How to reduce stress at work
Featured by Mindful Care
The current state of workplace stress in the US
In 2021, a work health survey implemented by Mental Health of America found that approximately 85 percent of people somewhat to strongly agreed that workplace stress affects their overall mental health. They also revealed that 83% felt emotionally drained from work, an early sign of burnout. This survey investigated various sources of workplace stress, including financial security and employer support.
Mental Health of America found that the threshold for most respondents to contribute to emergency savings was a salary of at least 80,000/year. However, around 80% of respondents made less than this annually. Only 41% of respondents agreed that their employers were supportive. An even smaller portion of 15% agreed that their employer had a safe and welcoming environment for people with mental illness.
Furthermore, in September 2021, 4.4 million people resigned from their positions because of an inflexible workplace, burnout, or changes in people’s priorities as part of what we are now calling “The Great Resignation.”
With these glaring statistics about stress in the workplace, what can we do?
First, let us discuss work-life balance because it is necessary for all!
Implementing and maintaining work-life balance
Balancing work with other aspects of life can be difficult but is necessary for you to stay healthy and maintain manageable stress levels.
Once you have left work, or your workday is complete, leave it there. It is helpful to create separation between the two. Even if you work from home, be sure to designate a specific time for work and a specific time for other activities so that there is minimal crossover.
Some people will expect you to be available whenever they need you. In most situations (where you are not on call), however, you should be able to discuss boundaries with your employer. If they consistently need you after work hours, you may need to establish those boundaries in a respectful, understanding manner. Discuss how you can successfully address their needs during the workday so that it does not interrupt important obligations, family time, or relaxation, maybe along with a gentle reminder that people are more productive at work if they have time to relax and focus on other aspects of life.
Outside of maintaining a work-life balance, other ways to reduce stress in the workplace are suggested below. We hope to provide you with solutions to minimize the effects of stress caused by your job or career.
Workplace suggestions to minimize stress
- Set achievable goals for yourself. People tend to feel more productive and can better show their productivity when they have specific goals that can be accomplished at work. Particularly, if your employer does not have specific guidelines for which you need to accomplish each day, just create and meet your own goals.
- Use your time at work wisely. Being more productive while at work reduces the possibility of taking work home. It also allows you to feel more accomplished by meeting goals and deadlines. If you enjoy chatting with coworkers, but it takes up your time at work, suggest meeting outside of work hours.
- Take short breaks. Most employers require full-time employees to take two 15 min breaks and a 30min-1hr lunch break. This is because your body and mind need it! Even if your employer does not require these specific breaks, make sure to take small breaks, so you will not feel worn out by your job after work.
- Communicate your needs with employers or coworkers. People can’t read your mind, so if you’re struggling to finish a project, meet a deadline, or are starting to feel burnout, discuss it with your coworkers and/or employer. They may be able to help or give advice on how to manage your time and reduce the stress you feel.
- Find a new job or career. Now, this may not be a feasible option for everyone, but for those who can, this may be the best solution for reducing your stress at work. Although it would be great if all companies and employers had positive work environments, sometimes this is just not the case. Some companies and employers have toxic environments that will never change and only hurt your mental health treatment. In that case, it’s time for you to move on. Loyalty is a word that many companies like to throw around. Still, if your employer is not respectful and supportive, do they deserve your loyalty? Switching jobs or careers is not a failure, and many times results in better salaries and allows you to understand the environment you want to (or don’t want to) work in.
Or, maybe your workplace just isn’t an environment that works for you. That’s ok, too. We all have different personalities, comfort levels, and mentalities. Some people are motivated by pressure, while others feel defeated. Finding the right fit is incredibly important to your mental health and is often overlooked.
Reduce workplace stress at home
There are numerous things you can do at home to reduce your stress levels that may also reduce your susceptibility to feeling stress from work.
- Take time away from technology and work. It can be great to have flexible hours but remember that you need to incorporate specified personal time, too.
- Be sure home responsibilities are distributed well. If you have roommates or family, it is incredibly important to make sure the household responsibilities are evenly distributed. Stress from home easily bleeds into your workday and vice versa. Planning ahead for the issues that may arise regarding household chores can minimize these feelings.
- Learn to say no. This is quite difficult for some people but is an incredibly important skill, especially when feeling overwhelmed or already having a full plate.
- Get support from friends and family. Having a strong support system is key in managing general stress levels. Talking about your problems to someone who will listen, understand, and support you in all your decisions and commitments is critical to not feeling isolated. This impacts your stress levels substantially.
- Use any employee assistance programs your employer may offer. This can range from guidance in finding daycare, referrals for mental health services or virtual psychiatry consultations.
- Prioritize your health. Make sure to stay active- it reduces stress and your risk of other mental illnesses. It also boosts your immune system. Eating healthy can alleviate your body’s response to stress as well, reducing the number of sick days needed. Other important lifestyle factors to keep work-related stress at bay are getting regular sleep and rest and avoiding drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes which you may be attempted to use to cope with stress
- Get help. Taking care of yourself is necessary. There are tons of mental health resources and professionals at your disposal. Most people benefit from speaking to psychologists and counselors about their daily struggles and stressors to reduce the effects on your mental and physical health.
Stress has a substantial contribution to your mental health, no matter whether employers are convinced of this increasingly worsening issue or not. Excessive and chronic stress decreases productivity and concentration, weakens your immune system, and increases your risk for cardiovascular events such as a heart attack or stroke. Be sure to implement stress-relieving solutions into your life to minimize the effects of stress from your workplace.