Even if you love your job, you’ll no doubt have plenty of days or even periods where you feel overwhelmed by what you have to do or the people you’re around. You might feel stressed about changes in the workplace or your industry or get a new boss who doesn’t communicate effectively.
Your salary level could worry you; you might start to find your work isn’t engaging enough, or you may realize you have few or no opportunities for growth or advancement. There are all sorts of reasons why your career can become overly challenging at times and lead to a high level of stress and anxiety. If you’re feeling worried on the job (and beyond it) frequently these days, here are some tips to feel better.
1 Look Out for Signs of Stress
Try to catch yourself when your stress levels are building up. Often we get caught out when we suddenly feel like a pressure cooker about to go off because we weren’t consciously aware of how much stress we were under. It’s much healthier to notice signs and symptoms so you can take steps ASAP to alleviate issues and prevent them from spiraling.
Signs of stress tend to be either physical or non-physical. Bodily symptoms can include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. You might notice increased muscle tension, fatigue, sleep disturbances, chest pain, excessive sweating, or even cold and flu-like problems. Some people find they breathe fast or shallowly or that their appetite and weight alters.
As for non-physical signs, these can include indecisiveness, lost confidence, memory issues, or lots of negative or racing thoughts. You could be overwhelmed with feelings of overwhelm, worry, guilt, anger, sadness, and more. Note when you feel physical or mental and emotional stress and try to understand why it happens. If you can spot what’s going on at work when the feelings arise, this will help you be more proactive at stopping problems from compounding.
2 Talk to Your Manager
If the stress is hitting you hard, talk to your manager about how you’re feeling and how it’s impacting you. Issues often occur because you’re under too much strain to meet expectations or handle more tasks than feasible. Leaders often don’t realize how much pressure they’re putting their employees under until it’s brought up.
Talk to your manager about ways to adjust your workload or schedule to improve things for you. They might have other workers handle some of the tasks or outsource select jobs to external contractors. Your job description may need restructuring, or you may require more time to complete each project.
While it can be uncomfortable having these conversations initially, business owners and other leaders would instead learn about what’s troubling you early on when they can take steps to fix things. This is better than having you quit unexpectedly or needing a lot of time off due to burnout.
Schedule regular meetings with your manager and, where appropriate, human resources team members and other colleagues update people on your progress and discuss setbacks. Some organizations provide access to free or discounted licensed online therapy sessions for staff members who need support, too. Also, some firms offer extra training and mentoring to help employees cope with their workloads.
3 Minimize Disruptions
Workplace stress can become a problem if you struggle to get your tasks done due to constant disruptions. You might have colleagues stopping by to chat or ask questions, meetings to get to, emails, phone calls, and more. All these things can take away hours from your weekly productive work time.
Look for ways to minimize interruptions. See if you must go to every meeting or if you can sit some out and set aside specific times each day to check your emails or messages and respond to them. Plus, teach others in your workplace that you’re only available to talk if your office door is open or you have a sign visible, etc. Solutions like this will help you claw back more good chunks of time to work distraction-free and have less stress on your plate as a result.
Some other top tips for handling workplace stress include:
- Eat nutritious options, don’t skip meals, and stay hydrated.
- Get enough sleep (seven hours on average is best).
- Do deep breathing or meditation when you can feel stress building up.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take time off, including a lunch break, weekend R&R, and annual vacations.
- Focus on time-management and organizational skills
Following one suggestion can make a difference to your mental and physical wellbeing, but incorporating multiple tips into your life can make a significant difference and help you stop workplace stress from ruling your life.