So you like your job... or at least, you don’t hate it. But lately it’s really been stressing you out.
You want to perform well and enjoy your role but all this stress is starting to get you down. Well, you certainly aren’t the first person to feel like this.
Researchers are virtually tripping over data that says, “stress is very common at work”. In the UK alone, the Government’s Health and Safety Executive recorded 488,000 cases of work-related stress or anxiety in 2016. That means more than 1 in 100 workers are seriously stressed out!
And it gets worse. In 2015/16, a massive 45% of all sick days were related to stress. That’s almost half!
These trends tell us two things.
One, you shouldn’t feel bad or blame yourself for being stressed at work. Because lots of other people are in the same boat.
And two, finding moving to another company might not be the answer. If workplace stress is this prevalent, how can you be certain you won’t end up in another stressful job?
The good news is, we’ve got proven stress-busting solutions you can try today – and they’re much less drastic than switching jobs.
These 6 stress-busters can help revitalise your passion for work. They’re easy to do, too. So, let’s read on, relax, and get ready to beat workplace stress.
1. Be more willing to say NoOne of the most common stressful situations at work is when work keeps piling up on your desk, much faster than you can get it done.
Your to-do list gets longer and longer, until you start to think you’ll never get through it all. Or find time to have lunch or a break.
It’s a horrible feeling. But often, this situation is partly of your own making. After all, your job isn’t designed to be so over-demanding. (If it is, then you actually should think about leaving.)
What often happens is that, in your eagerness to be a good employee and colleague, you accept too many responsibilities. When someone asks you to do something, you say yes, yes, yes!
But it’s not because you want all this extra work. It’s really because you’re afraid to say no, or you feel you can’t say no.
So change that now. You need to be more assertive and stand up for your own interests. Learn to say no to work that isn’t your responsibility.
Practice saying it now:
There. Not so difficult, is it?
2. Take some time offIt’s not always easy to take a holiday from work.
If you’re self-employed, it can be hard to give up potential earning time. If you’re responsible for managing or supervising employees, it can be hard to let them loose without your guidance.
Or, if you always have a mountain of work to finish, it can be hard to go off on holiday knowing it will still be waiting for you when you get back!
The problem is, you don’t work well when you’re stressed. You work much better when you’re well rested.
- The longer you go without a holiday, the less value and productivity you get from work
- Endless work can affect your health, which might mean you have to take sick days instead of fun holidays
- After a restful holiday, you can return to work de-stressed and get much more done
Take a holiday! In fact, take a good holiday. One of South Africa's largest banks many years ago introduced a policy that when it cam to booking your leave, you had to book at least 10 days off consecutively at least once a year. Taking multiple three-four day holidays was not as relaxing and stress-reducing as one long gap from work.You could then do whatever you wanted with the rest of your leave.
3. Start using the off buttonWe live in a connected world. Technology companies keep telling us what a good thing that is – but it has its downsides, too.
You can get your email on your phone. You can take work calls hands-free while driving. You can work on your laptop on the plane or the train. You can access your work files from any device, anywhere in the world. And you often find yourself doing those things. Even at night, on the sofa or in bed, when you should be having a well-earned rest.
No wonder you’re stressed!
When do you get to just switch off from it all? Well, that's up to you.
Your phone has an off button. Try using it. Set a nightly ‘switch-off time’ of 7pm, or whatever works best for you. And stick to it.
That means no more reading your phone late at night. No more being bothered by work emails when you should be having You Time.
Start relaxing and enjoying your evenings, and you’ll feel less stressed at work too.
4. Talk about what’s stressing you outStressful work is a burden you carry. But feeling stressed is itself also a weight on your shoulders. And a brilliant way to unburden yourself is to talk about it.
This works with almost any problem.
Stress is a collection of problems and anxieties, which can build up and rattle around your brain until they overwhelm you. When stress takes over your life like this, you can feel horrible.
But talking about it helps.
It gets all those out-of-control feelings and worries out of your brain and into the real world, where you can get a better perspective on them.
And when the person you talk to understands and empathises with you, and helps you work on solving problems, you feel even better!
You can talk to a colleague, a friend, a counsellor – or anyone you trust. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can let some of your stress go and feel better.
5. Take some exerciseThis is just a guess, but... you haven’t been getting enough exercise lately, have you?
It’s all too common that when we’re overworked and stressed, we don’t have time to look after ourselves by exercising.
Big problem. Because exercise helps you relieve stress, feel good about yourself, and work more productively. It gets your blood pumping and raises your energy levels. And of course, it’s good for your health as well.
You may think you don’t have enough time to exercise, but you do. And once you start, you’ll realise that not only can you fit it into your workday – but it makes your workday much better too.
Here are some ways to fit exercise into your day:
- Walk or cycle to work, even if it’s only part of the way
- Go to the gym on the way to work, during lunch, or on the way home. Even 20-30 minutes is worth it.
- Go for a walk outside in your lunch break
- Take up a sport you’ve always wanted to play. If you can do it with friends, it will be even more stress-busting.
- Take up running, and do it every day before work or before dinner at night. It’s free!
Exercising takes a bit of will power at first. But you’ll feel less stressed once it’s part of your routine.
6. Make time for something you enjoyWhen you’re really stressed, you sometimes start to obsess about the work that is causing you problems. You become so focused on your problems, you might stop doing the things you enjoy.
Eventually, the hobbies and activities you once loved – and which made you happy – are just memories.
Don’t let this happen. When you do things you enjoy, like sports, going to the pub, hobbies or getting out into nature, you can leave your stressors behind. And you can take that good feeling into work the next day.
Maybe you can combine two? Should you love listening to music or reading, and struggling to find the time to either, why not combine them with a run? You can listen to both music and audio books through most smart phones now, and so could do either of these while pounding the streets.
Start looking after yourself now!All these stress-busters start the same way – with you, making a positive decision to take better care of yourself and be happy.
Make the decision now, try these proven methods, and start beating your stress today"