November 1, 2017

Tips on Dealing with Stress at Work

We all face stress at work and in our life in general. Typically, most of us do not associate stress with happy things or good and peaceful feelings. Therefore, most of us either try to avoid stress or dislike stress. It is impossible to avoid stress, so, even if we never like stress, we have to find a way to deal with it in a healthy and productive way. 

November 1st is National Stress Awareness Day (First Wednesday of November). So, to honor this day, and since this blog deals with work and career related issues, I thought of focusing on how we can handle stress in the workplace. 

Stress in the office place falls into three categories as noted by Joseph Thomas
1. Stress because of your job 
2. Stress because of your colleagues 
3. Stress because of your boss 

Tips to Handle Work Related Stress 
The tips below were collected from Facebook friends who generously shared their thoughts on this topic as research for this article. Some of my own two cents on these tips may also be sprinkled throughout the tips. Feel free to browse the Facebook thread, share your own additional tips on the thread or in the comments section below.


Job- Related Stress Relief Tips 
1. Learn project management. Break down projects into smaller chunks. Also learn how to set realistic deadlines and timelines based on project milestones.
2. Making to-do lists, prioritizing the tasks to be done.
3. If possible, schedule certain tasks for certain days and times of the week on a regimen. 

4. If possible, find new ways to do the same thing or learn the process and streamline it

Tips on Relieving Stress Caused by Colleagues 
1. If possible, work as a team; collaborate and to share the burden of tasks. Delegate or share duties when possible.
2. Team members can be cross-trained so that if someone is out, another co-worker can possibly take care of some tasks or meetings that need to be handled.
3. Laugh, play games, maybe do something together outside of work to get to know each other on more of a personal level.
4. Bring a sense of humor to the team to relieve stress or challenges.
5. If there are conflicts or policy breeches, it may be necessary to look into the company policy as to how to handle employee disagreements. In some cases, your manager or Human Resources (HR) may need to intervene or advise. 

6. Learn how to work with people who are negative. Some people will not think positively and are Negative Nellys or Doubting Debbies. Learn more about how to handle negative people and situations here

How to Overcome Stress Caused by Our Boss (or Client) 
1. What leverage do you have to negotiate timelines or deadlines? Can you have an open dialogue with stakeholders about what is causing stress?
2. Prepare ahead of time for meetings with the boss or the client. This will help you especially in negotiation or critical talks to be ready for some of the conversation to come.
3. Take a deep breath or a break in between client or customer calls to help the mind switch gears and take a break. This will help you handle situations with irate customers better

4. Do you have leverage to convince someone of your standpoint? What does he or she want that you have? What can he or she do for you to make your life easier? What information do you have that he or she doesn't have? 

General Tips To Overcome Workplace Stressors 
1. Try not to personalize work-related problems.
2. Learn conflict resolution skills and apply them appropriately.
3. Find a healthy way to take out stress outside of work (not on family or spouse).
4. Have rituals to separate work from home (even it’s as simple as a change of clothes). This really helps with work-life balance.
5. Get enough sleep, eat well, and go to sleep and wake up on a regular schedule.
6. Get exercise or have some physical activity in your life.
7. See if there are ways to integrate fun into work everyday or at least on special days (holiday or cultural programs, birthdays, annual days, or other company related events).
8. Don’t worry about things you don’t have control over. Try to do what you can in your own capacity, delegate the rest.
9. Don’t brood and loose sleep (when possible!).
10. Have hobbies outside of work to distract and relax the mind.
11. Have a set of friends outside of work that aren’t colleagues so that all conversations don’t go back to work-related topics.
12. Have a good support system- someone you can talk to about work or work-related issues. But, don’t talk to that person about only work all the time!
13. Keep a list of inspirational quotes or mantras or prayers.
14. Don’t forget to drink water and reduce caffeine intake. Try to eat healthy and on a regular schedule.
15. Step away from the situation if possible to clear your head.
16. Be nice. Treat others like you like to be treated. Show empathy. 

17. Take a step back from the situation and see if our own fears or responses are realistic or warranted. Sometimes we can be too close to the situation, take it too personally or blow it out of proportion.
18. Set aside time for worry. Don’t worry during other times. 

19. Learn how to give feedback that inspires conversation rather than shut down. 
20. Listen more. Talk less. 
21. Place pictures of loved ones on your desk or on your phone or computer. Look at them to calm down. Pictures of religious symbols, saints or god(s) can also help. 
22. Have toys, stress relief balls or some gadgets on your desk or in your work area you can use to reduce stress, like a stress ball (pictured, right). 
23. Visualize a good outcome. Have positive thoughts. Take a break. Meditate. 
24. Try to understand what you can and can't tolerate. If everything is a stressor it's like the boy that cried wolf... when it comes time for a real stressor to rear it's ugly head, no one will believe the person who says everything stresses them out. 

Is There a Cure for Work Related Stress? 
There is probably not a one-size fits all cure, nor would stress magically vanish. We all have different thresh-holds for stress. What makes one stressed out may not even phase another person. Maybe we can learn from each other in these cases. In some cases, stress can be a motivator helping us to stay focused or on task. Some agree that stress will always be a part of work (and of life) and rather than try to avoid or deny it, we must find ways to handle and overcome it. 

A Stress-Relief Plan? 
I have worked with some professionals on a stress-relief plan. We would outline a few situations that cause stress on the job and a few solutions or ideas to reduce the stress. Maybe creating a stress-relief plan may be useful for you as well. If you need assistance with that, that is one of the services provided through Authentic Journeys personalized coaching services. 

Do you have any other strategies or advice on dealing with office-place stress? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or in this Facebook thread

Related Posts:
Conflict Management Model: Apply this for helping resolve conflicts on the job or in life. 
How to deliver bad news or criticism in a collaborative way 
Learn how to say no [to American clients]  
How to structure a negotiation conversation 

Images all from creative commons @flickr: Bernard Goldbach: eggs, Dennis Skley: stressed out man, Pedro Vera: stress ball
Positive thoughts: Jennifer Kumar (blog author)

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