Managing Work Stress: Strategies for a Healthier Workplace

Managing Work Stress: Strategies for a Healthier Workplace

Let's face it: work can be stressful. Whether it's due to an overflowing inbox or an overbearing boss, it happens to all of us at some point. But letting work stress take over your life? Not on our watch. We've rounded up some proven strategies to help you tackle stress head-on and bounce back stronger when work throws you a curveball. 
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Identifying work stress triggers

The reality is that stress from work is all too common.  According to a YouGov survey, about half of the workforce in Britain reports feeling stressed at work. Across the pond in the USA, 83% of workers experience work-related stress, with a quarter of them citing their job as their primary stressor.

So, what's got everyone so stressed out? A Gallup survey points to several key stressors:

  • Feeling unfairly treated at work 
  • Juggling more work than is manageable 
  • Getting vague directions from managers 
  • Feeling unsupported by leadership 
  • Racing against unrealistic deadlines

And that's not all. Other stressors might include dealing with tricky colleagues at work, trying to juggle your job and home life, worrying about job security, feeling like you're not getting paid enough, seeing few chances to move up or do more exciting work, feeling out of control, juggling too many tasks, not knowing exactly what's expected of you, an uncomfortable work environment, and dealing with all the chaos that comes with disorganization. Phew! That's quite the list of stress triggers to manage.

Sound familiar? You're not alone. So, the big question is, how do we dial down the stress at work?

Strategies to mitigate work stress

Addressing the root cause of stress is your first line of defense. While coping strategies are fantastic for temporary relief during peak stress times, chronic stress needs a more direct approach to prevent it from escalating.

Pinpoint your stressors

Start by pinpointing what's stressing you out at work. A good way to do this is by keeping a stress journal for a week, as it can reveal some recurring patterns. Maybe it's that daily morning call with your boss or your overflowing to-do list that sets your pulse racing. Recognizing these stress triggers is the first step toward making meaningful changes.

Communicate with your manager

You don't have to struggle in silence. If your workload is getting to be too much, talk to your manager. Keeping a detailed record of what's stressing you out can help in these talks, making it easier to work out solutions, like sharing the load or adjusting your duties.

But what if your boss is the reason you're stressed? Tackle that talk with honesty and have some ideas ready to make things better. And if things don't get better? It might be time to loop in HR or get advice from a colleague you trust. 

Enhance your time management

Sometimes, stress stems from how we manage our time. If you figure out when you're at your best during the day and plan your schedule around that, you can really boost your efficiency. Make a to-do list to get your priorities straight, and break big projects into smaller, manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Optimize your work environment

Believe it or not, your physical workspace can also be a source of stress. Wearing earplugs like Loop Engage can be a gamechanger for employees struggling to concentrate in the bustling environment of an open-plan office. They're designed to filter out noise without shutting out the world entirely, so you can still chat with colleagues without being distracted by noises around you.

When you're less caught up in distractions and can focus better, you get through your work more smoothly and efficiently. And guess what? You might just find that your stress levels start to go down.

Developing coping strategies for work stress

In addition to hitting stress right where it starts, picking up some coping strategies can really build up your resilience:

Take regular breaks

Just stepping away from your desk for a bit can really refresh your brain and help dial down the stress. 

It can be as simple as going for a walk around the block or grabbing a coffee with a co-worker. You could even hit the gym during lunch.

Seek a better work-life balance

Make sure to carve out time for the things outside of work that make you happy and set clear boundaries for when you work, so your job doesn't start eating into your personal life.

Off the clock – whether it's quality time with your family (the ones that don’t stress you out), picking up a new hobby or simply unwinding in front of the TV – prioritize creating moments to look forward to at the end of each day. This time is essential for you to relax and recharge.

Switch up your mindset

Using some techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can give you a whole new perspective on work challenges, turning stress into a chance for personal growth. 

Take self-monitoring as an example, where you keep a diary of what's going on in your head and your life. It’s a great way to spot what's really stressing you out and figure out how to deal with or avoid these stress triggers.

Lean on your support network

Don't face work stress alone. Lean on your co-workers, friends, family or whoever you feel most comfortable with for support and advice.

Whether it's your gym partner who's there to listen between sets, a book club buddy ready to chat over coffee, or your spouse at the dinner table, opening up about your work stress can make all the difference to your mental health.

Considering a job change due to stress?

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, a job is a major source of stress. If you've given it your all and your health is taking a hit, it might be time to think about making a change.It's not an easy decision, but your health and happiness come first.

Stress: It will get better

Whether you decide to stay in your current role and give these tips a shot or move on to less stressful pastures, remember that stress is manageable, and things can improve. 

We're confident that by applying these strategies for managing work stress, you'll find yourself on the path to a healthier, happier you, both in your professional life and beyond. 

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