Stress at work is a big problem. It affects all aspects of your life and not just your working life. If left unchecked it can impact on sleep, relationships, mental health, physical health and more. Work stress is one of the leading causes of absence from work.
If stress is a problem in your life, then it’s time to take action. What can you do to cope with work pressures and ensure they don’t have a negative impact on your health?
Recognize There is a Problem
The first step is to recognize there is a problem. Stress comes in many different guises, and it will affect different people in different ways. You may notice that you feel anxious or depressed. Other people may notice irritability or a lack of patience with others. There may be physical symptoms too, such as stomach upsets and headaches. Or you may be tired and finding it difficult to sleep. Whatever your symptoms, awareness is the first step to solving the problem.
Once you have recognized that you’re suffering from stress, try to work out the source. Is it one issue you’re struggling with? Do you feel overwhelmed with your workload? Do you feel you have received inadequate training for your role? Try to identify any problem areas.
Talking is good. It helps you clarify how you’re feeling and obtain input from another person. Is there a family member you can talk to, or a friend? Can you confide in your boss and ask him or her for assistance? Some businesses have Employee assistance programmes that are an excellent source of help and advice.
Plan and Organize
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, then planning and organization can help. Write down all of the tasks that you have to complete. Then allocate a time for each task. Don’t be too conservative with your estimates. Be realistic. If you’re working in an environment where you’re relying on other people to complete tasks, factor in ‘buffer time’. This is where you add additional time in case of delays.
Often when you list and organize tasks in this way, you figure out problem areas. It might be that there is just too much work for one person to complete in the time. In this instance it would be worth delegating, increasing timescales or speaking to your boss.
Don’t take on too much and learn how to say no.
Deal with Problems and Move On
Problems occur in all jobs and at all levels. This is a fact of life. Issues come up, and mistakes are made. If this happens, deal with the problem and move on. Try not to hold onto it and go over it in your mind. Let it go and move on.
Take Time Off
It’s hard to think about taking time off when you’re feeling stressed and under pressure. Unfortunately, many people’s reactions are to work harder. This rarely works and causes more problems in the long term. Taking regular breaks helps you to refresh and helps you to become more productive. Make sure you take your lunch break away from your desk and switch off from work for an hour.
If you find that you’re always staying late, work out a compromise. If working late is necessary then work late one or two nights a week. Make sure you leave on time for the rest of the week. Ensure you keep to this.
The important thing is to notice when there’s a problem and when you’re feeling stressed. Recognizing the warning signs will help you to take actions to combat this in the future. Take steps to identify the issues and try to resolve them. If this is not possible, then seek help.