5 Tips To Reduce Workplace Stress
GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE
We have all suffered stress in the workplace at one time or another. For some, it is something they struggle with every day, for others it may be a once off bout of stress during a busy working period etc. Either way, it is important for us to know what stress is, how it affects us individually and what we can do to reduce workplace stress.
It is important for us as employees and employers to be able to recognise workplace stress before it has an effect on health, well-being, and productivity. “Unfortunately, workplace stress does not just stay at work; it comes home with the employee and can have a detrimental effect on home life and relationships.” Stress can lead to a number of health issues for the individual:
- High blood pressure
- Auto immune diseases
- Heart disease
- Weight loss
- Stomach issues
Unfortunately, workplace stress does not just stay at work; it comes home with the employee and can have a detrimental effect on home life and relationships. I’m sure you would agree that this is not an acceptable way to live.
Common causes of workplace stress
It is critical to be able to recognise the common causes of stress at work so that you can take action to reduce stress levels where possible. Workplace stress can be caused by a number of factors, ranging from heavy workloads and over-promotion to bullying and a blame type culture.
Excessively high workloads
When an employee’s workload becomes so much that they just cannot get it all done, it causes a huge amount of stress. With a high workload and unrealistic deadlines, it can make employees feel rushed, under pressure and overwhelmed. With this amount of work, it can be very easy for an employee to make a mistake, which in turn will cause more stress!
We all need clear direction when we know what it is expected of us, and then we are more confident in our role. Weak and ineffective management can leave employees feeling like they have no direction. Over-management can cause employees to feel undervalued and can affect self-esteem.
Bullying or harassment
Bullying or harassment in the workplace can have a serious and very negative impact on an employee’s well-being. It can cause psychological and physiological damage. Employees affected by this can change from being happy, confident and in control at work to becoming isolated, depressed and insecure. In turn, it can lead to absenteeism and long-term sick leave.
Poor company culture
Every company culture differs slightly, but the important aspects should stay the same, no matter where you work. Working in a company that is based on fear and uncertainty will for sure end up with a stressed employee. For example, a blame culture within a company can make employees feel afraid to make a mistake or afraid to ask for help.
Concerns about job security
No job is 100% secure, we all know that, but as humans, we all need some sense of security. We can’t spend our time worrying about whether we will get paid; have our job next week or what career opportunities are there for us. Time spent worrying about these things is time that we are not fully focussed on our jobs. When we feel insecure, we begin to feel stressed.
The above are only a few examples of what can cause stress in the workplace. Different things will stress different people out and that’s ok, that is what makes us unique! For whatever reason you feel stressed, then that is your pain point, don’t compare it to others.
It is important to remember that you cannot control everything in your work environment, but that does not mean that you are powerless, even when you are in a tough situation. Whatever your goals or work demands, there are always steps that you can take to reduce workplace stress and protect yourself from the negative effects of stress. This will improve your work life and strengthen your well-being in and out of the workplace.
How to reduce workplace stress
1. Inform your manager
Let them know the cause of your stress. Ask for their help and guidance. Be honest and let them know what the issues are. If you don’t tell them, how can they help?
If you feel you can’t confide in your direct manager, find someone in authority or someone in HR that you can trust.
2. Find support in your co-workers
Ensuring you have a solid support system at work, can really help you when you are having a rough time. A problem shared is a problem halved! Confide in someone you trust, it’s great to talk things through and get things off your chest with someone who understands the company and the culture. Just make sure you do the same for them if they ever need it!
Sometimes talking to someone who used to work in the role you are in can be a great source of help and advice. You may find out that the role has always had a very heavy workload for example or that the manager was difficult to work with. Either way, having that knowledge will give you some confidence and guidance about what to do next.
3. Support your health and well-being
Eat right, get enough sleep and get some exercise. It’s amazing how different things look when you are feeling good about yourself. If you find it hard to switch off from work, try yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Mindfulness is a great stress reliever because it takes you out of fight or flight mode and brings you into a relaxed state of mental clarity and calm.
4. Track your stressors
Consider writing down the things/situations that create the most stress for you and how you respond. By recording your thoughts, feelings and what was happening at the time, how you reacted etc., you will be able to find patterns relating to your stress and find a way to manage them.
For example, when you were feeling stressed, how did you react? Did you walk away, take it out on someone else, raise your voice, make a coffee, go for a walk?
5. Set your boundaries
Living in a digital world, it is very easy for us to feel that we need to be available 24 hours a day. It is critical to set some work-life boundaries for yourself. It could mean making it a rule that you don’t check work emails after hours or not taking phone calls after a certain time.
By setting some clear boundaries between home life and work life, you are making sure that you separate the two and you will reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.