Stress is your body’s natural reaction when it is under threat or pressure, and unfortunately, many of these feelings can be brought about in relation to our career. If you’re sensitive to stress, your professional life may be causing you feelings of anxiety and poor concentration, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and a lack of interest that can prevent you from performing your best and stop you from moving forward in your career.
Managing stress at work involves a number of techniques that can equip you to deal with any stressors you encounter, overcome professional challenges and help you feel confident in your career. Let’s take a look at some of the key components of how to manage stress at work:
Identifying Your Stressors
The first step toward better managing work-related stress is to identify what exactly is causing these feelings. You might feel stressed out by a particular professional relationship or feel overwhelmed by your workload. You may feel completely burnt out or find yourself with waning interest in your chosen career path. In any case, determining why you feel this way can help you get a handle on your stress.
Here are some of the most common workplace issues that can leave you feeling stressed out:
- Feeling overwhelmed. If you have too much work to do and not enough time to do it all, you’re likely always going to feel a certain level of pressure and stress at work.
- Difficult work relationships. Working for a challenging boss who is critical of your work or micromanages you can cause increased feelings of stress.
- Imposter syndrome. This phenomenon is very common among driven, high-performing individuals who might feel as though they aren’t quite as capable or successful as others perceive them to be. Workplace anxiety can be caused by feelings of inadequacy or worried of being “found out”.
- Job security. Worrying that you will lose your job can cause major anxiety, especially when you have a family, a mortgage or bills to pay.
- You feel stuck. If you don’t find your work meaningful and see little opportunity for professional growth, you may have a sense of feeling stuck. You feel frustrated and dissatisfied with your job, which can lead to additional stress.
When we feel that we have control over our stressors, we tend to feel less stressed. If your job does not allow you much control over decisions, tasks or working hours, you’ll also lose control over the factors that are stressing you out.
By taking back control over your professional life, you can begin to feel greater purpose and motivation. Find ways to exercise more control over how you work if possible, perhaps by refining work process or taking leadership roles where possible without adding too much to your workload.
The area where we have greatest control is of course our personal lives. Here, you can take back total control, which helps you feel more in charge of your life. Your leisure time should have the same importance and focus as your work time and should be planned accordingly. This personal time is key to feeling renewed and energized about your job and can improve your ability to deal with work-related stress.
When thinking about how to manage stress at work, one of the most often-referenced ideas is that of a “work-life balance”. This is all about managing your stress levels at work and at home, which is critical to live a meaningful and fulfilling life and feeling satisfied in your career.
Unfortunately, we are too often constantly connected to our jobs. It’s hard to leave the stresses of work at the office when we are never truly “unplugged” and receive emails directly to our phone at all times of the day. Being on-call 24/7 can quickly lead to burnout.
In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance and reduce stress related to your professional life, try to create more of a division between the two. Creating personal boundaries around work might mean keeping your phone on silent when you’re enjoying family or personal time or making more of an effort to limit the amount of work you do outside of office hours. Similarly, you should look for ways to make more time for yourself while you are working. For example, you might take a walk at lunch or break time to get away from your work and recharge and refocus.
Part of your overall work-life balance is also finding the time to relax. Taking care of yourself is essential to managing stress at work, but don’t wait until you are completely burnt out to take that time off or practice self-care. Relaxation needs to become part of your daily routine. This might mean a yoga class or hitting the gym, reading a book or engaging in your favourite hobby.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take a vacation day now and then!
Stress Management Techniques
To begin coping with stress in the workplace, there are a number of techniques you can try:
- Know what’s expected of you. Changing job requirements and not knowing what is expected of you can keep you in a state of stress. If you’re wondering if you’re doing enough, speak with your boss to review expectations.
- Learn to say no. Knowing how much work you can handle at one time is important so you can identify times when it’s best to say no to helping with a project.
- Speak out if you fear you’re too busy to meet a deadline or handle a full workload. If you are struggling or falling behind, speak with your boss so he or she is aware of the situation.
- Plan ahead. Being organized and planning when and how you will handle each task on your work to-do list can help you better manage stress at work.
- Avoid conflict. Try to stay away from workplace gossip and office politics as these can take a toll on your physical and emotional health.
- Don’t expect perfection. We often place a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect. In your fast-paced job, it’s not always possible to do everything perfectly – just do your best.
Speaking with a professional life coach about the stress and pressure you feel at work can also be a good first step to improving your overall well-being.
Are you finding happiness in your professional life?
Doing what you love can become a reality. A professional career coach can advise you and provide you with the guidance you need to find your passion and discover happiness in your professional life.
As a career coach in Toronto, I’ve worked with driven individuals like you to give them ways to manage stress at work and find clarity when it comes to their career path. Together, we can uncover what is most important in your personal and professional life and determine how to align these goals so you can get to where you want to be. We’ll also create a plan to help you manage stress in the workplace and take control so you can enjoy a more balanced lifestyle.
If you’re interested in a no-obligation career coaching consultation and discover session, I invite you to reach out to me today!