It’s an unfortunate statistic that 52% of Americans identify as unhappy at work, and stress can certainly play a big role in that sentiment. In fact, over 60% of employees claim they feel stressed at work three days a week or more.
The problem with stress, of course, is that it can impact not just your health but your performance. That’s why it pays to learn how to cope with work-related stress and find ways to keep it at bay. Here are a few tips that can help in this regard.
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1. Get your priorities straight
A big reason so many workers get stressed is that they feel they’re being pulled in so many different directions. But if you take some time at the start of each day or week to map out your most pressing tasks, you’ll have an easier time getting a handle on them. Decide how frequently you want to review your priorities, rank them from most to least urgent, and tackle them one by one. When less important items come up, put them aside until you’ve gone through your list. This way, if you do wind up with a task or two hanging over your head, you can rest easier knowing it’s not all that critical.
2. Create a schedule
Many workers struggle to manage their time, which can lead to more stress at the workplace. If your days are mostly unstructured, setting up a schedule might help keep your stress level to a minimum. Figure out when you’re scheduled for meetings or conference calls, and then decide what you’ll be doing with your remaining work hours to help ensure that you get the most done. This, in turn, should help you relax a little, especially once you see that you’re using your time well.
3. Learn to ignore your inbox
Like it or not, email is a part of life at the workplace. But that constant barrage of messages is enough to turn even the calmest of people into stressed-out versions of their usual selves. If you’re eager to ease some of that workplace tension, pledge to ignore your inbox while you’re busy doing other things, and carve out specific hours to read and reply to messages. Eliminating what’s probably your single greatest daily interruption could work wonders for your outlook.
4. Show up well rested
When you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, your anxiety level can quickly skyrocket. Yet job site Glassdoor reports that 74% of U.S. workers don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. If you’re trudging through your days in a perpetual state of exhaustion, it’s time to stop the madness and adjust your schedule so you’re getting the proper amount of shut-eye. That could mean going to bed earlier or making changes to your morning routine that allow you to sleep in and get out the door faster.
5. Take at least one substantial daily break
Many of us feel compelled to power through the workday without so much as a breath of fresh air. But while it’s noble to want to be as productive as possible, not taking a break could contribute to needless stress, thus setting you back instead. Rather than chain yourself to your desk for eight-hour stretches or more, work at least one substantial break into your schedule each day, and take a few smaller breaks as needed. If you typically bring in your own lunch, for example, and therefore don’t need to go out and buy it, take a walk instead. Stepping away and clearing your head could be just the thing to reduce your stress, allowing you to better concentrate when you are plugging away.
6. Enlist support from your colleagues and manager
Maybe you’re working on a high-profile project that has you worried, or you feel you’re up against too many deadlines to count. Rather than bottle that up, sit down with your manager and those colleagues you trust, and voice some of your concerns out loud. Your boss might have suggestions for better managing the various items on your plate, while your coworkers might jump in and offer to help. Either way, getting your concerns out in the open might help alleviate them to some degree.
7. Celebrate your accomplishments
A big reason so many of us get stressed at work is that we worry we’re not doing a good-enough job. That’s why it’s so important to acknowledge your personal wins as you go along. The next time you complete a task ahead of schedule or get praise from your boss, take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Having these small victories to celebrate can help push those negative thoughts — and the stress that comes with them — out of your brain.
Though it may be unrealistic to think you can avoid stress completely in the course of your job, it pays to take steps to reduce it to the greatest extent possible. Your career and well-being depend on it.