April is #stressawarenessmonth and so for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing a number of pieces around the topic of Stress, what it does to our bodies and how we can overcome it!
Deep breath, and lets dive right in…
We’ve all had periods when work is particularly stressful, weeks (or sometimes months) when you feel like you just can’t catch a break. Instead of moving forward with exciting ideas and projects, you may feel bogged down with small issues and constant fire-fighting.
While workplace stress usually passes (if it doesn’t, it might be time to quit your job), there are things that you can do to help make the stressful times more bearable.
Eat your lunch
Seems simple enough, but we all know that lunch is pretty easy to skip if you’re up the walls in work – we’ve all done it. Your body (and your brain) need to take a break every couple of hours.
You need to eat, breathe some fresh air and give your eyes a chance to relax away from your computer screen. After taking a break you’re more energised and less likely to make mistakes. In the long run, taking breaks is actually better for your productivity.
Work mates are key
Listen, now more than ever, any and all communication is important – even if it is over Google Hangout or Zoom.
Research has shown that social interactions are critically important for your mental and physical health. In fact, people who have at least one close friend at work are more likely to be engaged in the workplace. When the workplace stress is building up, grab a 15 minute catch up with a colleague for a chat. Just don’t spend all afternoon complaining about your boss. Be positive and constructive.
Know your remit
If you don’t know exactly what’s expected of you, or if the requirements keep changing at the last minute, you may find yourself much more stressed than necessary. An easy way to deal with this is to set up a one-to-one meeting with your manager or supervisor. Ask them to provide feedback on your previous work as well as an outline of the tasks you should be in charge of going forward. This should clear up any ambiguity.
“No” is a magical word
It’s hard for many of us to say “no” to someone, but sometimes it’s just bloody necessary, especially when you’re being asked to do work outside of your remit (see above). In order to avoid workplace stress, you need to know your limits and stick to them. Remember that you can’t do everything (no matter how hard you might try). If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t be able to perform at your best.
Enjoy your hobbies
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to neglect your personal life. Perhaps you cancel plans with friends or stop doing an exercise class after work. Remember that you are not a machine. You need time to rest, recuperate and socialise. If you’re bailing on your other commitments due to workplace stress it might be time to take a step back.