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How to manage your stress in the workplace

By Michael Crump | 07 March 2016

Keeping cool under pressure is always difficult. There can be a lot happening that is out of your power.  Couple that with a mess of things going on in your personal life and you could be walking right into a stress-storm in the middle of work.

It can especially frustrating if what’s going on around you is out of your power. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Letting the stress get the better of you can be just as unnerving as the stress itself.

There are some things you do have control over however- including managing your stress. Eating right, taking breaks, sneaking in some exercise and keeping lists are just some of the ways to manage your stress in the workplace.

When was the last time you were put under pressure at work?

So, here’s how to easily manage your stress at work with these simple tips.

man with glasses writing in journal with house plant on desk

One Thing at a Time

Focusing on one task at a time means putting all your attention and energy into the task at hand instead of trying to spread yourself out to as many things as possible. Much like a clown trying to keep everything in the air as they juggle, managing multiple things at once can get very tiring and indeed stressful. Trying to work on three things at once also increases your chances of making a mistake, compounding that stress. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Work out what needs to be done first or can be achieved first and knuckle down on getting that one thing done first.

Work out whether or not you want to tackle the most time consuming task or the quickest task first. Often, putting off the most difficult task till last results in a last minute rush and additional stress. Approach your to-do list strategically.

Which is why prioritising your tasks is a very important step to take at work before you feel like your drowning at your desk!

First Things First

Effectively prioritising your to-do list is the surest way to get everything done – if not, atleast the most important things. Writing down a to-do list can help you clear your mind of all the tasks flying around in your head. Plus, the act of writing it all down will actually make you feel as if you are accomplishing something (that’s what we tell ourselves anyway). Basically, by being organized you can keep one step ahead of yourself at all times and won’t be floundering wondering what is next or how far behind you are.

yellow post it notes on desk

Eat Properly

While coffee is amazing, sure, it’s not the only thing you should ingest to keep you energised at work. The right food is just as important as your daily flat-white.  Making sure your body is nourished properly is essential.

It saves everyone around you too. Whether you’ll openly admit it or not, hangry is a very real thing and is most likely caused by low blood sugar levels which hampers the brain’s ability to make cognitive decisions. So to stop yourself from losing control before it happens, here are some quick, easy and healthy lunches you can prepare for yourself. There are also foods that you can snack on and brain boosting breakfasts you can fill up on in the morning to make sure you’re fueled for the day ahead.

And for when you start to get the shakes on those busy days with no break insight, sneak in some chocolate or a banana to carry you through.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking a break every 30 minutes – if feasible –  or regular breaks throughout the day can help boost your productivity, increase concentration and prevent heart disease. It’s also great for your eyes if you stare at a computer all day and your body if you stretch out the tension with some simple exercises. We like to take short breaks to sneak in some exercise during the work day. 

Even going for a walk at lunch does wonders for your wits. Let your legs free and walk around the block or down the road at lunch to breath in some fresh air too.

During your break, take stock of everything you’ve done and everything that still needs doing to make sure you’re staying on track and are happy with your progress. This sort of mental reward should boost your confidence and work so that when you get back to your desk you can crack on with what’s left.

dark skinned woman working at restaurant with laptop

Ask for Help

Put your pride to the side for a moment and save yourself the stress of trying to work out the answer by simply asking for help. You’ll be surprised by how much time just asking will save you. That, and the pressure you’ll take off yourself.

When you ask for help from someone, you might also learn a thing or two about the task at hand. Of course, there is some serious merit to working out what the right questions are to ask. Asides from being more efficient, asking the right questions can make others feel important, promote knowledge sharing, builds relationships and helps break down barriers between departments and hierarchy. Make sure your question is well worded, is open enough for the receiver to provide enough information should you be on the wrong track and is direct enough to get a response.

Managing your stress at work doesn’t have to be stressful. Keeping all these tips in mind when you’re under the hammer at work will help you immensely. While we’re not always in control, these are some of the things that we have control over and that can leverage to calm ourselves down, keep us in good mental and physical shape and inevitably, help us manage our stress.

Remember, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

How do you deal with stress at work? Do you have any personal tips?

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