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How To Avoid Stress At Work And Start Feeling Better In No Time

himoment
May 31, 2018

We all suffer from work-related stress. It can be caused by a number of different reasons – sometimes because of poor management, bad working conditions or our wrong choices. In the UK for example, more than 500,000 workers suffer from work-related stress and depression and more than 12.5 million working days are lost due to work-related stress.

It’s impossible to avoid stress at work, but there are some coping mechanisms and steps you can take to manage work-related stress.

What Are Some Typical Sources of Stress at Work?

Some sources of work-related stress are more common than others.

They can include;

  • Low salaries
  • A heavy workload
  • No opportunities for advancement
  • Work that’s not challenging you and bringing out your full potential
  • Not having enough say in the company
  • Bad company culture
  • Unclear performance expectations

Bad Effects of Stress on Health

The bad thing about work-related stress is that it can be chronic and last for a long time. If it’s continuous, chronic stress can take a toll on health and person’s general well being.

It is also associated with a number of different diseases, such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, a weakened immune system and some unhealthy ways of coping, such as eating junk food, smoking, not investing time into physical activity, or abusing drugs and alcohol.

A stressful work environment also has negative daily consequences such as a headache and stomachache, difficulty concentrating, a short temper etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Work Related Stress

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • No interest in work
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Bad concentration
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Stomachache
  • Unhealthy ways of coping
  • Loss of sex drive

However, there are some steps you can take to minimize the bad effects of work-related stress.

How To Avoid Stress At Work

Identify your anchors

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First of all, start with identifying your anchors.

What are your biggest stressors? What worries you on a daily basis at work? Keep a journal for a few weeks and try to identify situations that trigger your stress response.

How do you react to these situations? Write that in your journal as well and try to be as descriptive as possible.

Include people and situations, and try to describe how you felt emotionally.

Did you get a sudden craving for a chocolate? Or did you find yourself angry and irritated with a specific situation or people?

After writing this down for a couple of weeks, some patterns related to how you react to stress will definitely emerge.

This can be your first step in realizing what problems you’re facing and to prepare a strategy on how to avoid stress at work.

Develop Active Coping

Many people deal with stress in unhealthy ways, making their situation much worse. Remember to take some time off to recharge and replenish your energy.

Basically, any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. Sometimes even five minutes of stretching can work wonders on improving your mood. This is especially the case if you spend a lot of time in front of the screen. Yoga and walking are other excellent choices.

Limit your caffeine intake and pay special attention to your sleep. Good quality sleep is your best friend when it comes to productivity. Some other forms of active coping include: setting priorities and seeking solutions, relaxing, eating healthy food, asking for help etc.

Establish Work-Life Boundaries

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Are you a workaholic? Do you constantly talk about work and check your emails even after your work hours are done? You’re not alone. According to a Gallup study, more than 67 percent of employees check their emails after work. And according to a number of different studies done in this field, checking emails after work creates anticipatory stress.

However, a lot of people complain about this dynamic without realizing it’s them who are partly guilty of this. Sometimes it is necessary to be available but setting a clear work-personal life boundary will work wonders on relieving your stress levels.

Also, it’s very important to set some clear boundaries at work. Average worker gets interrupted four times in an hour. How you react to this will also significantly impact your mood.

You may train your coworkers by only answering emails at a certain time of the day or whatever you find appropriate for the situation.

If possible, try to schedule some regular breaks while at work. Take some time to do a body stretch, have a quick chat with a coworker or go grab some lunch. Even these short breaks, can boost our productivity and mood.

Use Your Holidays

One of the best things you can do for your productivity and general well being is taking the time to switch off. Did you know that more than half of Americans haven’t used their vacation last year?

If all we do is work, without taking the time to recharge ourselves, our productivity and effectiveness will plummet. Working a lot won’t bring us closer to our goals. We recommend Stefan Segmeister’s TED Talk, who talks about the importance of taking time off.

Visit a new city, book that summer holiday, or simply go to a wellness center. Visit family and friends. Not only you’ll feel recharged and more rested, but you may even gain some new perspectives and more creative outlook.

Find Ways To Relax

Try to find ways to relax in your free time. Some of the best relaxation techniques are meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises.

We recommend the meditation guidelines by Diana Winston from the University of Los Angeles Mindful Awareness Research Center. You can access them here.

A mindful meditation was also part of our happiness challenge.

Happiness challenge #4: meditation

For happiness challenge #4, we'll do some mindfulness meditation. It's a proven technique to combat stress and focus on the present moment.Ps: My favorite meditation guidelines are by Diana Winston from University of Los Angeles Mindful Awareness Research Center.? http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations

Gepostet von hiMoment am Sonntag, 25. Februar 2018

If possible try to take at least 10 minutes to meditate. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You’ll be surprised how much clarity this can bring to your day.

Being mindful is one of the best ways to avoid stress at work. Try to focus on just one activity and be present in the moment.

You can try some quick relaxation methods at your work as well. For example, choose a herbal tea over coffee. Try a DIY hand massage. Or if catch yourself being irritated because of something or someone, remember you can always squeeze that stress ball. 🙂

Sleep

how to avoid stress at work

No other productivity tip will help you that much if the quality of your sleep sucks. Having a normal sleep routine can help increase our productivity and effectivity, problem-solving skills and concentration.

If you are well rested, you will be much more ready to tackle the everyday stresses you encounter at work.

One of the best things you could do to improve the quality of your sleep is to wake up at the same time every day. Yes, this means on weekends too.

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep as oversleeping can also make you feel groggy and can affect your mood.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try to make your environment sleep-friendly. Turn off your TV, laptop, tablet and every other device after 9 pm.

Avoid looking at your mobile phone and scrolling down your Instagram feed late at night. The light from these devices can suppress the production of melatonin which is very important for your sleep. You can also install Flux on your computer and mobile phone. This software adjusts the color of your display to the time of day.

Try to relax in the evening hours. Read a book, have a bath, meditate, or simply revisit some of your favorite moments in the hiMoment app. If you didn’t check us yet, do so via Google Play or Apple Store.

Avoid emails, thinking or talking about work.

Irregular shifts can also affect your sleep schedule. If possible, try to limit the number of irregular shifts you have to work.

Prioritize

Knowing how to prioritize is probably one of the best work skills you can possess.

Always put the most difficult task as your number one priority. Also, if you feel like you’re most productive early in the morning, tackle the difficult tasks first thing in the morning. Get in the state of FLOW. This is the optimal state of our mind where we feel and perform our best. There’s a really great TED talk on this topic by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

You’ll feel less stressed throughout the day and you’ll be able to do other tasks without worrying and stressing over the more important stuff. Identify your three most important tasks per day and always tackle the most difficult one first.

Whenever we start working on a new or big project we get overwhelmed. A sudden rush of anxiety attacks our body and we wonder how we’re gonna tackle this. Very often we procrastinate and have a problem to even start.

Break big projects into small achievable tasks that will take you closer to your goal. As they say – small steps yield big results.

Another good tactic is Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important principle.

Once he famously said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

His idea of great time management means being equally effective and efficient.

Here’s a great article on Eisenhower’s tactic.

Talk It Out

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Sometimes a conversation with friends and family can give us some new insights about our situation or a problem. The sole act of confession can help us regain the sense of calm and remove the negative energy.

Having a wide social circle is very important as other people can be a key to our happiness.

Socialize with people as much as you can. Try networking and meet new people with similar interests to yours. Websites like Meetup offer a number of group meetings based on interest and location.

If you’re a freelancer, try coworking spaces or laptop-friendly cafes. Just make sure to leave your house once in a while. 😉

Being surrounded by like-minded people and people we can turn to in a difficult moment can relieve our stress significantly.

However, if you continue to be chronically stressed you might want to talk it out with a therapist.

A therapist can help you challenge some of your views, suggest tips that can help you manage stress or help you be more assertive in everyday communication.

Ask for Help or Delegate

If you are swamped with work, you can always turn to your coworkers and ask for help or advice during a difficult situation. Just remember to do the same for them.

Another common thing, especially among entrepreneurs, is the desire to control everything. Focus on what you do the best and let others do their part. There are a couple of benefits of delegation but the most important ones are increased efficiency, balanced workload, and better communication among your team members.

Here’s an interesting piece on how you can delegate more effectively in your business.

Exercise

how to avoid stress at work

Exercise and any kind of physical activity will work great on diminishing the effects of stress. Exercise can improve your mood and energy, sharpen your focus and relax your body.

Even a small walk will help relax your nervous system. Most studies have shown that even 30 minutes of exercise per day can have great benefits for overall health. Here are some desk stretches you can do at work.

Pay attention to your posture, because not only it can affect your health, but your mood too. According to Andy Yap, a lecturer at MIT, your posture can influence your psychology.

Stop hunching over your phone and laptop and try to make your workstation as ergonomic as possible. Invest in a good chair and laptop stand. And don’t forget to do exercises for back, because strengthening your back muscles is very important for a healthy posture.

Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated

Stress in combination with unhealthy eating and caffeine overdose is a recipe for failure. If you skip breakfast, eat junk food or smoke, this will take a big toll on your work productivity and well being. Here are some healthy breakfast ideas.

Eat small but frequent meals as this will keep your blood sugar levels in check. Avoid refined carbs and sugar. This will just leave you feeling lethargic, making your work-related symptoms even worse. The same goes for coffee and caffeinated drinks.

Stay hydrated and make sure to drink a lot of water. Other alternative sources of water include soups, fruits and vegetables, and smoothies.

Avoid Negativity

Sometimes we tend to be really hard on ourselves and make our situation even worse than it actually is.

If you catch yourself complaining all the time, remember that this habit can physically rewire your brain to be even more anxious and depressed!

If all you do is complain about your co-workers and your work, and if you see negative in every situation, you’re just creating an additional source of stress.

Try to see good things in every situation and keep track of your accomplishments, even the small ones. You will feel more grateful and therefore happier.

Try to notice if you have very unrealistic or high expectations of yourself. Avoid perfectionism as this can be another cause of anxiety and stress at work.

And lastly, don’t forget to smile. Sometimes, humor can be the best medicine.

Talk To Your Employer

Great companies and great employers care about their workers and their problems. Talk with your employer about the conditions that cause stress and see if there’s a way for improvement.

If you’re stressed or if you feel unhappy about something say it. If you’re not happy where you are request a transfer. Ask for new responsibilities if you want to learn something new.

It’s Up To You

There are a lot of ways to avoid stress at work. Some of them you’ve found here in this blog post. In the end, remember that there’s no ideal job.

Even if you do something that you have always wanted, there will always be certain aspects of that job that you won’t enjoy doing.

Try to find the best in every situation and small daily things you feel grateful for.

Featured photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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