Managing stress at work

Managing Workplace Stress: Strategies for a balanced life

Stress at work in these tumultuous times, we have all felt the struggle to keep up with the pressures of work from home and being at home. Therefore, it is hardly a surprise that occupational stress has been on a rise.

So What is Occupational stress?

According to the American Psychological Association(APA), Occupational Stress ‘is a physiological and psychological response to events or conditions in the workplace that is detrimental to health and well-being. It is influenced by such factors as autonomy and independence, decision latitude, workload, level of responsibility, job security, physical environment and safety, the nature and pace of work, and relationships with co-workers and supervisors. Stress at work involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.’

Also read: What are the causes of stress in the workplace?

However, not all stress is bad! We don’t need to demonize stress but understand it better.

Identify the stressors

There are two kinds of stress: Eustress and distress – both of which can motivate us in different ways. Eustress is the stress that helps us take on a doable challenge which leads to a positive experience and also self-growth. Survival and performance need eustress. It could be moving into a new apartment with the excitement and stress that comes with it.

Distress is associated with any stressor that is deemed to be negative, causes anxiety and hinders our ability to function appropriately and think clearly. For example, feeling stuck at a job one doesn’t enjoy or feel passionate about, conflict with colleagues, dealing with a work bully.

Ms S, a Manager in a leading company shared that she finds multitasking constantly to be a big stressor. She often feels helpless and now that she is working from home the pressure to multitask has gone to a whole new level. Besides this she has micro Stressors like Underestimated deadlines, bureaucracy etc. Micro-stressors may seem insignificant at first but they are like the apps and notifications draining your phone’s battery in the background.

Effects of constant stress at work usually result in fatigue, lack of productive behaviour, job dissatisfaction often higher attrition rate and worst-case scenario burn out.

When your body is under constant stress it results in low energy, weight gain, high blood pressure and ultimately lifestyle diseases like diabetes and mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, eating disorders.

Defusing your stressors

Below are the best 9 ways to help manage stress at the workplace: (these are not to be seen as prescriptive but rather help reflect on ways you are handling the stress at work)

  1. Reappraising your Goals-Remembering and re-evaluating your goals will familiarize you towards one direct focus. It will contribute to the longevity of your efforts and optimize your strategy so that you are not waylaid with distractions and burdens which further add to your stress.
  2. The morning routine of nothingness – Meditation may feel daunting. However, an alternative is to do nothing and simply focus on your breathe after waking up. Doing this just for 10 minutes helps with being a little less reactive and more reflective through the day. Don’t let your phone decide your mood for the day!
  3. Finding Value in the work you do-Find at least one thing you value in the work you do every day. Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy, even if it’s just spending time with your co-workers. It will help reframe the way you look at your work and regain a sense of purpose and control.
  4. Create and maintain boundaries: Everyone has their different interpretations what work life balance means to them. Creating clear boundaries between work and home life will reduce the potential for any conflict and the stress that goes with it.
  5. Pause, reflect and Communicate-Stop and think of all the stressors that have been affecting you lately. Find a way to brainstorm with a friend or a colleague to reach a resolution and challenge the roadblocks you might be facing.
  6. Self-care- “A house divided against itself cannot stand”- Abraham Lincoln. Start prioritizing yourself. Taking care of yourself means being mindful and proactive. Self-care is never selfish or wrong. Eat, Sleep, exercise and repeat.
  7. Celebrate your victories- Pat yourself on the back or cheer yourself a little every time you make a healthy choice for yourself at work. Relish the big and small achievements they can be highly effective in the long run.
  8. Recharge and Relax-Take regular breaks. Take a break from technology, and go for a walk every day. Take a break from work and go on a short trip every few months. This will also help you gain healthier perspectives in places you felt stuck.
  9. Work buddies and finding support- Delegating and asking for help from work buddies can help to relieve stress. If the feelings of anxiety continue to overwhelm you, then it would be a good time to talk to a psychologist.someone who can help you understand unhealthy behaviour patterns and better manage your stress at work.
Beware one size does not fit all, try a couple and see what works for you and if you have a tenth one please do share with us we would love to hear from you!

Jenisha Shah
Clinical Psychologist and Therapeutic Movement Facilitator
Share This Blog
Recent Blogs
Top 5 Mental Toughness Strategies Used by Elite Athletes through Sports Psychology Interventions
Addressing Concerns Related to Body Image, Acceptance, And Self-worth in The LGBT Community
Existential Depression - All You Need to Know