Whether you have your dream job or just a job to get by, you most likely face stress at work at times. Sometimes stress comes from deadlines, and sometimes it comes from the boredom of spending 40-plus hours in the same office every week, but either way, it can impact your health.
Without proper management, stress can lead to a bevy of ill health effects. The diversity of side effects is significant: sleep loss, weight gain, reduced libido, skin conditions, heartburn, and depression are just a few of the ways that workplace stress can pervade your life. So how can you keep the office from bringing you down? Try these strategies for reducing work-related stress.
Between emails, instant messages, and texting, it’s easy to be constantly bombarded by interruptions while at the office. If you work in a cubicle or open office setting, it’s even more challenging to stay focused during the workday. If you find your blood pressure rising every time a coworker pops her head in your office door, take measures to reduce the amount of interruptions in your workday.
- Create visual cues that it’s not a good time, like a closed door, headphones, or just the appearance of being super busy.
- Set instant messenger and email to the do-not-disturb setting.
- Establish set open office times and don’t respond to emails, phone calls, or drop-in requests outside of that window.
- When all else fails, cut off conversation. Let colleagues know you’re working toward a deadline or simply be as uninteresting as possible to end the chatter quickly.
While these strategies are helpful for minimizing interruptions, you should be sure to be friendly when you’re not swamped with work. Even if you’re not looking to make friends, cordial coworker relationships are an essential component of a pleasant workplace.
Eat Right and Sleep Well
Nearly everyone is guilty of relying on coffee to get through a long day, but a caffeine habit isn’t a strategy for long-term success. Instead, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night and practice good sleep hygiene to maximize the quality of your rest. Being well-rested improves your concentration and helps you deal with minor stresses and annoyances throughout your day.
Since a good night’s rest won’t get you far without a good diet to match, make sure you’re eating to maximize your energy throughout the day. Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins are excellent sources of lasting energy, whereas simple carbs as in breads, crackers, and pastries give you a short-term boost followed by a crash. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, too, because dehydration can lead to fatigue, which can make you irritable.
As your tasks stack up and deadlines approach, it’s only natural to feel stressed by everything on your plate. But when you let your workload stress you out, it only becomes harder to focus and stay on task. Instead of letting work get to you, take a step back and prioritize everything you need to accomplish.
Identify what must get done, and rank each item by both importance and urgency. Prioritize the tasks that are both important and urgent, and work down the list until you account for the not-so-important, not-so-urgent things. As you take on new projects, work them into your list where they belong, and try not to stress about the items that get pushed back. As long as they’re not pressing, they’re not going anywhere.
Most importantly, forget about perfectionism. If you try to do everything exactly how you wish it could be done, you’ll never reach the bottom of your list. Instead, tailor the amount of effort you give each project to its relative importance. That big account requires your best effort, but the email to your coworker probably doesn’t need to be perfectly crafted.Workplace stress is natural, but sometimes the stress isn’t worth it. If you’re dealing with hostility, discrimination, or harassment in the workplace, it’s time to look beyond coping strategies. However, if it’s the regular day-to-day that’s getting you down, these strategies can help you push through and find career success.
By Molly Anderson