Work-related stress is a mental strain many employees report dealing with regularly. Stress and anxiety are unavoidable aspects of everyday life, and they can be brought on for any number of reasons but especially due to work. The important question to ask is how are you handling these emotions? Putting in an effort to pay extra attention can be crucial, because if stressors go mismanaged, they can lead to much bigger problems.
When you consider the many different sources of tension employees handle daily, between handling tasks, effectively managing a team, hosting meetings, and the pressures of delivering results, it can feel like there’s just no time to consider personal concerns.
Whether your thoughts are overcrowding your daily schedule, or you keep putting off confronting them, consider these tips to better manage your stress and anxiety at work; making for a healthier, more productive career.
The first step towards managing stress and anxiety is to recognize your feelings. Author and emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman says, “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions […] then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Developing the skills to reflect and process your emotions as they happen can transform your work life.
Anytime you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try to work through it by writing it down. Take note of a number of things:
- How you’re feeling
- When the feelings came on
- What brought the feelings on
- How long the feelings lasted
Write down anything that can help you understand the source of this particular thought process. You’ll want to note the difference between feeling anxious and feeling stressed. Stress is a response to something external, and anxiety is an internal thought process that involves thinking in excess and judging one’s self. They are similar but different, and recognizing their nuances can help you to further understand the source of your feelings. As you’re evaluating, look for any emerging patterns in your behavior. The more you understand about yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, the stronger mechanisms you can develop to cope.
Communication is an important component of preventing, managing and relieving stress. Building positive relationships can lead to a strong work environment that is inviting and uplifting. This type of environment can alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, but when they arise these connections can also serve as a safe space for navigating them.
When you are having a difficult time, it can be beneficial to have someone in your workplace to talk to. They understand the workflow, the expectations, and the deadlines. They can provide their perspective and offer input on how to handle the situation. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for support and consider delegating work. Honesty with yourself and others about what you’re experiencing and how it’s affecting you will help you to create a more sustainable solution to any problems.
There are a plethora of daily tasks a given employee has to accomplish. Feeling like there are too many tasks on your plate can oftentimes lead you to feeling overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can quickly turn anxiety-inducing and debilitating without a proper plan of action. Successful business leader and CEO Robert F. Smith says, “Take the extra time to think about what we call the ‘engineered solution,’ which is more harmonious, continuous in its operation, and the output has fewer errors, as opposed to just forcing it through and hoping it’ll be okay on the other end.”
In your work, you have control over the ways in which you approach tasks, which can directly influence your state of mind. Some time management strategies and task organization methods that you can use to your advantage include writing down your to-do lists and organizing them by priority of each list item to help to make an optimal plan for the day. With each list item to be done, setting a timer that requires you to complete each activity in a certain time frame can help you to keep focus. Then, check off each list item as it is completed to help encourage positive feelings of accomplishment.
When feelings of stress and anxiety creep in, they can impact your ability to focus, complete tasks in full measure, and threaten your productivity and overall output. A powerful tool to combat those negative effects is the practice of mindfulness. Being mindful requires you to be completely present and focused on your given activity. It requires an effort to keep from getting distracted and ensures you don’t try to do too many things at once.
Another way to practice mindfulness is to fully tune in to your mental state. You can use the technique to change any negative thoughts that can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety, and turn them into more positive and constructive thinking.
Other healthy habits to practice include adopting a proper sleep schedule, drinking plenty of water, and trying to choose healthier food options whenever possible.
Regardless if your time off is a two week holiday, or one two-day weekend, the quality of your work-life balance can make a big impact on your mental state at work.
If your time away is riddled with status updates and random emails then you’re not allowing yourself the space to truly rest and recharge. If you allow your mind to be present and relaxed you’ll be able to appreciate other defining aspects of what life has to offer. This can create a more well-rounded sense of fulfillment in yourself. If work overruns your thoughts, even on your personal time, you’ll lead yourself down a path towards burnout.
During the work day, small breaks and lunchtime can change the trajectory of your day. Breaking up tasks with something as small as a quick walk around the office or a mid-day coffee break, can keep your work tasks from overrunning you.
Stress and anxiety are difficult to manage in everyday life, let alone on top of the pressures of the workplace. It’s essential to take care of your mental health to be able to perform your job successfully and lead a long, fulfilled life. Check in with yourself as a regular part of your daily schedule. Stay present and mindful in everything you do, and you’ll be unmatched in the clash against stress and anxiety.
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