Over the past year, our relationship with work has changed. Whether that’s having to adapt to remote working or taking on more work due to changes in business circumstances, we have dealt with significant pressure from our jobs. We’ve worked longer days with perpetual dread of the uncertain times hanging over us. Work-related stress can be significant to our health and now it’s more important than ever that we start taking care of ourselves, and remind ourselves of the value of a healthy work-life balance.
Even if you love your job, there can be aspects that are stressful. In the short-term, a pressure to meet a project deadline, fulfilling a challenging obligation or taking on extra responsibilities can soon become chronic. At Virtual Cabinet, we value a healthy work-life balance. That’s why we have created our guide on how to manage stress at work.
Work stress is common; however, the health implications can range from the benign (feeling under the weather) to potentially serious (like heart attacks or disease). From looking at the causes of work stress to signs of stress at work, we have included some helpful information on how to manage stress at work.
Causes and Management of Stress at Work
Firstly, it’s important to establish what is causing work-related stress. Some of the most common work stress causes include:
- Excessive workloads and tight deadlines.
- Lack of social support or lack of autonomy.
- Few opportunities for growth or advancement.
- Low salaries.
- Bad management practices or change in management.
- Job insecurity.
- Discrimination or harassment.
Issues with workload is usually the primary cause of work stress and managing stress at work can be difficult if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you’re struggling with your tasks, then try prioritising your workload for a more efficient way of working. Be realistic with the goals you set yourself, and then you can then reward yourself for achievements, no matter how small. If this doesn’t work, then speak to your manager or a work colleague that you can trust about your workload and see if it can be reduced or delegated to another member of the team.
With remote working and lengthening workdays, the increasing amount of communication we receive from work can be making us stressed. Work emails are now on our personal phones and, with a lack of boundaries, communication can be sent during the evenings and weekends, making it difficult for people to switch off. If overwhelming communication is causing your work stress, then delete work emails off your personal phone, or set your work phone to silent after you have finished for the day.
Once you have discovered what is causing your work stress, then it’s time to act on it. Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t disappear when you get home and uncontrolled stress can cause further problems during your personal time. Maybe friends and family have noticed that you’re not acting yourself and have become withdrawn, irritable, and tired? Chronic stress can also cause anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and heart disease, so it is important that you learn how to manage stress at work.
Signs of Stress At Work
Stress affects people in different ways, so it’s important that you know your own body and can recognise when you’re not feeling your best. There are many signs of stress at work, including psychological, behavioural and physical symptoms.
- Increase in sick days
- Drop in performance
- Mood swings
- Diminished creativity
- Sleeping difficulties
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tension
If you spot these symptoms in yourself or a work colleague, then it’s time to take a break and re-evaluate. It is important to take care of yourself and learning how to manage work stress is vital for a healthy lifestyle. If you have any of these symptoms and are worried about them, book an appointment with your local GP.
Tips for Managing Stress at Work
Though it would be much easier to find a new job or change your circumstances, unfortunately this is very unlikely. Therefore, it is essential that you learn how to manage work stress and learn to live with your work-related stress until you can change your circumstances or your workload lessens. We have collected a few of our favourite tips for managing stress at work.
The human body isn’t designed to cope with information overload. It’s easy to feel pressured to be ‘switched on’ for all hours, but being available at any time can be more detrimental to your work life.
- Do not send emails or respond to messages after the end of your work day.
- Speak to your boss about establishing an out-of-hours communication policy.
- Set up a work management system.
- Be honest with your manager about workload.
Healthy coping mechanisms
When we’re experiencing work-related stress, it’s easy to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. Reaching for alcohol, unhealthy or fast foods, or smoking can cause more damage to your body that is already struggling with the signs of stress at work.
- Set aside time for exercise, such as yoga, walking the dog or jogging around the park with friends.
- Make time for a hobby or find a new one.
- Build healthy sleep habits by limiting caffeine and reducing screen time.
Connect with people
When we isolate ourselves and keep our problems inside, it can make work stress infinitely worse. Reach out to those around you.
- Speak with a trusted work colleague about how you’re feeling.
- Discuss your work stress with a professional, such as counsellor.
- Make time for friends and family.
- Take some time off to refresh.
- Stay away from conflict.
Those are our strategies on how to manage stress at work. Struggling to keep up with all the different channels of communication? Then maybe consider investing in work management software that will help you keep all work relationships and communication in one place. Fancy trying it out for yourself? Book a free demo online today.