Learning how to combat stress in the workplace is a valuable skill. And we would know – we have tight deadlines, clients to keep happy, new tasks that appear constantly, etc. Dealing with stress at work is common, especially in the marketing industry, but excessive amounts of stress can cause serious problems. Too much stress can harm performance, physical health, mental health, and personal relationships. Fortunately, we know about coping mechanisms that are proven to effectively combat stress and help workers lead happier, more productive lives.
Let’s look through some of the most common sources of stress at work and their consequences. Then we’ll give you a list of tips for dealing with workplace stress.
Commons Sources of Stress at Work
Much of your work-related stress can be linked to a few key factors. Common sources of work stress include:
- Excessive workloads
- Low salaries
- Missing your dog (the people at our office can confirm this)
- Lack of control
- Unengaging work
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Fear of job loss
Consequences of Stress at Work
Stress at work causes discomfort at work (duh!), but it can also carry over to your personal life. Here are common consequences of an overly stressful work life:
- Weakened immune system
Tips for Dealing with Stress at Work
A lot of people choose unhealthy coping mechanisms that cause as many problems as the stressors themselves. Our advice is to not do that (it’s good advice, we know). Instead of opting for the troublesome coping strategies, try out our proven-to-be effective methods, which we will reveal shortly. But first, let’s take a look at what NOT to do.
Do NOT Throw Your Computer Against the Wall
This might seem like a good idea because you won’t have to do any work if your computer is smashed, but we advise against it. You’ll have to pay for a new computer, make up any lost work, probably attend anger management, and deal with the judgement from co-workers.
Do NOT Yell “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE” in a Quiet Office Space
Tempting as this might be, it won’t do much to make you feel better. Plus, again, you’ll have to deal with judgement from co-workers. It’s tough to make friends when you’re known as the person in the office who angrily shouts things all the time.
Do NOT Stress Eat Your Feelings
Excessive stress already comes with its share of health problems. You definitely don’t want to pile more health problems on top of those by wolfing down heaps of unhealthy foods. In fact, research shows that healthy eating habits lead to a better quality of life.
Do NOT Watch ASPCA Commercials and Cry at Your Desk
We’ve all shed a tear or two (or 20) while watching those commercials but doing so at work isn’t the way to solve your problems. Sarah McLachlan will remember those dogs, and everyone will remember you breaking down in the office. Save your tears for when you’re on your couch at home.
And now for the tips on what you SHOULD do when dealing with stress at work.
Start your Day Right
The secret to combating stress in the workplace is to begin fighting stress before work. You’d be amazed how much better you’ll feel throughout the day when you have a good night’s rest, a healthy breakfast, and a positive attitude. The positive attitude part might sound cheesy, but give it an honest try. Find quotes and messages that inspire optimism within you and read them each morning.
Set Clear Expectations
People fear the unknown. Uncertainty fills us with anxiety and stress. Both of these can be avoided if you concentrate on setting clear expectations and goals for yourself each day. If you deal with ambiguity from co-workers, seek clarification. You’ll be
Being taken off guard by deadlines is a recipe for a giant stress cake, which is one of two types of cake that isn’t delicious (the other is carrot, which is a mediocre vegetable and has no business fraternizing with baked goods). Avoid these surprise deadlines by remaining organized and staying on top of your project due dates. We recommend using an electronic calendar, lists of goals, sticky notes – whatever helps.
It’s unreasonable to be available 24 hours a day (3 am is for sleeping, not replying to an email). While we understand that modern business practices can make workers feel like they have to be ready to instantly respond to all forms of communication and any breaking issue, we recommend accepting when it’s time to shut down. Resist the temptation to constantly check emails and calls all weekend. We believe in a work hard, play hard philosophy. The weekend should be a time to play.
Comfort is Key
The office temperature, the lighting, the noise – they all matter. Making small adjustments to these can make a big difference. You spend upwards of eight hours each day sitting in your chair, so both your chair and your posture have the potential to cause you stress. So, toss that crummy old chair and make sure your lighting doesn’t assault your eyes like a creepy basement room in an old psychological experiment
Take a Walk
A sedentary lifestyle is not a healthy lifestyle. Minimize the impact by going for a walk on a break. If you have time for more rigorous exercise, take advantage. If not, shorter walks throughout the day are still beneficial. Strut your way to reduced stress. It’ll help you blow off steam and improve your mood.
Listen to Music
Listening to music on the commute to and from work is beneficial, but you don’t have to stop there. Listening to music during work and anytime throughout the day is a great tool to boost your well-being. Find personal favorite songs that relax or motivate you and then add them to a playlist. If you work in a shared office space, you can even team up with co-workers and create an office playlist. We have a Caledon Virtual playlist that inspires and soothes our souls.
Bring Dogs to the Office
If your office doesn’t currently allow dogs, suggest a change. We have a dog-friendly office at Caledon Virtual, and we always feel a palpable sense of relief when someone brings in a furry friend. The pack leader of our office canines, Cali Dawn, is a cute, cuddly stress reliever and a very good girl. She was very loud at first, disturbing the neighbour offices. Luckily one of our employees found this debarking benefits post, and after reading it and getting the procedure done, things have been much better at the office as Cali is always there.
Receiving help from a trusted friend or family member can ease stress caused by work. Your employer might also offer resources, such as an employee assistance program (EAP) that includes online information and counseling. If your stress reaches an unmanageable level, you might want to consider talking to a therapist, who will advise you on how to better deal with your stress and improve your health.