Workplace stress is one of the most chronic conditions affecting the physical and mental health of employees worldwide. According to a report by the Health and Safety Executive, around 12.5 million working days are lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. In fact, the American Institute of Stress reports an overwhelming amount of 80% of workers feel stressed in the workplace while many are suffering from the mental and physical effects of stress. Regular migraines, weight gain or weight loss, cardiovascular problems are escalated when employees take on chronic workplace stress.
Although the statistics show a grim picture, reality is these figures can significantly go down if employees knew the art of managing stress and were given basic training in dealing with workplace stress. So what is an employee supposed to do when dealing with stress? Here are a few tips we got from experts.
1. Accept Stress as Part and Parcel of the Job
In a utopian world, we’d want to work in a place where there are no conflicts, no difficult people to manage, no bad bosses, no excessive workload and no politics. In the real world though, all these factors exist in some form or the other and you just have to come mentally prepared for it. Conflict is part of human nature, therefore, wherever there will be a large group of humans united to solve a problem or achieve a goal, there are bound to be problems. Hence, it is impractical to wish for the ideal culture and wish for everything to be chilled and relaxed. Stress is part and parcel of a job and the further you go in your career, the more challenging and stressful situations to face. The first step to managing stress then is to accept its presence in your life. Only when you accept it will you be able to effectively manage it. So if you’re worried about your boss, your workplace culture or your workload, understand that wherever you go, the same problems will exist. There is no, ‘perfect,’ organization.
2. Focus on the Resolution and Not on the Stress
Ok. So you’ve got a problem at work. You’re stressed because it affects your productivity and your motivation levels. What practical steps can you or should you take to make your situation better? The problem with the above mentioned 80% stressed employees is that they are not able to improve their situation and are fixated on the problem. When you constantly worry and focus on the problem, you’ll eventually become part of the problem. To release stress and to effectively manage it, you’ll need to come up with solutions. At any given time for any problem, all of us have three essential choices - get away from the situation, change the situation or accept the situation. You will have to find the right solution based on your life circumstances and experiences.
3. Take Practical Steps for Stress Relief
While you cannot completely eliminate stress, you can make it a lot better by learning how to manage it through a combination of stress relief activities. Yoga, exercise, kickboxing, walking, sports, anything at all to help you release the toll of the day. Find a relaxing therapy or an activity that works for you in helping you calm down the mind. For many people it could as simple as playing a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, for others it could be a colouring book or creating art. Instead of coming home and slumping on the couch watching movies or news that add more to the stress, relax your mind and find activities that bring you mental peace.
4. Make a Conscious Effort to Stay Away from Stressful Situations
Don’t see eye to eye with someone at work? Annoyed with office politics? While you can’t change people or stop them from gossiping, you can prevent yourself from becoming part of the drama. Remove yourself from conflicting situations, avoid gossips and keep a low profile. Making a conscious effort to stay away from stressful situations will help you remain focused on your job and also earn you a good reputation. When you stay positive, you’ll find your work life much easier to manage.
5. Remember there is Always a Way Out
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t improve and could even get worse. Problems like layoffs, stagnant sales etc are beyond one’s control and so stressing over them really does no good. If you ever feel that you may face such a situation, you should find a way out. Remember though that things are never that bad. It’s always how we perceive them and how we take them on that defines our success. Change what you can and if you feel like there’s no option left, start to plan your exit strategy.
Stress is part of our lives and although we can never stop worrying, we can always make a conscious effort to choose when to worry and how much to worry. We can choose to either be victims to our worries and our circumstances or be a warrior and fight our way out. Whichever way you choose will eventually determine the outcome of your life.