stress management tips

A look at three major stress drivers at work and tips on how to manage them

That sinking feeling in your stomach; that unwillingness to get out of bed; dragging yourself at work; increased heartbeat, sleepless nights, sweaty palms, hair turning grey, and stomach problems – this is all STRESS! 

Sadly we don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered from it all! In fact, it would be safe to say that stress is on the rise, especially in workplaces. We can blame it on the faster pace of work and life or more competition or the corporate rat race or even our personal relationships – whatever may the reasons be, the bottom line is that STRESS seems to be GROWING! 

Here in this article, we will focus on some of the main stress-inducing situations in an office scenario AND some tips to help you reduce it (or at the very least manage it better) –

Interpersonal Conflict

One of the most significant sources of stress is the BOSS (a US-based study reported that over a third of surveyed workers cited their boss as the primary source of their work-related stress). As your boss or senior management has the most control or say in what you do at work, how well you are treated, and your long-term career prospects, it is not surprising that difficult bosses can become a major source of worry. 

Apart from team leads and HoDs, conflict with colleagues can also lead to a toxic work atmosphere, which will undoubtedly increase the stress in your daily work life. 

What can you do?

First off, keeping quite and bottling it all up is NOT going to help. The stress will only keep increasing, and it is better to be upfront about your problems when they are small and manageable rather than when they get out of hand.

If your boss is inadvertently causing stress but is intrinsically a nice, reasonable person, then it might be useful to sit down and have a simple chat. It would also be helpful to chat about your problems with some close colleagues and enlist their help when things start getting stressful – for example, with late-night shifts or deadlines. It might seem a bit aggressive, but setting some boundaries can be helpful in the long run – for example, if you have to get back home at a certain time, but long meetings or last-minute work always creates difficulties, then talking about your time constraints openly is best. Try to find a flexible way to manage work such as coming in early, taking on a different role, or working from home. 

If, on the other hand, your boss’s personality is difficult to deal with, then there isn’t much you can do to change him/her or your situation. The short term solution is to learn to deal with moods, predict personality traits, and keep yourself calm. In the long-run, moving to another department or a different company altogether is the only permanent solution. 

Unrealistic work expectations

Too much work, impossible deadlines, long work hours, and working with too few resources or staff are all unreasonable situations at work that induce stress. 

While you might be able to manage working beyond your capacity or abilities for a while, it is bound to create a problematic situation when it becomes a long term expectation. 

What can you do?

Setting expectations and time limits are the only ways ahead. Every job has situations where you will be asked to extend yourself to do more – peak season in retail or a new project or client with a tight deadline. All employees understand this and are generally OK with it too. The problem only starts when you go from one stressful project to another and from one deadline to another; when the team size remains small, but the workload keeps increasing. In these situations, you have to speak to the senior management and present your problem along with solutions. 

Work-life Imbalance 

In the current work culture where working long hours is a badge of indispensability and almost a status symbol signaling one’s importance in a company, personal life usually suffers. This competition to work extra-long starts when most people are young and can sustain this lifestyle, but when families come into the picture, it becomes challenging to maintain a balance. 

What can one do?

First and foremost, get a sound support system in place to manage whatever home related work you can outsource. Spend extra to get better and more reliable help. With external help in place, set your limits. This could be how many days a month you will travel or sacrosanct family times such as weekends or late evenings. 

Career-wise you might have to re-evaluate how you can cut down or accommodate your family’s needs with your work schedule. Ultimately every person must decide their priorities themselves. But it’s important to sit down and plan what you want to do, what are your life’s must-haves, and what you are willing to let go off. Once you have that clearly defined, the next step is to go about finding the smoothest path to achieve the best work-life balance.

 

The Bottom Line

Stress will always be there! Whether you are the CEO or the new intern – everyone has some problems they are dealing with and some tensions they are living under. No one is exempt, but some do manage to seem less stressed and happier. This is only because they have the mindset and the drive to change their situations. Stress is a symptom of loss of control; when you feel that you can’t change a bad situation and are stuck in it. Always know that YOU have the reins of your life; YOU are in the driver’s seat, and the choice to change is YOURS. 

Approach your problems with a positive attitude and look for solutions – they will seem less stressful.

If things seem overwhelming and you need to reduce stress immediately, then learning ways to de-stress from professionally trained learning facilitators is the best way forward. Find out more about our programmes that help with stress management by writing to contact@soaringeagles.in.