A whopping 80% of workers have reported feeling stressed at their jobs, with almost 50% noting they could use some help figuring out how to manage it in healthier ways. It’s a wonder that we don’t prioritize stress management in the workplace, with nearly a quarter of our population indicating their jobs as being the number one source of tension in their lives.
There are two different kinds of stress in the workplace, and the good news is that they’re both entirely manageable. The hardest part is identifying and understanding how to develop healthy coping mechanisms for each type, and then making necessary changes.
Building a Healthy Foundation First
The first category of stress is internal. Sometimes, it’s difficult to admit that much of life’s burdens are self imposed. Luckily, this is something that we have complete control over- making it the quickest, most accessible way to relieve stress.
For example, so many of us understand that exercise is pertinent for our physical health. But how often do we consider a day at the gym for anxiety relief? Some experts suggest that physical activity is just as crucial to our mental health and work performance as a good night’s sleep.
Similarly, foods that are high in fat and sugar are more likely to exasperate stress , as they drastically spike blood sugar and hormones. Diets that are rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables (as well as efficient water intake) are more likely to help us stay awake, steady, and focused throughout the work day. This means that packing our lunches and subbing out a bottle of water for our afternoon soda may be an essential way to reduce stress.
Arming our bodies with the necessary nutrients, sleep, and physical movement it needs to perform is essential. It allows us to build a firm foundation for the rest of our lives to stand upon when our jobs become mentally difficult.
Caring for ourselves also reminds us that we can only be at our best and most productive when we are honoring what we need first. This may mean setting aside some time for family and friends, hobbies, reading a book, or meditating- even when it feels indulgent. Nurturing activities such as these provide perspective, reminding us what’s important. They alleviate stress from a broader, more philosophical scope. Taking time to explore our values is a worthwhile act of self care that can be surprisingly effective
when coping with pressures at work.
Assessing and Adjusting to Your Environment
The second kind of workplace stress is external. After taking the time to create space in our personal lives for healthier mental and physical habits, it’s fair to begin assessing our workplace environments for factors that may be causing unnecessary stress.
One way to do this is asking ourselves honestly how we’re interacting with our team, coworkers, and superiors. Have we set reasonable boundaries and expectations for ourselves? Have we gone out of our way to build healthy relationships with our coworkers? Do we have unresolved conflicts with team members that we are avoiding?
In any of these situations, communication is a pertinent instrument in relieving social stressors at work. Unspoken issues, conflicts, or insecurities can create uncomfortable tension amongst team members. It’scrucial that we convey how we truly feel in a mature, non confrontational manner. This may include:
● Expressing that we do not feel appreciated
● Suggesting that our compensation is inadequate
● Voicing a concern about a coworker directly
Our choice to communicate at work is a choice to actively seek solutions. Whether the outcome is positive and leads to a more relaxed environment and conflict resolution, or negative (which can help us make a difficult choice to change our environment), forward movement like these help us feel “unstuck”, giving us back some of the control we may have felt we lost at work.
Whether we’re dealing with internal or external stress, the key is approaching both with the intention to change. It’s paramount that we are identifying the source of our stress, and then making adjustments accordingly. This will not always feel comfortable, but it is paramount to stress relief. Most importantly, we owe this work to ourselves.