Healthy Ways to Handle Stress at Work
They say that the only two inevitabilities in life are death and taxes. While this may be true, there are a couple more that need to be added: Work will be work and there will be stress. Unfortunately these two often go hand-in-hand. An ideal job should be one that you enjoy and that is fulfilling — it shouldn’t be something you dread each day. But, with that said, at some point, even at a dream job, work will be tough and likely stressful.
Stress can have a number of negative side effects such as anxiety, headaches, change in appetite, fatigue, lack of motivation, sadness, depression, and more. Unfortunately, stress isn’t completely avoidable but it can be managed. There are a number of ways to both manage and reduce stress, especially as it relates to work, and it’s ultimately up to an individual to determine what helps them the most. Here are a few ways
Organize and prioritize
One of the most common times that work can cause stress is when there is just too much to do, or at least feels like there is too much to do. “Do more with less” is a common phrase used in the business world and often that means things piling up on your plate. The more that gets added, the more stressed you’ll be and the more you’ll just want to shut down. It can be a vicious cycle that feeds on itself.
One of the ways to fix this is to organize and prioritize. First, take a breath, and then look at (or list out) all of the things you have to do. It can be scary to look at all of it at once, but it is important. Once you have all your to-dos in one place, start to organize by importance: What needs to get done today? This week? What can be pushed to the back burner? By building your task list that way, you’ll have more manageable chunks of work to tackle. Start working through them and enjoy the catharsis of crossing them out as you complete them.
De-stress your mind
Both at work and outside of work you can find opportunities to de-stress your mind. At work, you can do things like keep your perfectionism in check and understand that it’s ok to make mistakes. Acknowledging and accepting this can keep you from ruminating on mistakes. Instead, understand what you did and what you need to do in the future to avoid it — then let it go.
Outside of work there are many way to de-stress. Some of these can be simple, like listening to music on the way home from work or taking some time to meditate. Activities like these are ways to clear your head and focus on something else besides the stress from your job. Another way would be to seek professional help. While this is more involved, there are times when seeking a mental health professional’s help is the best course of action.
De-stress your body
Recently among mental health professionals there has been a push for taking care of your body as well as your mind, a concept known as whole health. With that said, the one easiest ways to do this is with regular exercise. Physical activity releases chemicals that make you feel good and can reduce your stress. Go for a walk, go for a jog, go for a swim. It doesn’t have to be strenuous and an exhausting workout — certainly if that’s what you prefer, then go for it — but just something to get your body moving.
Additionally, your sleep habits can have a significant effect on your stress and mood. Lack of sleep can cause anxiety, depression, and make your more irritable. It’s important to let your body get enough rest, especially when you’re already stressed.
Avoid unhealthy behaviors
It can be easy to want to take a shortcut to feel better. So often this can be the use of illicit drugs and alcohol. And while alcohol can be a fun way to unwind after a long day or at happy hour with friends, too many Americans abuse it. Among working adults, illicit drug use and heavy alcohol consumption is far too common and industries such as construction, entertainment, and accommodations and food services are some of the most prone to substance abuse. Keep in mind that while these can provide temporary relief, they are not long term solutions. Drug abuse and alcoholism can ruin lives and can have serious negative health effects. In the end, it will just cause more stress in the end.
Overall, work is something can both bring great satisfaction and stress, even at a good job. There are many ways to deal with stress and to relieve it, both big and small. On the other hand, there are things you should not do, like turning to illicit drugs and drinking heavily. In the end, you need to take care of your body and your mind. Stress is something that we’ll all encounter, but it’s something we can all handle if we know what to do.