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How to Handle Stress at Work

Deadlines, salary, infuriating colleagues, personal problems; are all factors that often lead to stress or worse, burnout. Hans Selye, a highly influential endocrinologist defines stress as, “response of the body to any demand, whether it is caused by, or results in, pleasant or unpleasant conditions.” (1976)

Selye’s definition still stands today—even more so at a time when economic crises worldwide are causing an imbalance between work demands and livable wages. The effects of stress may vary from person to person. Physical aftermaths, such as headaches, sleep disturbances, even lack of concentration may make employees less productive in the office. Once a person’s mental health is hit, that’s when stress becomes an even more serious matter.

Thus, it is inevitable that the outcome of managing stress at work becomes no easy feat despite the presence of programs that Human Resources create to either encourage teamwork, collaboration, or a fun work environment. It is necessary to consider that each individual at work has different thresholds for stress that make it hard to pinpoint where exactly stress comes from.

How to Deal with Stress at Work: Get to Know the Stressors

Are you familiar with job burnout? It refers to the adverse effects of stress at work as a result of prolonged exposure. Burnout gives rise to anxiety and depression and ultimately steers your employees to resign from work. Here are five ways to cope with stress in the workplace for both you and your staff:

  1. Identify the Stressors
  2. Adopt Healthy Coping Strategies
  3. Establish Boundaries
  4. Take Time to Recharge
  5. Get Some Support

1. Identify Stressors

As stated earlier, every individual has a different tolerance level for stress. The biggest challenge is to have that level of mindfulness to pinpoint what is causing the stress. Knowing where the stress is coming from allows you or your employees to understand what is wrong and what can be done to deal with it in a healthy manner. Some common examples of stressors include the tension between co-workers, personal issues, low salary rates, and rude customers who treat staff in a degrading manner. Identifying where stress originates is the first step to lessening everyone’s stress levels.

2. Adopt Healthy Coping Strategies

Effort-driven actions that are either behavioral or psychological in nature are called coping strategies. People utilize these coping mechanisms to tolerate, reduce, or minimize stressful events. It is one thing to know what stresses you out, but another to actively find ways to help lessen it. This thought process encourages problem-solving.

Now that you know what stresses you, what are you going to do about it?

Some common ways people deal with immense work-related stress include stress-eating, sleeping, playing online games, reading a book, or even actively telling their thoughts to shut up especially when it involves negative thoughts about a coworker who they find is constantly inhibiting a healthy working environment.

Being able to healthily express your stress allows you to protect yourself and the atmosphere in the office. Another strategy you can adopt is utilizing sublimation, which means turning negative energy into positive activities. Exercising is a concrete example of this.

3. Establish Boundaries

When talking about boundaries, it is not limited to relationships in the office. The statement, “Work is work. Don’t bring it home.” perfectly encapsulates the idea of setting limitations. Creating and sticking to boundaries are a clear and hard practice to do especially with how the pandemic has shifted work arrangements for several people. Some are stuck in endless community quarantines that they have to bring their work home.

Not to mention, extremely strict project deadlines from clients notoriously take a toll on an individual’s well-being. Boundaries are useful in maintaining your peace as a person since you tell yourself and people that this is where you draw the line whether it be in working with others or setting aside time for your personal life and career.

4. Take Time to Recharge

A group of disorders caused by stress in the workplace is called Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs). By failing to take time off and recharge after prolonged exposure to strenuous, stressful work, leads to developing the following symptoms:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Tension neck syndrome

WMSD hits muscles, tendons, and nerves that are essential to performing daily undertakings efficiently. Thus, getting an ample amount of rest reduces the likelihood for these disorders to appear and reduces stress at work and in your personal lives.

In relation to the third method of managing work stress, putting a boundary between your work life and personal life is important since you are human, not a robot. Not having time to yourself to get rest and recharge is a one-way ticket on the burnout train. There are biological repercussions when exposed to stress for long periods of time. Being able to pause, breathe, eat, sleep, and do something you love and have a change in environment would help you become more productive at work.

5. Get Some Support

Have you ever thought that your team was competent enough that they do not need help? Think again. If your team is outnumbered by the tasks they have to do, that’s a warning sign that you need to hire people to help them manage the overflow of tasks. Hiring another in-house employee is the likely solution. However, outsourcing virtual assistants is a better alternative. This is especially true if the budget of the company says otherwise. Since most virtual assistants are quite versatile, the chances are they are capable of handling whatever your help desk or in-house needs to keep your customers and employees happy.

Your customers are treated well and professionally, while your employees are able to breathe and continually work on core tasks that your company specializes in. It also gives both employer and employee more time to rest and helps in dealing with stress at work as well as in ensuring that work quality is duly preserved.

Goodbye Stressors, Hello Productivity

These are some of the most helpful tips on how to reduce stress at work. Each company differs in how they deal with stressors in the office or workplace, but following these tips accordingly should prove beneficial for both business owners and their staff. There is no need to burn yourself out while working just to prove you are an important asset to the company. In the same manner, ensuring that staff doesn’t need to work overtime frequently translates that the business values the overall wellness of its staff.

Remember, asking for help and rearranging the work structure should be normalized. Whether it be asking superiors to allow you to go on leave, granting requests for time off at work, or hiring a virtual assistant to help ease the load on your in-house staff, doing all or any of these is okay. One thing is for sure, creating a safe environment in the office and making time for yourself is one of the many solutions you have to effectively cope with stress.

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