Stress is intrinsic to the working world—don’t let it bring you down!
Unfortunately, I’m one of those anxious Kenyans. I’m easily stressed and, like many other people, I just have too much to do and not enough time to do it. With projects piling up, emails flooding my inbox, and an ever-growing to-do list, each morning leaves me overwhelmed and asking why there are only twenty-four hours in a day.
The truth is, stress is an unfortunate part of the working world. And while there’s good stress—a pressing deadline that motivates you to get the work done, for example—the bad stress has some seriously negative consequences.
You’re never going to be able to escape the stress of work, but there are ways you can cope with it without letting it bring you down. Try these tips to help you cope with stress at the office.
USE YOUR STRESS—DON’T RUN FROM IT
Stress is a natural reaction to whatever we view as a high-pressure situation. When it’s under control, you can actually benefit from stress.
Use it to push yourself to be better—beat that deadline you have by two days, strive to make your latest project even better than the last, or go out and ask for that promotion you know you deserve. You might feel a lot of stress from your job, but if you can channel it in a positive direction, you’ll be able to achieve so much more.
KNOW WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK
If you’re working eight hours a day, you need to take some breaks. That means stepping away from your desk for lunch—no working while eating—and going to the break room for a drink of water. Take a five-minute break every hour or so to get away from the work. Find a quick little task you can do that will get your mind off the stress or simply walk away from your desk.
HAVE A HOBBY
If you’re the type of go-getter who always needs something to do, taking breaks might be a little harder for you than for other people. In this case, having something small and non-work-related to do can help you de-stress without making you feel like you’re wasting time.
Try doing an origami a day, for example—the work is simple enough that you can complete most figures in five minutes, but you’ll still be engaged enough to feel productive.
MANAGE YOUR TIME
When you’re at the office, time management is essential. How you organize your work is all based on personal preference, but effective means of organization include daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists and prioritizing your work.
Figure out which responsibilities are important and which can wait until the next day. Good time management can be a big step towards lowering your stress.
EXERCISE DURING (AND OUTSIDE OF) WORK
Everyone knows there are plenty of benefits to daily exercise. One benefit is that exercise helps to reduce stress. If you’re stuck sitting at a desk for your entire day, you can use part of your lunch break to take a walk outside—in addition to the exercise, you’ll also be getting some sunlight and fresh air. Picking up a yoga class or heading to the gym before work will help keep your stress levels in check as well.
If you’re stuck sitting at a desk for your entire day, you can use part of your lunch break to take a walk outside…
MAKE FRIENDS AT WORK
There’s plenty of research to support the claim that having friends at work is good for you. Being friends with your coworkers gives you a built-in support system at the office.
That means you have someone to lean on when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, being friends with your coworkers means you can have someone to talk to when you need a break and someone who can help keep you in check when you’re working too hard.
When you’re feeling really stressed, remind yourself of the things that you enjoy about your job. Maybe you can reward yourself once your work is completed or when you achieve certain goals. Focusing on the positives will make the stress much more bearable.
KEEP A STRESS JOURNAL
Sometimes you just want to vent about your work and how overwhelmed you are, but there’s no one you can really talk to about it. Keeping a stress journal can help you in multiple ways.
First, it’s a good way for you to let off some steam without causing any drama. Additionally, you can keep track of what triggers your stress attacks—is there a specific event that constantly pushes you over the edge? Then, as you progress with your diary, you can mark down how you dealt with the stress, decide what methods worked better than others, and use your own notes for future reference.
LEAVE YOUR WORK AT WORK
There are inevitably some days where you feel like the work won’t end and, if you just take it home for the night, you might be able to catch up on everything by the end of the week.
Resist the urge to do this. It’s one thing to be busy at work, but you should keep your work separate from your home life. Limit your technology use when you’re at home—put the work phone away and don’t check that work email. Leave your work out of sight and out of mind to allow yourself some time to relax and recharge.
You’ll get the much-needed break from stress and a boost of productivity to help you get through your work when you’re back at the office.
Stress is a natural part of working. How you deal with the stress will be the deciding factor between enjoying your job or being miserable.