Are you constantly anxious, irritable, tired, or down when you’re at work? If so, then you might be suffering from work-related stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, pressures such as high workloads; problems with co-workers, bosses, or customers; work-life imbalance; and a lack of job security are the primary sources of stress for U.S. adults. Fortunately, there are several practical things you can do to manage stress at work. Keep the following tips in mind:
1. Set realistic goals: Most of us want to perform well at work, but if you’re trying to do too much too fast to impress your manager or get ahead, you might be creating some of your own stress. Assess objectively whether you can slow down a little while still meeting your responsibilities. If you can, start giving yourself more time to complete tasks.
2. Practice time blocking: In his article “5 Tips to Help Managers Manage Stress,” Victor Lipman recommends setting aside a couple of hours during which you don’t schedule meetings, answer phone calls, or respond to messages. Having some uninterrupted time to concentrate without multitasking will allow you to get a lot of work done.
3. Leave work at work. One of the most important aspects of managing stress is striking a good work-life balance. Whether you work in an office or remotely, limit overtime, and try to leave professional concerns at work. If you find it challenging to transition out of professional mode, schedule activities that direct your attention elsewhere for when you get out of work. For example, you could take a spinning class, go for a walk with your dog, or meet up with a friend for lunch or dinner.
4. Take time to relax: On the evenings and weekends, take time to relax and do activities that you enjoy, whether that’s spending time outdoors, having fun with your family and friends, reading, listening to music, binge-watching your favorite show, or something else.
5. Look into holistic stress management. Many people find that holistic solutions and remedies help them effectively manage stress. For example, yoga and meditation can help you become calmer and more stress-resistant. In addition, according to Dorene Petersen’s article “Anxious or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help?” for the American College of Healthcare Sciences, essential oils of bergamot, lavender, frankincense, sage, and ylingylang (or blends containing these ingredients) can help boost your mood and reduce anxiety. You can add a couple of drops to a bath to make it more soothing or even use a small diffuser to create a relaxing environment. Note, however, that if you want to use a diffuser at work, you should always check with your co-workers first, since some people may be allergic, have respiratory conditions, or simply not like the scent.
Keep in mind that when left unaddressed, stress can wreak havoc on your professional and personal life—not to mention your health. So if it’s compromising your ability to function professionally and affecting your health, talk to your supervisor about reducing work-related stressors and consult with your primary care physician about other ways to manage stress.