Tips for Stress Management at Work Place
15 May 2015
Experiencing some stress at workplace is normal but excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and impact your physical and emotional health. It is your ability to deal or cope with it that can mean the difference between success and failure.
First Step towards this is to understand what stress is, what its impact is and how it affects you:
Stress is your mind and body’s response or reaction to a real or imagined threat, event or change. The threat, events or changes are commonly called stressors.
Distress/ negative stress occurs when your level of stress is either too high or too low and your body and/or mind begins to respond negatively to the stressors
Is Stress Harmful?
Stress is not always harmful. Eustress or positive stress occurs when your level of stress is high enough to motivate you to move into action to get things accomplished. Moderate levels of stress may actually improve performance and efficiency. But when a person starts fearing or dreading a deadline, when the thought of what will happen at work or the thought of getting the work done (rather than action) takes more than 30-40% of your work time and 50% of your idle time, than it can be safely said that the stress levels you are experiencing are negative and can have a serious toll on your professional and personal life as well as can impact your health!
Strategies to Manage Stress Effectively
Now, that you have identified your signs and symptoms as well as sources of stress, question yourself as to what is it that you can change, for example can you change the aggressive nature of your boss? And the answer is no. If your coping style is maladaptive like wishful thinking or distracting yourself using nicotine or alcohol or excessive sleeping you may get temporary relief from the stressful situation however it does not address the source of stress or prevent you from getting stressed in future stressful situations. Using or learning to use an emotion focused as well as problem focused coping approach to your stressors may help you deal with them more effectively.
Identify the controllable and uncontrollable factors in that situation and work on the controllable factors using problem focused coping strategies like managing your attitudes and cognitions or breaking a tough project into smaller steps, seek guidance or help and boost your resources by indulging in effective time management, exercising and practicing relaxation.
For the uncontrollable factors say deadlines, a colleague’s behavior, use emotion focused strategies like cultivate compassion, express negative emotions in an appropriate manner and seek guidance, search for higher goals to pursue in your life like inner peace and building resilience towards other people's behaviors or uncontrollable situations.
This is a strategy often used by psychologists to help people work on their negative attitudes or thoughts.
Say your stressor is an approaching deadline and your thoughts about it are: “I’ll never finish in time, No one else can help me or I’ll lose my job”. The outcome of such thinking will be feeling anxious, nervous, disappointed, low self-esteem and even ill health.
Now practice saying out aloud for an approaching deadline “I have always completed my work on time, I can do it or I will find out someone to help me or its ok, I will deal with the consequences”. The outcome for such thoughts would surely be feeling positive, feelings of success, hope, productivity will increase and so will your resourcefulness.
Any exercise/activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat is a good way to lift up your mood, increase energy and focus, and relax both the mind and body. Try to get at least 30 minutes of heart-pounding activity on most days and you can break it into smaller segments say of 10/15 min each so as to fit in your busy schedule.
Eating small but frequent meals can help you maintain your energy levels as well as help you avoid binging. Also try and eat fresh fruits or nuts while at work as they refresh not just your body but also your mind.
Moderation is the key – Alcohol /nicotine/caffeine use
Even though your cigarettes or black coffee may be giving you that kick or the alcohol may seem to reduce anxiety and worry temporarily, too much of either of these can cause anxiety as its decreasing level in your body makes you want it more. It also affects your sleep as well as appetite negatively.
Are you in sleep debt?
Our body needs to maintain a healthy account of sleep. Too much or too less can cause a negative impact on your mind and body. It makes you more vulnerable to stress as well as can be a warning sign of many other physical or emotional disorders. Try and aim for 8 hours a night.
Get psycho-social support
Accepting support is not a sign of weakness, rather asking for it is the first step towards stress management. Connect with people at work. If there is a lack of adequate social support, seek professional help.
Reduce Work stress by
Prioritize tasks to be done in day/for a project
Chaining: Break projects into small steps on leading to another
Allocate and delegate responsibility
Be Emotionally Intelligent
Realize when you’re stressed and what can calm you.
Be mindful of your feelings/ emotional experience and connected thoughts and actions to avoid thinking and acting negatively
Learn to recognize nonverbal cues and body language and use them appropriately to stay connected and exchange positive feedback or communication.
Use positive conflict resolution strategies
Avoid the fallacy that you will have more time in the future than you have now: Make Self-Care a Priority!
At ePsyClinic.com, Asia's Largest Emotional, Mental & Professional wellness clinic, we can help you step by step in managing the negative stress that you may be experiencing at your work place!
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