Let’s face it – work can be tough. For most people, the working week takes up nearly half of their waking hours, and that doesn’t even include the commute. Balancing work, family and social life can often leave people feeling burned out which prevents them from relaxing and enjoying the very little downtime they have. When you have a lot on at work, and when you, like most people, really care about doing well and advancing in your career, it can be easy for your work to take up all of your thoughts and energy. It’s no surprise then that often the first step to tackling general stress is to relieve stress at work. While episodes of stress or high pressure are to be expected in any job, long term episodes of worry and unrest should not be part and parcel of your working life. Employees can often feel powerless if they are stressed at work – the feeling of not wanting to make a fuss or stand out from the crowd can prevent them from reaching out to superiors for help. But there are a number of steps you can take if you feel stressed at work, ranging from simple changes to raising issues with your employer.
Be clear on your role
It’s really important at work that you have a clear knowledge of your job role and the responsibilities associated with it. Ambiguity around what you should be doing on a day to day basis can lend to you taking on far more work than you are being paid for, and despite the fact that it shows great initiative to do more, and no doubt your hard work will be noted, if your workload has grown out of control and it is leading to stress, you need to do something about it. Most job roles should have an associated specification that details the key responsibilities and jobs that the post holder should be taking on. If this is something you do not have access to, consider speaking to your line manager to discuss your concerns about your workload and clarify what exactly you need to be taking care of.
Do one thing at a time
When the pressure is on and deadlines are looming, it can often feel more psychologically comforting to have a number of jobs on the go at once. It tricks you into thinking you’ve accomplished more when in reality you’re juggling more and more plates of unfinished projects on a daily basis and are no closer to finishing anything. If you have a number of tasks to complete in a certain time frame, order them by importance and finish one task before you move on to the next. You will feel a significantly higher sense of achievement at totally finishing your task which will buoy you to continue on with the rest. Focusing all your attention and energy on one task at a time will reduce your opportunity to stress overall, and employing this technique throughout your life and building it as a habit will help you to continue to keep your stress levels low.
Personalise your workspace
Working at a bland, personality vacuum of a desk, cubicle or office will do nothing good for anyone’s mood. When you’re tired and grumpy on a Monday morning, being greeted by varying shades of grey as the first moment of your work day is unlikely to get your week off to a flying start. While a number of companies are introducing ‘clean desk’ policies, often in support of a wider paperless office initiative, which often prevents employees from personalising their workspace, if you have the opportunity to do so you should definitely consider it! Imagine instead of a wall of bland you’re greeted every day by a nice plant perhaps, or photos of loved ones, a nice pillow or lights over your computer desk. Just examples, but you get the idea – if you can personalise your workspace, it feels much more like your space, which will inevitably make you feel more comfortable and laid back!
9-5 workers, especially in winter, can go for days on end without seeing the sun. With so many workplaces offering fantastic catering facilities, the temptation to sit at your desk during your lunch hour can be high, after all, you’ve only got to come back for the afternoon anyway, why go out? Both exercise and sunlight are well known for their mood improving abilities, so a great way to help combat stress at work is to go for a lunchtime walk. Stretching your legs after a full morning sat at a desk will feel wonderful, and regularly walking on your lunch break could even help you get into better shape. If you’ve had a stressful morning, a lunchtime walk will help you to quiet your mind and forget about the morning’s worries and start fresh for the afternoon. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, it will really help!