Imagine going up to someone and telling them, “I am really stressed at work. I have no idea what to do”, only for them to respond indifferently. They say, “Oh! You’re stressed at work? That is not a big deal. We are all stressed at work. That’s how it is.” How does that make you feel?
Over the years, we have largely normalized the idea of being stressed by our jobs. We have accepted that it is normal for us to deal with stress at the workplace. That work is supposed to be so stressful that it doesn’t occur to us to take some time off or find ways to deal with that stress.
This stress may come to us, from many sources and there may be times when it simply feels like it isn’t decreasing. However, this perception has been changing lately, especially with the younger generations.
Young people have started understanding the importance of mental health, and are driven to look for jobs that bring them joy and not just for paying the bills.
Stress at the workplace is inevitable. But you don’t have to push yourself to your breaking point just to get through it. Here are some techniques to help you deal with stress at the workplace in a healthy and informed manner.
1. Learn about your stress
Sometimes, stress at work doesn’t mean that you are unhappy with the job. There can be a number of possible stressors that could be causing stressful responses in you.
Working to deal with your stress without identifying the exact cause is like trying to fix a leak without knowing if it is due to excess water pressure or corrosion or broken seals. So the first step in dealing with stress is to learn about the situation that is causing the stress.
Some potential stressors include an insensitive supervisor, excessive workload, hostile work environment, discrimination at the workplace, or insufficient salary.
Could any of these be causing stress in you? Reflect on this and identify the specific problem. It could even be a combination of a few factors. Consider all of this and then come up with viable solutions. Pick the best one from it.
After identifying your stressor, take it up with it directly. Be it a person or a situation that’s causing the stress, deal with it directly so as to weaken it.
Whatever your concern, raise it. If it’s your superior, talk to them. If it’s a colleague causing stress, confront them. Either way, find a way to address your stressor directly and sort it out.
2. Let your emotions out
A common consequence of being stressed is an urge to bottle all your emotions. You may find yourself doing this increasingly like an attempt at remaining calm and composed.
But by doing so, you are not fooling anyone as your distress will remain the same, or even have worsened.
If you are feeling stressed and have a lot on your mind, talk it out. If you want to scream, go to a safe and deserted place and scream it out. If you feel like crying, do so.
Giving your emotions an outlet is very healthy. It is better to have ten tiny explosions time and again than to have one huge, alarming implosion.
3. Put your health above all
Remember that your work is not the most important thing. It does not have to be put above everything else, not above your family, not above your health. Always put your health first and prioritize your well-being.
Your body and your mind are constantly reacting to your surroundings and are offering you cues. Pick up on them and act mindfully, keeping your health in consideration.
There is no point in working till you burn out. Make sure to enjoy the journey as you go.
4. You are allowed to take a break or even quit
If you are in a job that you do not like or at a workplace that does not make you feel well, you do not have to continue sticking to it. Don’t be apologetic and just do nothing.
Take charge instead and look for other places. If the stress amounts to something unbearable, remember quitting a job that you don’t like is not the end of the world.
You may feel like you are perhaps too old to quit and restart your career, but it’s never too late. You are allowed to try out things that make you happy and see how they work out.
Even if it is a job that you love, you may be faced with stress occasionally. In that case, offer yourself a break that you deserve. Force yourself to take one, and only then, return to work. Taking a break clears your mind and can boost your performance afterward.
5. Try exercising or meditation
The most effective way to deal with stress in the long term is to bring in changes to your lifestyle. Pick up habits and inculcate practices that offer you solace and that promote the betterment of your health.
Include jogging in your schedule or yoga. Yoga can be very relaxing and has benefits for both your mind as well as the body.
Meditating also has a similar calming effect and can, over time, change how you deal with stressors for the better. If you are new to the practice of meditation and are not sure where to start, the LiveLifeApp has got you.
Try installing the app and get into meditation as the app guides you through every step.
6. 3 most common stressors and specific ways to deal with them
- Work demand: The first one is the stress you face from increasing demand in work. The workplace may start demanding more from you gradually and you may find this difficult to deal with. When this happens, don’t constantly keep overloading yourself. One, the first step is to break down your tasks so as to make them simple to deal with. This can reduce the huge amount of stress that a pile of unfinished work can bring on. Categorize your tasks on the basis of importance and urgency and get to the most important and most urgent ones first. Two, don’t just keep making plans to execute. Go ahead and start implementing them. Three, if you feel intimidated by any advancements that are taking place, do not feel bad. It is okay to be new to something. What is not okay, is to quit instead of trying to learn. Ask for help if you need it. Take your time and learn patiently. Challenge yourself accordingly, keeping in mind your abilities and shortcomings.
- Work environment: The second stressor is the workplace environment. Try and keep putting efforts to turn your surroundings into something that you can look forward to. Build rapport with your colleagues and become friends with them. Share personal connections. Get to know them and also open up to them. Treat all your colleagues with respect and kindness. Include a tiny part of something that you like into your workday routine. For example, if you like eating ice cream after lunch, make it a routine with your friends at work. You could also keep a plant by your side and nourish it. This can offer you some quiet company.
- Healthy balance: The third and a difficult stressor is maintaining a healthy balance between work and family. Sometimes, you may find yourself in situations where you are consumed by work that you don’t have time to interact with your kids. At such times, remember that you are an equally important member of your family. You need to be there for them, too. Try your best to stick to schedule and time limits. Do not push your work outside of its assigned period. Make it a point to have family traditions and follow them regularly. Another helpful key is to learn to say no. Think of this the next time your boss is requesting you to work overtime. Be assertive about what you want and remember to say no. There’s nothing wrong with it.
How we feel about our job and our workplace is so crucial for our wellness as we spend the major part of our lives being employed and working.
Your job shouldn’t be something that you have to do, but something that you want to do. Some amount of stress can indeed be beneficial. This is known as eustress and it can push you to stick to deadlines and meet expectations.
The problem arises when your eustress escalates to become distressed. For so long, you may have been under the impression that no matter the amount of stress your work brings to you, you are going to have to stay and suffer.
Regardless of the stressors, you have no choice but to clench your teeth and take it on. If so, think again. Remember that your well-being is all that matters in the end. You deserve to do what you love to do. Keep that in mind.