Managing Stress While at Work

For many, managing stress while at work is a serious concern. We all have to work to make a living, but for some of us, work is much more stressful than for others. Fortunately, there are ways to manage your stress without letting your coworkers in on your anxiety. Check out these practical tips for managing stress in the workplace.

Keep the End Goal in Mind

Quite often, meetings can escalate into stressful events when someone in the group gets overly focused on their one piece of the puzzle. It’s easy for the entire group to follow this person’s lead, allowing insignificant (or relatively unimportant) concerns dominate a meeting. This leads to additional stress as the other people in the meeting feel their time is being wasted and their concerns go by the wayside and the one person’s issues become a point of debate. If you can emotionally withdraw from the meeting for a moment, evaluate the stressful issue at hand, and then bring yourself—and the group—back to the end goal or big picture, you can help a stressful meeting de-escalate. This will result in a less stressful meeting – for you, and for the group as a whole, which will benefit everyone.

Maintain Clear Goals and Boundaries

Another common stressor at work is the blurring of goals and boundaries. If you’ve got coworkers who dump their work on you or a boss who seems to have forgotten what your duties are, you may need to return to your written yearly goals and job description. Sometimes you can enforce these goals by quietly completing your assigned duties and ignoring duties that should not be your responsibility (just remind yourself: this is not my problem), but in most cases, you may have to have a talk with your manager to discuss the situation. You may want to begin the conversation by pulling out your job description or annual goals and asking your manager to detail out what he or she believes are your responsibilities, presenting the issue as “you wanting clarification on what exactly the job expectations are” and ending the conversation by comparing the written goals with what duties you’ve been performing. Ask for a written reconciliation of the two differing lists, and then request that your boss make these boundaries clear to your coworkers as well.

Solicit Help When You Need It

Nobody wants to be nark at work, but if a coworker is stressing you out (which affects your overall health) you may need to talk to a manager about some sort of separation or intervention. Think through what would be the best way to handle the situation, and then schedule a one-on-one with your boss or the HR representative to seek out peaceful solutions. Your long-term mental health is worth the one-time stress of calling attention to the situation.

Schedule Stressful Tasks Strategically

We all find different tasks more or less stressful, depending on our natural inclinations towards certain experiences or subjects. If you can identify which events or tasks stress you out the most and when you handle those tasks best, you can try to schedule those tasks accordingly. For example, if your boss if difficult to communicate with and your one-on-one meetings are stressful, you may want to schedule those for the end of the day instead of first thing (where the residual stress will linger, affecting the rest of your work day). Then you might want to plan a stress-relieving activity for immediately after that stressful task (for example, playing some pick up basketball with coworkers over lunch or going out for a run as soon as work is over).

Managing Workplace Stress Conclusions

While the simplest work stress-reducing plan might be to quit, it’s probably not the most practically viable solution. Try the strategies listed above and see if they don’t at least make your workday a little less stressful.

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