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How to manage workplace stress

Al Brown
Stress is one of the most common occupational health problems and the main reason for poor performance. As the workplace evolves and adapts to meet the demands of modern technology and the market, more and more employees are struggling to handle high pressure situations. In 2015/16 alone, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive estimate a total of 11.7 million working days were lost due to stress and that the condition was responsible for 37% of all work-related health cases. Such high figures suggest that learning to manage your stress is crucial, especially if you aspire to climb the career ladder and become successful.

Identify your stress triggers

It’s often the case that we find ourselves stressed by work but unable to pinpoint precisely what it is that’s stressing us out. Keeping a work diary, in which you record the details of your day and how you reacted to events, can be a good way of identifying the real causes of stress. By working out what’s triggering higher stress levels, you can then develop your own stress management techniques. 

Communicate upwards

In a functioning workplace, the office hierarchy is not designed to be a one way flow of information and orders. Managers and supervisors need feedback if they are to respond to problems or institute change.  Open and honest communication is key to ensuring the workplace remains a pleasant and productive environment for all. Those above you have a vested interest in safeguarding you’re not stressed or unhappy, as neither of these states make for productive employees. 

Manage your workload

One of the biggest contributors to stress is the pressure of too great workload. Learning when to say ‘no’ is an essential skill when it comes to minimising stress and making sure you don’t overextend yourself. Similarly, it’s important to set boundaries to separate your personal and professional lives. Modern communication technologies can make it seem like you’re on call 24 hours a day, contributing to a situation where it’s difficult to relax. By limiting the periods you’re willing to pick up the phone or check your emails, you establish firm boundaries that provide you with opportunities to unwind and disconnect. 

Don’t worry about things out of your control

Many of us have a tendency to concern ourselves with problems that we are not able to solve. Work can be stressful enough without worrying about issues that are above and beyond your control, so changing your mentality to focus only on those things you can affect can be a great help. Though this might be easier said than done, it can have a drastic impact on your levels of stress.

Take time to recharge

Finally, it’s absolutely vital that you give yourself time to recharge and re-energise. Many people can work under extreme stress for long periods of time but, eventually, it always catches up with us. To prevent burnout can result, you need to ensure you have time for peaceful reflection and participation in those hobbies and interests that are pleasurable, relaxing and offer some kind of release.

Read our related blog: Five advantages of having a mentor
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