Top Tips to Managing Stress in the Workplace
Work related stress is becoming an increasingly common source of illness in the UK; an estimated 40% of adults are reporting it as a cause of insomnia. Whether it’s triggered by increased pressures to reach ambitious goals, increased workload, or miscommunication with management, work related stress can cast a shadow over all aspects of life. Fortunately, there are ways to combat these stresses and eliminate unnecessary worries that accompanies them. Here are some top tips to managing stress in the workplace:
- Identify the source
In order to fix a problem, it must first be addressed. By understanding the main cause of will help work towards an effective solution to minimize it. More times than not we find ourselves to be so overwhelmed with day-to-day life, it can be difficult to cope and manage such demands. Every so often, stepping back and slowing down, and taking some time to relax, makes it apparent that it may not be busy workloads or ambitious goals causing stress, but rather the inability to understand how to cope with new pressures.
Sharon Melnick, PhD in Business Psychology, explains how “we experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control.” To combat this, identify the aspects of a situation you’re able to control, and aspects you can’t. This will help to identify exact causes of stress and learn how to better overcome them.
- Eliminate interruptions and plan ahead
Once the source of stress is identified, create a plan and eliminate any disruptions that could contribute to extra pressures. Schedule your day, set daily goals, use tools and diaries to keep you on top of your work and days, and eliminate interruptions.
Chris Webber, The GAP Partnership expert in coping with stress during negotiations, expresses the importance of planning, mapping, and thinking ahead to reduce the impact of stress.
- Understand pressure effects performance, and prepare for it
Pressure affects access to our working memory, which is used to regulate thoughts and recall information. This is why high performing individuals, most reliant on their access to working memory, often suffer from higher levels of stress.
To deal with increased pressure and its effects on working memory, Webber recommends practising scenarios repetitively until they become natural and instinctive. Much like planning how to attain and achieve your goals, it is important to plan out how you will perform in certain scenarios. By anticipating reactions and responses from other parties, you counteract the effect of the adrenaline that is released during these stressful, high-pressure situations, thus aiding in your performance under pressure.
- Talk to someone
Corinne Mills, managing director of personal Career Management, stresses the importance of speaking to managers or senior staff members if you are struggling. If the thought of this makes you anxious, and you’re hesitant to approach you manager, take the time to think about what your difficulties are and consider propositions to reduce these. Expressing your concerns with a clear and practical solution, approaching the situation from a position of compromise, will increase the chances of a positive and proactive response.
If you are still uncomfortable speaking to management, reach out to someone else. A colleague can be just as effective in helping deal with your situation. Another helpful source of consultation, the Human Resources department, is always able to provide guidance on how to approach upper management. Remember, it is important to recognise when things are becoming overwhelming and that sometimes, all you need is the help a lending ear.
To increase the effects of these tips, you may also want to incorporate additional steps into your daily health. Little things like using visualisation techniques to guide yourself through challenging scenarios like meetings, presentations, or negotiations is incredibly effective. Seeking an outlet through a hobby or sport, taking up breathing and meditative exercises, or attending specific courses by professionals suited to your needs on stress-related subjects like negotiation training and courses are all ways to train your body to react to stress in a productive way.
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