According to The American Institute of Stress, our jobs cause the biggest stress in our lives. It can show up as yelling at co-workers, damage to property or machinery, or harm to our personal health.
Simply ignoring the signs isn’t the answer. Try these five tips for managing everyday work stress:
1. Learn how to say “no.” Some of the biggest stresses can be the ones we create by always saying “yes” to every request. It’s better to say no every once in a while and deliver better quality work on time than to say yes to everything and deliver subpar work only occasionally on time. Check out “The Power of a Positive No” by William Ury for tips on how to craft a no response.
2. Understand your stressors and how you react to stress. Everyone has their own stress points and each of us reacts to stress differently. Becoming aware of your stressors can help you recognize when you need to find ways to destress — and avoid a situation where your stress gets the best of you.
3. Take lunch and breaks. And days off. And vacation. It can be tempting to stay late, come in early, and power through your days off to get through a mountain of work. However, sometimes just stepping away from a stressful situation can provide relief. It can also provide perspective. Take your time off. After all, you’ve earned it.
4. Practice self-care. There will be times when you have to actively manage your stress. Saying “no” may not be an option. Or taking a day off. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any options for stress relief. Think about whether there are very quick things you can do, such as listening to your favorite song, grabbing your favorite beverage, or reading your favorite book.
5. Talk to your supervisor. If the work-related stress doesn’t seem to go away no matter what, consider having a conversation with your supervisor. Your boss might be able to set new priorities or reassign the work. In all fairness to them, your manager might not be aware of the full amount of your stress until you mention it.
Bonus tip: Use technology strategically. Technology is often considered the cause of much of our stress, but could it also be a stress reliever? Download a gratitude journal app. Listen to your favorite podcast. Or start using an app like Forest that rewards you with a virtual forest when you step away from your devices.
One last thing: If you find that you’re doing all these things and the stresses in your life continue to be overwhelming, consider seeking outside professional assistance. Check your health insurance plan documents to see if options are available. Find out if your organization has an employee assistance program. Look for community resources that might be able to help. Stress is serious and taking care of your mental health is always important.