Stress at work is inevitable. After all, any job can still have stressful elements, even if you sincerely love what you do. Perhaps you need to meet a deadline for an urgent project, or you’re asked to fulfill a difficult obligation that you’ve never done before. Either way, you’ll likely experience short-term work-related stress from time to time. But a little bit of stress at work isn’t always bad as it helps you stay energetic, motivated, and focused on any challenges you meet in the workplace.
On the downside, when the stress you feel at work becomes chronic or more frequent, it can become overwhelming and harmful to your physical, emotional, and mental health. Regular tight deadlines, increasing demands from customers or bosses, and long work hours can leave you feeling drained, worried, anxious, or even depressed. Eventually, when work-related stress is left unmanaged, it can take over your general health and personal life.
While you can’t always control the tensions that may happen in your work environment, thankfully, you’re in control of how you respond when stuck in a stressful situation. This article will present to you five workplace strategies for mental health that will help you handle stress in the workplace and gain a sense of control at work.
1. Identify your stress triggers
Before you can cope with stress in the workplace, it’s a good idea to track your situation and try to identify the person, event, situation, or place that has triggered stress. You can do this for a week or two and try to answer these guide questions:
- Who was involved during that stressful scenario?
- Where did it happen?
- What did you feel?
- How did you react?
Perhaps you felt stressed when your co-worker or boss reprimanded you. Or, maybe the source of your constant stress is your uncomfortable workspace or long commute. Once you’ve identified triggers, evaluate each situation and find ways to resolve them.
For example, if an uncomfortable workspace causes stress, schedule a general clean-up for your office space and eliminate the clutter. If you’re working from your home office, try to find another much quieter and better area than your previous one.
Another example is if a co-worker triggers stress. In that case, your best solution is to avoid or confront the person. Letting them know about your feelings might help change the situation and make them treat you better. Overall, the best way to handle work-related stress is to find ways to shift the circumstances.
2. Take time to recharge
Remember, just because it’s still within your work hours doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to take a break. Whether you’re working straight for 12 hours or half-day, take a few minutes to recharge yourself to avoid burnout and work stress.
For example, during lunch breaks, you can use 10 to 15 minutes of your extra time to meditate, do deep breathing exercises, listen to your favorite music, or watch a funny video. These quick pauses throughout the day will allow your mind to relax, recharge, and prepare itself for another set of challenges. Another way to recharge is to disconnect yourself from anything work-related during your lunch breaks and once your work shift is over. You may turn off your work-related emails or avoid using your company phone, tablet, or laptop at night. Disconnecting from work can help you regain your passion for accomplishing your tasks in the office, hence, improving your productivity.
3. Create a healthy work-life balance
An unhealthy work-life balance is among the leading causes of work stress and lack of productivity. Many people cling to the belief that to be productive and successful in the workplace, you must push yourself overboard, work long hours, and sacrifice your personal life. Unfortunately, doing so will only harm your mental health and lead to stress, burnout, and anxiety.
Give yourself “personal space and time” when necessary to achieve a healthy work-life balance. You can work as hard as you can during your shift. But once your working schedule is over, make sure to spend time with your friends and family, set aside time for rest, or do anything that makes you happy.
Furthermore, avoid overcrossing the boundaries between your work and personal life. For instance, if you still have unfinished tasks at work, never take them home or even continue doing them in your bedroom. Turning off your company gadgets will help create a separation between work and personal life.
4. Have a strong support network
Sometimes, using too much of your time at work can adversely affect your relationship with your friends and family. That said, it’s best to remain in touch with your support network as much as possible, as their presence can help you handle work-related stress. If you’re dealing with a challenging work project or catching up with a tight deadline this week, you can ask your close friends or family to pick up your kids from school for you. Or, if the pressure at work seems too overwhelming, you can call on your friends and loved ones to help you unwind on the weekends. Having people to rely on during difficult times can help alleviate the tension you feel at work.
5. Take care of yourself
Ultimately, the best way to handle stress in the workplace is to continue looking after yourself. If you take care of your general health and wellness, you’ll be more resilient and adaptable in handling work-related stress. Don’t worry; taking care of yourself doesn’t mean completely changing your lifestyle.
Making small changes and improvements to your daily habits may be enough to keep you healthy and in control of how you respond to your work environment. A few ways you can look after yourself may include:
- Taking a 5- to 10-minute walk daily
- Drinking plenty of water
- Getting enough sleep every night
- Eating a healthy diet
- Making time for your hobbies
- Spending time with pets or loved ones
Remember, the healthier you are, the more ready you’ll be to deal with stress without feeling overwhelmed. So, take a small step at a time in making positive lifestyle changes, and sooner or later, you’ll grow stronger and better at handling work-related stress.
The workplace is often the leading cause of someone’s stress and burnout. Thankfully, these tips will help you handle work-related stress better and healthier, making you more productive. Meanwhile, if none of these work for you, don’t hesitate to consult a mental health professional. Through counseling and professional guidance, they can help you handle job stress effectively.
Anonymous, “Work-Related Stress,” Better Health Channel, n.d., https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/work-related-stress
Cate Lemmond, “Why We All Need to Recharge: The Importance of Taking Time to Recharge to Prevent Burnout in the Workplace,” LinkedIn, February 26, 2021, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-we-all-need-recharge-importance-taking-time-prevent-cate-lemmond/
Ioana Lupu and Mayra Ruiz-Castro, “Work-life Balance Is A Cycle, Not An Achievement,” Harvard Business Review, January 29, 2021 https://hbr.org/2021/01/work-life-balance-is-a-cycle-not-an-achievement