Stress is healthy for you. It’s your body’s natural way of telling you something isn’t going quite right, and that you need to cool off, calm down and slow your speed.
However, in unhealthy doses, stress is disastrous on the body. In fact, according to The American Institute of Stress, 120,000 Americans die from work-related stress each year.
Work-related stress is one of the biggest killers out there. After all, the average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime, which approximates to one third of your time here on Earth.
Rather than accepting stress, then, it’s important to find useful ways in which you can reduce it in your everyday life. In this blog, we share the 7 steps to help you reduce stress while at work.
1. Establish healthy workplace boundaries
It’s easy to say yes to too much work in an attempt to impress the higher ups. While striving towards new goals is important, it’s more important to know your limits.
Knowing when to confidently say no to more work than you can handle could save your life in the long term. It’ll reduce burnout, help you perform better in the work you do have to do, and help you work in a happier and more sustainable way. You can’t work 24 hours a day. Accept this.
2. Learn how to relax
Overwhelming feelings of ‘too much work’ can paralyse you during your downtime. Many people who are highly stressed at work will respond to emails on Sunday evenings, take phone calls during family dinners and even dream about work.
This is unhealthy. This is stressful. To mitigate against this, change your perspective on work and begin to realise that it’s a never-ending ‘thing’ we all do – there is no such thing as ‘completed’. As a result, many things we think are important now can in fact wait until tomorrow. Go back to your family, they need you and you need them. Work will always be there.
3. Acknowledge your workplace stressors
Many people who feel a heightened sense of workplace stress know that it exists, but they can’t put their finger on exactly what it is that gives them this feeling. It might be the unnecessary emails and mobile phone pings, or it might be sitting still for too long.
Whatever it is, it’s important to know what makes you tick while at work, and to begin to remedy against these. Do you have a big project to complete? Turn your mobile phone off to reduce your distraction. Is your back aching and causing you pain? Get up and go and walk. You’ll be better off for it in the long run.
4. Prioritise and organise
Those with poor organizational skills will feel stress more than those who keep on top of their to-do list. Falling behind at work never leads to positive feelings, so ensure that you prioritise and organise your workday to help you reduce your stress.
Some people like to make a to-do list at the end of their days so that when they return to work the next day, they know exactly what needs to be done. Others like to tick off smaller tasks (as Tim Ferris calls them – Scooby Snacks), and to use this motivational momentum to tackle the meatier projects. Find what works for you and be sure to keep organised.
5. Delegate the smaller tasks
You’re holding yourself (and others) back if you believe that, to do something well, it must be performed by you and you alone. After all, there’s more than one way to lead a horse to water.
Learn and practice the art of delegation to reduce the burden on your back, and free up your time so that you’re not always working in hyper gear. You don’t have to do everything, there are alternatives.
6. Perfection gets in the way of good enough
Nothing in this world is ever perfect. You aren’t, we aren’t, no one and nothing ever is. So, don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough.
Don’t get us wrong, you should be working hard and aiming for high standards, but high standards and perfection are completely different. Yes, you can always do better, but in the interest of efficiency, effectiveness and moving forward, ‘good enough’ is, well, good enough.
Here’s the takeaway: To reduce workplace stress, deliver your projects, learn from project feedback, and strive for better on the next one. For everyone’s sake, move on.
7. Talk to your supervisor
If you’re still struggling with stress at work, it might be time to approach your supervisor or boss and considering alternatives. Stress is a nasty and vicious malady and opening up about this problem with your peers is better than quietly drowning at your desk and constantly underperforming.
Speak with your supervisor and work to find a long-term solution to fix your stress. That might mean reducing responsibilities, reducing working hours or simply reprioritising your schedule. It might also mean time off and professional help but ultimately, it’ll mean a happier, more productive you.
Seeking treatment for workplace stress
Finding the right help for stress, then, is essential to getting well again. If your employer can’t help you, it might be time to take actionable steps yourself. After all, your health is more important priority in your life.