the early stages.

Ways to manage stress at work

Changing your working environment is not realistic sometimes. But you can change your attitude to it and develop some stress-reducing habits.

  • Time management

Effective time management is key to fighting stress in the workplace. Prioritize your tasks and create a daily schedule to stay organized and focused. Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Use tools like calendars, to-do lists, and task apps to keep track of deadlines and appointments. Remember to take regular breaks and recharge, as non-stop working can lead to burnout. Finally, learn to delegate tasks and ask for help when necessary. Effective time distribution will improve your productivity.

  • Exercise and nutrition matter

Physical activity and spending time outside normalizes the work of hormones. As a result, self-esteem improves, stress levels fall, and stress tolerance increases. Physical loads must be well-balanced, as overloading will only aggravate the situation. The same refers to eating habits. Avoid harmful food – focus on small, healthy and frequent meals to feel active during the day.

  • Get enough sleep

No matter how busy your work schedule is, try to get enough sleep. Do not use gadgets when you are in bed, and turn off bright lights. This is how you will encourage melatonin production, a hormone responsible for circadian cycles. Its work is affected by the light cycle. Try to sleep in complete darkness and in a well-aired room. These simple tips will improve your sleep and reduce stress.

  • Relaxation technics

Practicing meditation, mindfulness, and grounding exercises, like deep breathing, can relax your mind and body. Regular practice makes it easier to use these techniques when feeling stressed. Even some kind of ritual will help you get in the mood for productive work. It can be a 5-minute meditation, listening to your favorite music, playing a game, or a cup of coffee.

  • Set boundaries

You must maintain a healthy work-life balance. Talk about your limits and expectations with your colleagues and managers. Use employee attendance tracker to let them know when you are available to take on additional tasks and when you need time for yourself. Learn to say no when necessary to avoid overcommitting. Take regular work breaks throughout the day to recharge and avoid burnout. Finally, establish a cutoff time for work-related tasks to separate your professional and personal life. You will better manage your workload and reduce overworking.

  • Seek support

If you realize that you do not know how to overcome stress at work and do not have the personal resources to find a solution, seek help. These can be consultations with a psychologist or sessions with mental health specialists. With professional assistance, you will cope with stress faster and get rid of unhealthy behavior patterns. Sometimes, even heart-to-heart conversations with people you trust help reduce tension.

Summing up

A modern person cannot avoid stress. However, do not allow it to become habitual and unnoticeable. Ensure your work does not take up all your free time and weekends. Do not forget about friends, hobbies, walks and other things that make you happy. Do not blame yourself for watching social networks or funny videos on TikTok because it helps you relax and unwind. Learn to identify stress factors, develop habits to strengthen your resistance to stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.