No matter how diverse the industries we find ourselves working in, one thing is constant, and that is: stress. This dreaded experience not only comes and goes without warning, consistent inaction can also lead to serious burnouts-- ones where we are rendered bedridden and immobile for days.
Nobody likes being stressed. This particular pressure is, most of the time, counterproductive, and adds an uncomfortable strain to our well-being, sometimes leading to health problems down the line. We tend to think, “As long as I get my work done, I’ll be okay.” Work, however, will always continue to pile up, and unsurprisingly, your stress levels will do the same.
So how can one manage stress?
It’s all a matter of changing your approach, from mindset to action. In this article, we’ve listed down a couple of valuable paths to take in order to reel yourself back to your stress-free self.
Know Your Stressors
The first thing to do is to take a step back and think about what exactly stresses you out-- what experiences trigger an alarm in your system that keeps you anxious and restless? List them down.
Studying your situation is the best way to keep yourself one step ahead of it. Now that you have a list, you can create countermeasures or compromises that can help you avoid, if not, lessen the pressure and burden you feel at work.
Focus On The Positives
Such advice may be tarnished by its constant repetition, but if you can overlook its cliche exterior, you will be able to find value. You can start with the simple exercise of recalling up to five things you were grateful for that happened during the day. There are some studies that show that regularly and consciously exercising gratitude minimizes stress and increases general contentment by a significant amount.
Another way to begin focusing on the positives is to practice distancing yourself from your initial judgments. For example, instantly thinking that your co-worker is angry at you because you accidentally bumped into them this morning is an unhealthy conclusion. Try observing your own immediate judgments, try to think about why that was your first thought, and then try focusing on a better version. Keeping a negative lens on all the time may be a huge cause of stress, especially in the workplace.
Manage Your Time And Energy
Perfectionism is one of the leading causes of stress and eventual burnout among us working folk, and it’s easy to see why. It is only common for most people to want to do great at their jobs-- the problem is, we each have limited resources, and those are both time and energy. What this means is, we cannot give our 100% to every task given to us, because our energy depletes by the minute.
It is when we try to go beyond our boundaries that we tend to dwindle into the burnout danger zone. Of course, pushing our limits isn’t all that bad. The danger lies in its frequency; if it is done on a regular basis, eventually your body and mind will not be able to keep up, and you will regret not listening to the warning signs.
So, the best solution is to try to manage both your time and your energy. Allot the proper resources for each task. If you really want to channel your perfectionism, you can choose one to two tasks you can focus all your energies on, while simply accomplishing the rest without much pizzaz. After all, sometimes tasks are better done than perfect.
Re-evaluate Your Tasks
Unclear and misunderstood tasks are also top contributors to stress. To avoid this, try to ask questions whenever tasks are assigned until everything is clear.
Some giant tasks can also be quite daunting at first sight, and these first impressions are also contributors to the piling up stress at work. If a task can be split up, split it. Try to make them as small as possible before starting.
Once you’ve broken down all your giant tasks, the quantity of to-dos might now be the daunting one. If you find yourself fazed with the number of tasks you have to accomplish, try to limit your focus to one task each. Take away any other to-do lists, applications, or windows that may be related to future tasks on your list, and just focus on the single one you chose to start with. You will find that it is much easier to work with this kind of flow than with the chaos of having to do everything at the same time. Science also shows that context-switching is more taxing for the mind compared to sticking to one action, so it is best to choose the method that will keep your well-being less strained in the long run.
Keep Yourself Fit and Healthy
Adjustments in your lifestyle will also benefit you greatly. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep are the simplest ways to feel less stressed and regain more energy. Exercise-- even simply taking 15-minute walks-- will keep your mind and body balanced, as well, and will perk you up noticeably. Practicing different breathing techniques also helps fight stress, as it can help you meditate and take your thoughts away from the chaos. Such lifestyle changes will not only keep you healthy, but it will help you respond to work and stress better than before.
Take a Break
Sometimes, we reach a point where mentally removing ourselves from the situation cannot help us anymore. This is why taking physical breaks is necessary. If you are prone to work stress, try spending your lunch breaks away from places that remind you of work. Take a short walk. Try to find a viable hobby you can do within these tiny moments of peace. These little windows of zen are crucial for you to stay on top of your game at work, stress-free.
When you feel like you’re on the verge of a burnout, however, it’s best to take a long break. A two-week vacation (or more) will rejuvenate your spirit-- as long as you spend it in a stress-free environment, of course. Make the ample preparations to keep yourself pampered and relaxed. Bringing work to your v-day is a huge no-no, of course! Oh, and don’t feel guilty about missing work for too long. If you care a lot about your job, you should try to think about it like this: treating your physical and mental health with the utmost importance is the key to unlocking your potential to provide higher quality work.