How to Deal with Stress at Work

dealing with stress at work

By Carson Tate on May 13, 2021

An excessive workload, unclear expectations, lack of social support, insufficient autonomy, or uninteresting work are all workplace stressors that can quickly accumulate over time. They create a highly stressful work environment, can undermine your productivity, and lead to interpersonal conflict in the workplace. In today’s fast-paced environment understanding how to deal with stress at work is a necessity.

To help you cope and address stress in the workplace, here are ten stress management strategies.

1) Start Your Day from a Place of Relaxed Control

Racing to get your kids ready for school and skipping breakfast is a recipe for stress. Set your alarm to wake up 15-minutes earlier so you can have time to meditate, pray, do some light stretches, or just enjoy a cup of coffee without any interruptions. Decide to start your day from a place of relaxed control, versus a reactive frenzy and watch your stress melt away.

2) Plan Your Days and Weeks

Invest the time to plan your days and weeks so you focus throughout your workday. You’ll notice and increase in efficiency and be less stressed about meeting your deadlines. 

3) Understand Your Job Requirements and Performance Expectations

Unclear job requirements and expectations significantly contribute to psychological stress. A lack of clarity makes it difficult to know if you are performing your job correctly and how your performance is being evaluated. Reach out to your manager and ask for specific, quantitative, and qualitative job requirements and performance expectations. Ask for them to clarify how to perform any unclear job tasks. Clarity and consistent communication will reduce your stress and ensure you exceed performance expectations.

4) Try to Avoid Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict in the workplace always causes stress. Clashes with other employees increases your stress hormones which makes it difficult to concentrate and focus on your tasks.  Avoid discussions about potentially controversial topics like politics or religion to reduce conflict. Assume honorable intent and shun workplace gossip and watch your relationships flourish.

5) Get Comfortable

A comfortable work environment can reduce psychological and physical stress. For example, an uncomfortable chair can lead to back problems and make it difficult for you to focus due to the pain. A loud, noisy office can make it difficult to relax. Place a cushion on your desk chair, put a lamp on your desk for additional lighting, or wear headphones. Get creative and find ways to create a quiet and comfortable office space so you mind and body can relax.

6) Use Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness exercises are a powerful way to reduce your stress. Take a series of deep breaths to focus on the present moment, create a gratitude list, or practice moments of stillness throughout the workday.  

7) Avoid Multitasking

When you attempt to work on multiple projects at once, you decrease your effectiveness and increase your stress. Focus on one task at a time so you can minimize errors, reduce stress, and boost your productivity and impact.    

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8) Exercise

In a clinical trial run by the Body-Brain Performance Institute in association with Swinburne’s University and Brain Sciences Institute, there was a clear link between physical fitness, brain function and reduced stress levels at work. Paul Taylor, who led the research, said that there was a marked improvement in the employee’s mood and cognition from the exercise group with the exercising group showing a 4% increase in overall brain function. When your brain is performing at full capacity, you can focus, concentrate, and make better decisions. Take a walk during your lunch break, do a Zoom morning yoga class, or dance around your office between meetings.  

9) Listen to Music

Music can have a profound effect on both your emotions and the body. It can be an effective relaxation and stress management tool. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Listen to music on your way to work, on your way home from work, and/or throughout your workday.

10) Focus on Progress Not Perfection

Attempting to complete everything perfectly all the time is unrealistic and stressful. Focus on progress not perfection. Pay attention to each step you take toward a goal and celebrate your achievements.

Stress will always occur in the workplace, whether you’re working on multiple projects with the same deadline, preparing for a client presentation, or dealing with conflict with another coworker. Understanding the causes of stress at work and strategies to help you cope are essential for your mental, physical, and emotional health.  

Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies.

She is the author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, and just released, Own It. Love It. Make It Work.: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job. Order your copy HERE! For more information, please visit www.carsontate.com.