Does your job stress you out? If not, rejoice! If yes, take comfort in the fact that you're far from alone.
Even people who enjoy what they do often find that work leaves them frustrated, fatigued, or burned out. According to the American Psychological Association, more employed U.S. adults than ever before (a whopping 70% of those surveyed) report their job as being a major life stressor. That's a significant increase from the 64% reported just last year.
The data is clear: it's time to step out of the rat race for a moment and learn how to reduce stress at work. If you're ready to embark on a journey toward occupational zen, read on for a simple stress-reduction guide that you can try out today.
What Causes Stress in the Office?
Depending on your personality, anything and everything is fair game for causing stress. Even so, some workplace frustrations pop up more frequently than others:
- interpersonal conflict
- poor communication
- too much or too little work
- a lack of challenges
- no avenues for growth
- unclear performance standards
You may deal with some, all, or none of the items on this list. Regardless, it may help you to take some time to identify and track your stressors.
Try keeping a journal or log of events that cause stress while you're in the office for a week or two. Take note of the emotions you feel, how you react, whether this is a repeat occurrence, and whether there's an avenue in place to address or resolve the issue.
How to Reduce Stress at Work
The patterns that emerge from your journaling exercise will give you valuable insight into what you can change and what you'll have to learn how to work around. Whatever category your main stressors fall into, the following strategies can help you manage them more healthily.
Make Time to Move
Sedentary desk jobs are terrible for your physical health, and they can take a toll on your mental wellbeing, too. If you find yourself feeling uneasy, fidgety, and irritable every afternoon, it may help to take a moment for movement. Try using your lunch break to walk outdoors, take the long route to the bathroom, or just stand up and stretch at your desk every hour.
If your job always keeps you on your feet, you likely feel like all you want to do is collapse at the end of a shift. Even so, incorporating slow, mindful exercises such as yoga can help you relax and reduce stress from standing all day. Try running through a quick sun salutation or another short stretching routine on your breaks or after work, and practice deep breathing while doing so.
Don't Contribute to Conflict
Office drama makes for a great sitcom, but it isn't fun to live through in real life. A calm work environment is free from gossip, backhanded comments, and petty revenge. Don't allow yourself to take part in these things and keep yourself out of unneeded arguments whenever possible.
Keep in mind that this policy doesn't apply to serious issues like harassment or discrimination. Any time there's an issue that threatens someone's safety or wellbeing in the workplace, ignoring it would be a grave mistake. Instead, go through the appropriate channels and try to resolve the issue as peacefully as possible.
When no one else in your workplace knows you're feeling stressed, they won't be able to do anything to help. That's why clear communication is so important in creating a healthy work environment.
If you're struggling to work with another team member, don't understand a manager's expectations, or are looking for a new challenge, try meeting with your supervisor to workshop a solution. Acknowledging the issue is often the first step toward resolution.
How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety When Working From Home
The number of people working from home reached new heights this year. According to an MIT survey conducted this April, up to 50% of Americans may now be telecommuting in some fashion.
While working from home has some clear advantages over commuting, it also comes with a new set of challenges. Here are a few things to try if you've had trouble adjusting to the remote work lifestyle.
Set Clear Boundaries
Working from home blurs the lines between your job and your personal life. Unless you already have excellent time management skills, it's easy to find yourself working until bedtime (or not starting your work until bedtime). If you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it's essential to set clear boundaries.
For you, that may look like working a set number of hours every day and then logging out of your email. You may also want to set aside space in your home that's used for work and nothing else. Whatever boundaries you create, inform your coworkers and housemates of what they are and stick to them.
Find a Support System
Working from home can feel isolating even if you've been doing it for years. As such, it's crucial to build a support system of people who can help you work through your feelings of stress. This may be friends, family members, faith leaders, or even a therapist—anyone you can have on speed dial when the going gets tough.
Get Enough Sleep
Being tired all the time is hard enough when you're out of the house, but it adds a whole new layer of distraction when your office is mere feet from your cozy bed. To reduce stress and fatigue while working, follow a regular sleep schedule that affords you 7-9 hours each night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try sipping a hot cup of herbal tea, turning off your electronics, and dimming the lights for 30 minutes before heading to bed.
Is Your Job Making You Stressed?
In some cases, leaving a toxic workplace is the only way to restore harmony in your life. Thankfully, reducing your stress at work doesn't often take that dramatic of a measure. Try adding movement into your day, sticking to your boundaries, or even taking a moment to sip a hot cup of tea, and you may be surprised at how much calmer and more energized you feel.
Now that you know how to reduce stress at work, it's time to bring peace to your home life as well. Take a look at our beginner's guide to aromatherapy for inspiration.