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Workplace stress is a serious subject that affects everyone. According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, more than one third of American workers experience chronic work stress. The truth of the matter is that we are not invincible. We burn out. We get sick. We are vulnerable. What does this mean for you? Well, all this stress at work can have serious consequences for your overall quality of life. So how does one deal with stress properly? Here are some ways to diagnose and cope with unhealthy levels of stress from the workplace:
Diagnosis: Stress is responsible for 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s office visits. In other words, stress shouldn't be ignored. Here are some common symptoms of job stress and burnout:
Apathy, loss of interest in work, low morale, boredom
Feeling anxious, irritable, depressed, negative or cynical
Frustration, trouble concentrating
Alienation/ social withdrawal, absenteeism
Physical problems (headaches, stomach problems, fatigue, muscle tension
Using alcohol, medication or drugs to cope
Causes: Knowing what causes these symptoms is cruical to dealing with stress. Some common workplace stressors include:
Fear of being laid off
Few opportunities for growth or advancement or work that isn't engaging or challenging.
Excessive workloads or pressure to perform at optimum levels—at all times
Not having enough control over job-related decisions.
Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations.
Here are some tips for dealing with the stress from your job:
Form healthy habits:
Instead of dealing with stress by grabbing a bag of chips or a bottle of tequlia, do your best to make healthy choices when you feel the tension rise. Having a healthy diet transcends just your physical state but makes its way into promoting a healthy mind and lifestyle. Avoid fatty foods that slow you down, drinking caffeine at night which stops your from having the best sleep possible, alcohol which acts as a barbituate and
Exercise is also a great stress-reliever. Any form of physical activity is beneficial (especially stress busters like yoga and meditation!).
Make time for hobbies and favorite activities.
Build healthy sleep habits
Get time away:
No job is more important than your health. If you feel the stress building, take a break.
Walk away from the situation (literally and figuratively)
Exercise or meditate
Listen to music! Sometimes a simple tune can turn your mood around, inspire you and melt away some of that stress. Nowadays, music playlists can be customized so start creating your work escape playlist right now!
It's critical that you disconnect from time to time (take a break from staring at the computer and try coloring, drinking a nice cup of tea or something else relaxing!)
Don't let your vacation days go to waste. If necessary and when possible, take time off to relax and unwind.
Organize your life:
Taking the time to organize your desk or workspace can help ease the sense of losing control that comes from too much clutter.
Keep a checklist of things you need to get done. This can help you from feeling too overwhelmed.
Create a balanced schedule. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime. When you are at work, make sure you take a couple short breaks to recharge and be more, not less, productive
Prioritize tasks. Tackle high-priority tasks first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
Talk it out:
Sometimes the best stress-reducer is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you.
Talk to your supervisor. Healthy employees are typically more productive, so your boss has an incentive to create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor.
Talk with coworkers. Just knowing you have one or more co-workers who are willing to assist you in times of stress will reduce your stress level. Just remember to reciprocate and help them when they are in need.
Nobody is perfect:
Resist perfectionism. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself, you’re setting yourself up to fall short. Aim to do your best, no one can ask for more than that.
Flip your negative thinking. Try to think positively about your work, avoid negative-thinking co-workers, and pat yourself on the back about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things at work are beyond our control—particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With Job Stress
I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again. Your health is everything. You need to take care of yourself first. If you are feeling so stressed at work that you cannot do so, then there is a serious problem. Take control of your situation — and fix it. No matter what you do for a living, or how stressful your job is, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your overall stress levels and regain a sense of control at work.