Coping With Stress at Work

At its core, stress is nothing more than a response of the body to any demand – it usually isn’t about the situation itself. What causes this reaction? It tends to show up when you find yourself with a lot on your plate. Maybe you’re short on time or maybe you’re dealing with something that you’ve never dealt with before. You might feel like you’re not able to handle the amount of work you have. It’s this combination of high demands and low control that can send you into panic mode.

The effect stressors have on everyone is different. Something that might seem nerve-racking to you, might be perceived as just challenging to someone else. Some of the factors that determine how you process stress include your own psychological make-up, your past experiences, your overall health as well as your professional and personal life. A little stress can be beneficial every now and then, but you should keep it at a minimum for the sake of your mental and physical health.

What causes stress?

Being able to manage your stress begins by being aware of what your triggers are. Depending on your circumstances, it’s not always possible to completely eliminate them. However, by recognizing how they’re affecting you, you’ll be better able to determine the solution that works best for you. Think of it like this: once you’ve identified your stressors you’ve opened the door to begin making changes. When it comes to the workplace, feeling stressed out is common and can be caused by plenty of reasons. You might have already experienced some of the ones mentioned below without noticing, or you might even consider them to be a normal part of your job.

Some of the most common stressors in the workplace are:

  • Heavy workload and tight deadlines
  • Long hours
  • Job insecurity
  • Lack of proper resources or insufficient skills
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Poor relationships with your managers or coworkers

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How Stress Affects You

Let’s say you’re under a low level of pressure on a constant basis. Your body will still process this stress the same way it would a more intense level of stress. This quiet tension, although seemingly unharmful, can negatively affect your health in the long run.

Symptoms of stress are not only psychological, they can also be  physical or behavioural. Because the signs aren’t always obvious, and they can silently build up over time, check in with yourself regularly to be aware of what’s going on in your mind. This means taking the time to pause and be conscious of anything that’s bothering you and how you’re reacting to it, both mentally and physically.

Have you noticed any of these symptoms? If the answer is yes, it might be time to make some changes in your working life.

  • Frequent headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia or constant tiredness
  • Regular upset stomach and indigestion
  • Changes in your skin
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Feelings of overwhelm, discouragement or depression
  • Lack of focus or difficulty in making decisions
  • A decrease in creativity or enthusiasm
  • Problems with personal and professional relationships
  • Mood swings
  • Impatience

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Techniques to Help Manage Stress

On the brightside, there are plenty of solutions available to help you take the edge off. Once you recognize exactly what’s triggering your stress, you can determine the best way to approach it. Some of these changes you might be able to make yourself, while for others you might need help from those around you. Begin by trying one or a combination of the coping methods below. If, despite your efforts, you continue to see your work-related stress worsen, it might be time to consider another job or, even make a career change. We suggest seeking advice from a counselor or psychologist before proceeding.

Ways to Cope With Stress

In between a busy schedule and increasing demands at work, being constantly stressed out might feel like a normal part of life. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of techniques and strategies that have been developed by mental health professionals to help you manage your stress levels and ultimately save your mental and physical well-being. 



Emotion-Focused Coping Strategies

In the case of emotion-centered coping, the individual prevents the empowerment of negative emotions. It can be a suitable strategy if you cannot control the situation that you are struggling with.

This method involves strategies to manage your emotions as a way to reduce your stress. It won’t necessarily get rid of the issue itself, but it can help you to feel calmer and more capable. In other words, if you cannot change the situation, you can still change your feelings which surrounds it!

Calming your mind is one way to overcome a nerve-racking situation. Under a state of stress, your brain processes information differently, leaving you emotionally drained. Should your brain stay in this state for a long time, it can lead to chronic stress.

Taking deep, mindful breaths is one way to soothe your nerves. If you can find a quiet place, go there. Breathe in slowly and hold for a few seconds. When you exhale, consciously release the negative thoughts that you’re holding inside. Repeat a few times until you feel at ease.

Some other coping strategies include meditation, breathing exercises or aromatherapy. To keep your mind at ease, consider incorporating one or a combination of these techniques throughout your day.

Emotion-focused coping strategies also involve looking deeply inwards to get a better idea of what’s going on in your mind.

In the process, you might learn more about yourself and why you’re reacting the way you are. Journaling about what you’re going through can help you to release your innermost thoughts. Express yourself out loud, talk to a loved one or seek professional help. Practice kindness and forgiveness to increase your self-compassion or build yourself up by using positive self-talk.

Problem-Focused Coping Strategies

It’s not always possible to change the situations that life throws at you. Yet, sometimes it is. Take a good look, is it possible to adapt anything? If it is, a solution-focused coping strategy can help you. It refers to proactive efforts that you make to change your social or physical environment, or even to actions that you make to change yourself (e.g. learning a new skill to be able to cope with overwhelming tasks more effectively). Sometimes all it takes is a little action to make a major shift.

In the workplace you can start small by speaking to your manager or someone in HR. Make that first move to begin easing your nerves. You’ll notice that you’ll see things clearer when your mind is more relaxed. Some other solution-focused techniques include using time-management to organize your schedule, developing self-discipline or learning communication and conflict-resolution skills.

Learning how to recognize and deal with stressors can do more than keep your mind balanced, it can also help to develop your sense of self-awareness. You become more mindful of how you act when you’re under pressure and how it affects others. You also recognize how important it is to make it a priority to take care of yourself. Managing your stress is a practice that will take time to develop. Don’t lose hope if it doesn’t work on the first try. With each attempt, you’ll learn how to overcome the inevitable stress that is a part of living a well-rounded life.

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