The effects of work-related stress don’t just stay in the workplace. The consequences of this type of stress can cause major health concerns for those who experience it and unfortunately, this is not an uncommon issue. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Washington, D.C., about 40 percent of people who hold jobs report that their work is “very” or “extremely” stressful.
Some degree of pressure can be good in the workplace at times: it can keep employees on track, motivated, and productive. However, the side effects of long-term workplace stress can contribute to conditions such as headaches, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, and exhaustion. These issues prevent employees from reaching their potential at work and can take a toll on business productivity. To gauge the scope of the problem, according to the American Psychology Association, the result of decreased productivity and absenteeism due workplace stress costs U.S. businesses roughly $300 billion a year.
Many of the most common workplace stressors have to do with heavy workloads, long work days, deadlines, and the frustrations associated with working environments. Therefore, it’s important to figure out healthy ways to handle these types of stressors. Here are a few simple ways you can combat work-related stress both in the workplace and at home:
Give yourself time to unplug
If you are constantly being bombarded by emails and calls from your boss and clients even when you’re not in the office, you’re never going to be able to take a mental breather from work. Give yourself time to decompress and get your mind off of your job. You can start by turning off your phone an hour before you go to sleep at night, only checking emails on weekdays, and making sure to spend uninterrupted time with friends and family when you can.
Make weekly and daily goals lists that are attainable
Sometimes, just the act of writing down things you need to accomplish helps put your mind at ease. One way to deal with the constant stress of work is taking the time to sit down and map out what you should be prioritizing for the week. These should be important, but attainable goals that you can reach. This way you organize, both on paper and in your mind, what needs to be done and can clearly see the steps that need to be taken to get there. Once your big picture (weekly) goals are set, you can plan what actions you will take to help reach them today.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification
If your supervisor isn’t being exactly clear on what he or she wants from you and the lack of clarity is adding extra stress on your plate, think about the ways in which you can actively address this. Shooting a quick email to your supervisor or setting up a meeting to ask for clarification and support could help reduce hours of confusion and frustration. Don’t be afraid of asking questions; your supervisor wants you to be efficient and successful.
Declutter your workspace
The state of your work environment can severely affect your mood. You want your workspace to be clean, functional, and relaxing. Keep only what you need. Get rid of that stack of papers that are cluttering your desk and consider going paperless. Using online tools like Google Docs, email, e-signature platforms, and even e-sticky notes will make both your desk and your life more organized (and less stressful).
Physical activity is important for both mind and body. It helps release stress and produces mood-boosting endorphins. Whether it’s going on runs, hitting the gym, practicing yoga, or even getting up and going for a quick walk when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, getting your body moving will help relax your brain and relieve stress.
Talk to a friend
Getting your stress off your chest and leaning on a friend or family member for support will help you manage your frustrations. It is extremely healthy to talk about things that are bothering you or weighing on you instead of bottling up the issues. The release of pressure, along with the support and external perspectives given by loved ones, can help you see possible solutions you hadn’t thought of on your own.
Stress can have toxic effects on the body and mind. Learning ways to effectively deal with work-related stress will not only improve your work performance, but also quality of your life. Listen to your body and find the ways in which you can best relieve your stress.