7 Strategies for Coping with Stress at Work

happy young business man at officeStress is an ongoing problem for many people in our fast-paced society. We have forgotten how to stop and smell the roses, and instead spend our days rushing to and from work, school, the store, or going to any number of other activities. We tend to be plugged into our iPhones, iPads, and computers for the majority of the day and struggle with unwinding and slowing down for a sufficient period of time to feel refreshed and relaxed.

One of the locations where we may experience significant stress is the workplace, where we are often expected to keep up with high demands, frequent interruptions, and multitasking. Over time, this level of pressure can take its toll on both our physical and psychological health and well-being.

As a therapist, one of the questions I am asked most frequently is how to deal more effectively with stress on the job. Some people may have a self-care routine at home, but they often have more difficulties with maintaining one at work. The following are strategies that can be used to help in reducing stress levels on the job:

  1. Avoid eating lunch at your desk. Whenever possible, try to leave your work environment in order to take a break for lunch. Going for a brief walk and getting a little sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for refreshing your spirit in the middle of the workday. If this is not possible, at least try to eat lunch somewhere other than at your desk in order to avoid continuing to work at the same time.
  2. Take a five-minute relaxation break once or twice a day. If you are feeling particularly stressed over a specific situation at work, take a break and listen to a short meditation or relaxation app that can be downloaded onto your phone. This can help you to gain a different perspective or to at least come back and approach your workload from a fresher frame of mind.
  3. Get organized. Prioritize your workload to get things done in order of their importance. Becoming more efficient with your time will help to reduce your stress levels, as you may feel that you are accomplishing more. If you tend to struggle in this area, you might want to consider enrolling in a time management class, where you can learn more effective ways of organizing your tasks.
  4. Get up and stretch. If you spend a lot of time working on the computer, try to get up once in a while to stretch your muscles. This can also be helpful in alleviating the eyestrain associated with looking at the screen for long periods at a time.
  5. Discuss problems regarding your workload with your boss. Many people tell me that they feel overworked, but they frequently don’t express their concerns with their supervisor, which tends to make them feel worse. By talking to your boss about any issues that are coming up, you may be able to get some help resolving them. If this does not solve the problem, then you can reevaluate the situation and possibly consider looking for another job.
  6. Take a few deep breaths. If you have had a stressful interaction with a client, colleague, or supervisor, try breathing deeply for a few minutes and focusing in on any tension you are feeling in your body. By taking a few moments to breathe, you can take your concentration off the stressful situation and center yourself prior to moving on to your next task.
  7. Look at problems as challenges rather than obstacles. We can sometimes find creative solutions when we approach issues with an open mind and positive attitude rather than just considering the negative side. Also, think of what you might be able to learn from the situation instead of focusing on what you can’t do.

Although you can help to relieve tension on the job by following some of the techniques above, developing a good self-care regimen before and after work is an important part of reducing your overall stress levels. Start your day by meditating when you wake up to begin on a peaceful note, and try to incorporate some exercise into your routine at least several times a week. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep in order to feel refreshed before facing your day.

Stress can have devastating effects on our health if we don’t take some time out to care for ourselves on a daily basis. Dedicating a little time every day to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits can be an effective way to reduce our stress levels and improve our well-being.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Wendy Salazar, MFT, therapist in San Diego, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Bentley

    September 11th, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    I used to be the guy putting in hours all the time, staying through lunch and after work- until I realized that my job was my only life, I was allowing it to interfere with everything else that I wanted to do. I had to let some of that go but you know? That was not easy because this was the habit that I had created for myself for a long time and it felt like I was letting down the company by cutting back some. I think that even though I know now that this was the right thing for me to do, at the time it caused even more stress and I had to work on letting some of that go for a long time before I could feel good about that separation that I was creating.

  • Marianne

    September 13th, 2015 at 8:35 AM

    There will be those days when you just want to look at everyone around you and scream as loud as you can… but you have to be a grown up if you want to keep your job. So what should you do instead? I think that it is perfectly ok to get up and walk away for a little while. It gives you time to clear your head, get your thoughts straight, and get a little clarity before overreacting. That one thing right there could actually save your job!

  • Maxine

    September 14th, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    It really does help quite a bit to have some allies in the office. Not that you are gonna trash talk anyone but just having one or two friends on your side that you know you can vent to can be very helpful.

  • morgan h

    September 15th, 2015 at 2:57 PM

    Use your vacation and sick time- that is what they are there for.
    And what are you going to do with that accumulated time when you leave if you haven’t used it?
    Lose it in a likelihood so use it for personal days.

  • Dave

    September 16th, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    um how about try to get all the people fired who cause you so much stress? lol

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