In this guide, we will discuss some strategies for managing stress in the workplace.
Also, we will talk about what is stress, some of the most common stressors, common stress symptoms, the main difference between stress and burnout, and some other things to keep in mind when talking about stress.
Strategies for managing stress in the workplace
Here are some strategies for managing stress in the workplace:
- Track your triggers/stressors.
- Learn to manage your responses to stressful events.
- Establish boundaries.
- Take some time for yourself.
- Learn relaxing techniques.
- Have open and honest communication with your supervisor/manager
- Get help when you feel you need to.
The American Psychological Association indicates how “Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.”
We invite you to stop for a moment and think about stressful situations you may have experienced in the last few days.
For some people, stress is such a normal part of their lives that they don’t even notice they are stressed anymore.
The truth is that stress won’t go away if we just ignore it.
If you don’t learn how to manage stress, it can persist in time and become chronic.
This means a negative impact on your health and well-being.
You can improve your work by taking part in training at work place and managing stress.
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What is stress?
The definition of stress according to the one mentioned by Amba Brown from positivepsychology.com is:
“Stress is the “psychological, physiological, and behavioral response by an individual when they perceive a lack of equilibrium between the demands placed upon them and their ability to meet those demands, which, over a period of time, leads to ill-health” (Palmer, 1989).
This basically means that you may be struggling to meet the demands of the situations or things that are going on in your life having to pay attention to one more than the other.
For instance your work over your relationship.
If it continues to be this way some medical conditions can start to develop such as gastrointestinal problems or migraines.
Common stress symptoms
The symptoms of feeling stressed can vary from one person to the other but some of the most common include (Brown, 2020):
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Weight gain or weight loss;
- Stomach pain;
- Teeth grinding;
- Panic attacks;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Sweaty hands or feet;
- Excessive sleeping;
- Social isolation;
- Feeling overwhelmed;
- and obsessive or compulsive behaviors.
What are the common sources of stress?
If you have struggled to pay your bills and/or rent, deliver a project on time, or ever felt like you can’t really disconnect from work then you are very familiar now with the feeling of being stressed out.
Some of the most common workplace stressors according to the APA are:
- Low salaries.
- Excessive workloads.
- Few opportunities for growth or advancement.
- Work that isn’t engaging or challenging.
- Lack of social support.
- Not having enough control over job-related decisions.
- Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations.
Moreover, we could add interpersonal conflicts, physical discomfort, harassment, or bullying as other sources of stress.
Stress vs Burnout
The difference between stress and burnout can be attributed to the fact that stress is inevitable but burnout can be prevented.
As you may know, stress is our response to the events and situations we have to go through on a daily basis.
However, burnout is an accumulation of stressors that can increase stress levels until they are unmanageable.
This is when we can say we are “burned out”.
What can I do to manage stress?
If you have noticed how stress is taking over your life little by little and you would like to prevent it then learning ways to cope with it would be a step in the right direction.
Let’s see more in depth the strategies we wrote in the beginning.
Track your stressors
Now, remember how we talked about how some people tend to “normalize” feeling stressed that they don’t even know they are stressed and less alone, why.
Here, the main idea to recognize your stressors would be writing them down as they present themselves.
However, first, recognize when you are feeling stressed and what the symptoms are.
For example, if you have noticed that getting your kids ready for school is very stressful then find ways to relieve the stress.
You could identify whether they take too much time to get ready or to have breakfast, then try to start their morning routine a bit earlier or if you struggle to make them listen to you then set some boundaries and let them know about the consequences of their delay.
Learn to manage your responses to stressful events
So you have this big presentation at work you have been putting your heart and soul into it, you just want it to be perfect.
You can probably feel your heart racing, your palms sweating, and worrying about the outcome of this meeting.
Here, the presentation is interpreted by your brain as a “threatening” situation, meaning you will be going automatically to a ‘flight or fight’ response.
You could try practicing mindfulness along with breathing exercises when you start feeling the stress over a particular situation.
This will make you feel relaxed and have a clearer perspective on things.
Are you one of those who can’t disconnect from work and stay up late answering work-related emails?
Or does your family complain you seem to be physically in the moment but your mind is still at work?
Well, setting boundaries in terms of establishing when it is time to disconnect from work to go back home and take care of personal matters.
We get it, work is important for you but if you live your life around work then you will only keep building up stress and affect not only your mental health but also your relationships with the ones closest to you.
Take some time for yourself
We know this sounds easier than doing it but taking some time for yourself, such as having a nice relaxing bath or doing some yoga exercises can contribute to your health and wellbeing.
You may have little kids or need to take care of your husband’s needs but you also need to take some time to do what you like, on your own.
Learn relaxing techniques
Relaxing techniques can go from learning how to control your breathing to making a pause during your day to enjoy a cup of tea.
You could also take some time during your lunch or a break to meditate or do some mindful exercises.
If you don’t feel like meditation is your ‘cup of tea’ then try walking around the building for 10 mins after you have finished your lunch.
In addition, you can implement some affirmations (or mantras) that can help you relax during times of high levels of stress, or you could use positive imagery to shift the way your brain perceives reality (mostly negative and/or complicated).
Talk to your supervisor/manager
Have open and honest communication with your supervisor/manager and get into an agreement about making adjustments so you can feel more comfortable and supported.
However, we understand it is not always possible to have good communication with your manager but if they ignore you or won’t do anything to help you out a deal with stress more effectively, try to go higher up or talk to your HR manager.
Someone has to listen.
Get help when you feel you need to
In a perfect world, we would want to deal with everything ourselves and not to get too stressed about it.
But the truth is, sometimes we are not able to cope with everything and it is completely normal, you are not less capable just but recognizing you can’t do everything on your own.
This is why asking for help is very important.
You could try with a friend or someone you trust, but if you feel stress is too overwhelming and you have tried everything possible, consider getting help from a therapist or counselor.
Why is this blog about Strategies for managing stress in the workplace important?
As an employee you may have been dealing with an increasing amount of stress.
However, learning how to manage it can have many advantages such as enhanced self-esteem, increased job satisfaction, and of course, reduced stress (or ideally, stress-free).
Implementing simple strategies at work can be very beneficial to your overall health.
Just try to take some time to squeeze some of them in. Remember, stress can be a “silent executioner” and just because there are no evident effects at first, can actually help develop or exacerbate serious medical conditions.
Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Strategies for managing stress in the workplace
What are 4 strategies for managing stress?
According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the 4 strategies for managing stress:
Avoid: you can avoid stress and plan ahead, rearranging your surroundings (i.e. Avoid people who bother you, learn to say no, etc).
Alter: take inventory, then attempt to change your situation for the better (i.e. managing your time better, state limits in advance, etc)
Accept: learn to accept things the way they are. Talk to someone about your frustrations and learn to forgive.
Adapt: change your standards or expectations to cope with stress (i.e. look at the bigger picture, practice thought-stopping, etc)
What are the five stress management techniques?
Here are the five stress management techniques proposed by APA:
Take a break from the stressor.
Smile and laugh.
Get social support.
How do you handle stressful situations?
You can handle stressful situations if you take time to think and understand the situation.
In addition, try to change your negative attitude for a positive attitude, this helps you stop yourself from being dragged down.
What are three strategies for managing stress?
Three strategies for managing stress effectively could be:
Adopting healthy habits (i.e. a balanced diet, limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol, etc.)
Getting enough sleep by establishing a bedtime routine.
Exercise regularly. This helps relax your muscles and release neurochemical substances that can boost your mood and make you feel more energized.
What are the 5 types of coping strategies?
According to Folkman and Lazarus, the 5 types of coping strategies (emotion-avoidance) are:
Accepting responsibility or blame
Apa.org: “Coping with stress at work”
Scott, E. (2020, Jan.) 9 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress at Work. Retrieved from verywellmind.com.
Brown, A. (2020, Apr.) 62 Stress Management Techniques, Strategies & Activities. Retrieved from positivepsychology.com.