No job is without stress, regardless if a person loves what they do. Everyone who has ever dealt with job-related stress has, at some point, felt overwhelmed by the pressure of their work. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming—and sometimes even harmful.
Unfortunately, this kind of chronic stress is all too common. While it may be impossible to avoid all workplace tensions, controlling job-related stress levels is a must.
What Are Common Sources of Work Stress?
There are several different sources of job-related stress. Here are just a few:
- Interpersonal conflicts with coworkers or customers
- A heavy workload
- Having too little job autonomy
- Feeling not listened to or respected
- Enduring ongoing harassment or abuse
- Failing to meet performance expectations
- Unclear organizational priorities or failure to provide clear direction
- Poor working conditions (noise, air quality, etc.)
With that said, here are some ways to deal with and cope with work stress.
1. Track Stressors
It might be tempting to blame work when feeling overwhelmed by stress. But sometimes, the culprit is something else entirely. To ensure that the stress is work-related, track stressors for a week or two. Take note of the most frequent sources of stress, and analyze what happens to the stress levels when stressors are unattended. If a person feels less stressed when avoiding the stressors, they’re likely connected to work.
2. Establish Boundaries
There will always be things that make someone unhappy at work, so it’s essential to establish boundaries between the person and the work. Rather than thinking of work as an obligation, it must be considered an obligation to fulfill or a job paid to do. As long as it’s fulfilling the commitments needed, it’s okay to be through with work and walk away.
3. Develop Healthy Responses
When feeling overwhelmed by stress, the instinct might be to run from the problem. But, a more productive strategy is to learn stress triggers and develop healthy responses to those triggers.
For example, if stress tends to increase around aggressive coworkers, take the time to learn about ways to de-escalate aggressive behavior. If stress seems to go down when catching up on work email, learn limits on work email and develop a plan for practicing effective self-care around it.
4. Look for Support
Sometimes, stress can seem like an insurmountable problem because it’s isolating and lonely. But, while it can feel hard to talk about feelings at the office or to friends and family, sharing the details of stress can make it easier to cope. A person might feel better after talking about their problem, and friends and family may have some great suggestions for dealing with it.
5. Take Time to Recharge
In the long run, fighting stress isn’t about avoiding stressful events. Instead, it’s about staying alert to stress levels and responding effectively. To stay alert, a person needs to take care of themselves. Allocate a time in the schedule to relax and always have time to recharge.
While work-related stress can’t necessarily be prevented, it can be fought. The key is to be mindful of stressors and develop work-life boundaries, not constantly feeling overwhelmed by the job.
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