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3 min read

Proven Strategies to Handle Stress at Work — in the Moment and Long Term

woman in therapy for work stress

One of the most common scenarios where we encounter stress is in the workplace. Workplace stress can negatively impact both mental and physical health. When we manage stress at work, we can improve our health and well-being, and even our relationships with others. In this article, we'll share some common work stressors and offer some effective tips for managing work stress to improve mental health.

Some Common Sources of Stress at Work

While many of us try to keep our work and personal lives separate, today's culture makes it increasingly difficult to do so. This blending of our work lives and personal lives can make work/life balance difficult to achieve and create chronic stress.

Stress at work may also spring from the relationships we have with our bosses or coworkers. If you have challenges getting along with your officemates, this can lead to stressful situations and overall anxiety.

Finally, we may be dealing with excessive stress at work related to our workload. For some, they may have too much to do or work that is too difficult, and they may feel stressed about the long hours or pressured to get things done. Others may become bored because they don't have enough challenges in the workplace.

12 Ways to Handle Work Stress

Although work-related stress is common, there are some effective stress management strategies that can help you deal with it.

Create a comfortable work environment.

Surrounding yourself with things that make you feel peaceful and happy can be a way to create an environment that naturally helps to relieve stress at work. If your workplace allows it, bring in an easy-to-care-for indoor plant, pictures of loved ones, and little decorations that make you feel good.

Take quick breaks.

Sometimes we can get hyper-focused on what we're doing and neglect taking breaks. However, studies have shown that taking short breaks from tasks throughout the day can improve emotional health. Just standing up and taking a quick stretch, walking to the water cooler or the bathroom, and getting your eyes off your screen for a few minutes can help.

Avoid or reduce conflict with colleagues.

If you are dealing with toxic coworkers, talk to human resources about any problems that may have arisen. Looking after employee health is one of their bailiwicks. Set clear boundaries with workers, and avoid negative coworkers if at all possible. If you are dealing with systemic management issues, or if your coworkers have not improved after you've tried all avenues, you may want to consider looking for somewhere else to work if at all possible.

Break up the day by taking a walk and going outside.

Not only does taking a walk outside give your eyes a break and help with muscle tension, it can have positive impacts on physical and mental health. A systematic review found that "forest bathing," or getting outside, can lower cortisol levels, decrease blood pressure, and contribute to overall well-being.

How To Cope When Work Stress Follows You Home

Work stress often leaks into home life. Create a firm barrier between work and home. Set a no-email rule past a certain time, and leave your work problems at work. Talk with trusted friends if you feel stressed or frustrated. Don't neglect your social support networks.

Support your health with exercise and nutrition.

Implementing healthy lifestyle habits like balanced eating, good nutrition, and getting regular physical activity can help you manage long-term stress and increase mental health. Avoid fast food, eat across the rainbow (including healthy fats), and move at least an hour most days of the week.

Use music to relax.

Play relaxing music at your desk during the day to help make the work week go by pleasantly. Although what you find relaxing can be subjective--Stephen King famously writes while blaring hard rock and metal. Just make sure that you wear earbuds so you don't disturb your office mates.

Do some deep breathing exercises.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises have been shown to help reduce stress in the moment and manage stress in the long term. Doing these exercises will also help you take a break from your screen.

Cope with stress through better sleep quality.

Sleep is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle when it comes to stress management. By ensuring that you get quality sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene, you can build resilience to manage workplace stress.

Walk to get lunch if possible.

Break up the day by walking to a nearby lunch spot if you can. Getting away from your desk to eat a real lunch (or even to pick something up to eat) can help reduce workplace stress. Fresh air, movement, and getting out of the work environment come together to offer relaxation.

Listen to soothing music on the drive home.

If you have a bit of a commute, use that time to decompress with your favorite music. You may also listen to an audiobook or podcast.

Time Management Tips for Reducing Job Stress

Work stress can take over when you feel overwhelmed and burned out at work. By implementing time and task management principles, you can cut down on stress levels. Time and task management tips for reducing job stress include:

  • Spending time in the morning prioritizing your work tasks and scheduling in some free time to take small breaks
  • Focus on high-priority tasks first
  • Divide your larger projects into smaller projects
  • Limit distractions during working hours
  • Reward yourself after completing a task

Is It My Job—or Something Else?

Anxiety can be a side effect of workplace stress or excessive pressure at work, but negative thoughts and high stress levels can also indicate mental health issues like anxiety disorder or depression. If you feel that your work-related stress has begun to have negative effects on your day-to-day life and relationships with friends, coworkers, and family members, working with a work stress and anxiety therapist at Williamsburg Therapy Group can help. They can offer other strategies for coping with stress, show you how to relieve stress, and work with you on problem solving to support your mental health.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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