How to Control and Manage Workplace Stress at the Office

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Written By Jyoti Bhardwaj

There is a dark, silent killer who lurks in the corners of all of our offices. 

Everyone has felt its presence. Everyone has even had jolting, personal experiences with it. Many people talk about it openly, while others speak of it in a hush-hush tone. Eventually, it reaches everyone in the office and takes its toll.

This silent but deadly killer is called ‘Stress.’

If you have worked in an office, or even at home, which is more common than ever now thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, and then you know a little something about stress. 

Of course, you should know that a little bit of stress is good. It keeps you on your toes, gives you a rush, and the push to move things forward and complete your tasks in a timely and proficient manner.

However, when do you come to realize that you might be just a little bit too stressed at work? Well, here are some of the signs that you are too stressed: 

  • If you are always in a state of anxiety, feeling nervous, nauseous, irritable, or moody
  • If you are suddenly experiencing apathy towards your work or colleagues 
  • If you can notice bodily changes, such as a sudden change in weight, loss of appetite, or ‘stress eating,’ where you consume high-calorie foods in short periods, constantly 
  • If you are having trouble focusing or concentrating on anything
  • If you are feeling a loss of interest in your hobbies or passions
  • If you are experiencing stomach and gastric issues (more often than not, stomach issues emanate from stress 
  • Feeling fatigued or loss of energy levels, stamina, and overall exhaustion
  • If you are using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs as a means to cope with your stress 
  • If you are experiencing social withdrawal- unwillingness to spend time with friends, family, your partner, or colleagues

If you can identify with some or all of these issues, then there is a high chance that you are suffering from stress.

Research shows us that about 40 percent of all workers report that their jobs are very stressful. That is quite a large and alarming number, and the reality is, most people face some form of stress in their workplace

Whatever the reasons might be, stress is extremely detrimental, not just to the employees’ physical health, but also their mental health, productivity at work, and it eventually interferes with their personal life as well. 

To deal with and manage stress, you also need to understand why you are feeling this stress in the first place. Well, here are some of the most common reasons for pressure at the workplace: 

a). Low salaries

Managing Workplace Stress in 2020: 7 Simple StrategiesNo matter how much you love your job, would you continue working if you did not get proper compensation?

A lot of businesses need to understand that the first driving factor for any employee is a good salary. Without this, they are just giving away their skills and effort for free.

Many workers are unhappy and under immense stress due to low salaries, and often cannot quit their jobs even after this dissatisfaction. It ends up taking a toll on their mental and physical health as well as affecting their productivity levels.

b). Excessive workload

Many times, excessive work pressure puts workers under a great deal of stress.

Although they cannot deny the work, they also cannot put in their best efforts due to the pressure and weight of the workload. It is a dangerous cycle and leads to high levels of unproductivity, stress, and dissatisfaction.

c). Decreased social support 

In an office environment, work isn’t everything. The relationship that you share with your colleagues and employers also matters immensely.

Often, a lack of social support can lead to increased dissatisfaction and stress at the office. 

d). Work that doesn’t engage or challenge you 

Work is work. But is it possible to give your 100 percent at a job that simply does not engage or challenge you?

As human beings, we are always looking for the next best challenge. Unfortunately, sometimes our work gets so mundane that we feel the disconnect, which leads to stress and ultimately low productivity. 

e). Unclear expectations about performance 

Having a clear sense of purpose at your job is very important. No matter what work you are doing, if your employers don’t communicate with you, telling you what they expect of you in terms of performance, you will never understand what you need to do.

Wading through unclear waters is very distressing for employees. Although these are just a few of the common reasons that lead to stress at an office, there can be a whole set of other individual and unique factors that are causing you stress.

However, it is vital to learn how to manage this stress so that you don’t break down. Here are some essential things that you need to know about how you can control stress at the office:

1. Track your triggers 

At some point or the other, we all hear about the effectiveness of journaling. When it comes to dealing with your work-related stress at the office, journaling can be an excellent means to learn more about your triggers and stress patterns.

You can try this out for a while- write down your thoughts, feelings, or simply how you reacted to different stressful situations at your office.

Maybe your boss or manager was not pleased with your work, or you had a verbal altercation with your colleague. How did you react to this?

Did you raise your voice, go for a walk, get a snack from the cafeteria, or did you handle it calmly? Track your feelings and reactions, which will eventually help you spot a pattern or triggers of stress.

Once you know what these triggers are, you can decide to try and react to these stresses in a more manageable and fruitful manner. For example, many people turn to THC-based products, from companies like Finest Labs, to help with their stresses, as they can help them to feel more relaxed in day-to-day life.

2. Developing healthier responses 

Once you begin to notice patterns in your stress and the triggers, you will be able to go to the next step, which is developing healthier responses to them. 

Physical activity is always an excellent option for absolutely anyone. This could be in the form of just taking a short walk to cool off, or engaging in exercises like jogging, yoga, visiting the gym, etc.

Exercise is a great stress buster and can help you better manage these stressful situations in the office. You should also ensure that you get a good night’s sleep, of course, insomnia is often a cause of stress, so managing the stress will itself help improve your sleep.

3. Be clear about your requirements and expectations 

Often, job burnout can occur due to employees just not understanding what their role is in a company. In case you feel like your job role is unclear, or what your employer’s expectations are, or even just feedback on your performance, it can lead to elevated levels of stress.

In this case, you will have to speak to your supervisor about the issue personally. Communication is vital here, and communicating your point coherently and articulately is essential.

Explain to your supervisor how you feel that your job expectations are unclear and that they should communicate the same with you so that you can perform better.

4. The greenery around the office 

Managing Workplace Stress in 2020: 7 Simple StrategiesInnately, most humans are nature lovers and love to be around nature.

An office environment can often seem stifling, oppressive, and claustrophobic. Having elements of nature around the office, especially around your workspace, can do wonders for your mood.

If your office does not already have it, then you can speak to your colleagues and manager about introducing plants and mini-gardens in your office area.

You can put them up in the standard rooms, decorating them around your office space, and even put small plants in pots around your workspace. 

Of course, every individual employee would contribute to caring for these plants, but it could turn out to be a great activity. You can always add succulents or bonsai plants around your desk, as these require minimum maintenance and don’t make a mess. 

Many research studies show that having plants or a garden around your office can significantly help in elevating mood, eliminating signs of fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Plants, greenery, and gardens are great in reducing stress levels and even add to the overall happiness quotient around the office.

5. Don’t forget to take breaks 

Most workers spend their working hours on a desk, in front of a screen. Although it may seem like this kind of work does not require much physical exertion, merely sitting around and leading a sedentary lifestyle can take a massive toll on your physical and mental health.

It is crucial to take frequent short breaks when you are working. You can take a quick 10-minute break every hour, where you walk around, have a snack, or talk to your colleagues.

Of course, you have to maintain the timing and make sure that your break doesn’t turn into a one-hour walk or a gossip session! 

When you take your break every hour, it helps to do some light stretching exercises. Stretching your limbs, shoulders, neck, and arms is great and will not take you more than a few minutes to do. 

Without these stretches, you will suffer from immense aches, pains, and cramps, which will eventually become a permanent fixture of your life, and you may find yourself needing to look for natural relief for chronic pain to help you manage this on a day to day basis. To avoid this becoming an issue in the future, take a good number of breaks and always remember to stretch. The act of stretching itself can be a great stress reliever.

6. Resolve conflicts

When working around different kinds of personalities all day, for weeks, months, and maybe years on end, conflict is almost unavoidable. 

Whether you are at the managerial level or you are an employee, conflict may occur at any time, with anyone. You must learn to resolve this conflict without resorting to wrongful means.

Punitive measures are not a good option, as a punishment simply creates more fear, worry, and stress. Instead, you should try and resolve your conflicts openly and directly.

If it is a personal conflict, don’t take the matter public and argue in office in front of everyone. Resolve the issue personally, face to face, so that there are no ill feelings. 

If it is a matter of work, then you can resolve the conflict with the help of other colleagues or your supervisor. Remember to ask for help when you need to.

7. Check-in with each other 

Creating a sense of loyalty, comfort, and warmth amongst your colleagues, employers, and employees is essential for a harmonious office atmosphere. 

Although you must always maintain professionalism in the workplace, encouraging friendships is also essential. Make it a point to check in with your employees (if you are a manager) or to check in with your colleagues regularly. 

More often than not, only having someone to share your feelings with can be of great help. You might not always have advice or guidance, but it never hurts to extend a hand of friendship simply. 

Conclusion: Managing workplace stress

While good stress can help to motivate you- push and propel you to do better in your workplace, lousy stress can have the opposite effect on you.

Always remember that you can seek out help if you want to, and you should not be ashamed to do it. With the rising awareness around mental health and stress, people are more understanding and less judgmental.

If you need professional help to deal with your stress, don’t feel shy to reach out to the right places. Managing your stress can help in making you a happier and more productive worker at your office!

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