5 Methods for Coping with Stress at Work

Workplace stress occurs when we view the demands placed on us such as work, family relationships and finance, as more than our ability to cope. Extreme stress is detrimental to our health and happiness, affecting our cardiovascular, immune, and central nervous systems in addition to extreme emotional turmoil.

It is crucial that you learn to cope with work and life related stresses to ensure optimal physical, mental and emotional health and harmony.

Coping with Workplace Stress

There are many stress related symptoms and illnesses that can occur if you don’t take steps to manage your stress levels and learn to cope with stress in the workplace. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Heart Disease
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Strokes
  • Skin diseases
  • Headaches

By finding positive and healthy ways to manage and cope with stress at work, you may find you can reduce and even reverse many stress related illnesses and disease. The following five methods help reduce stress and utilise coping skills in both the short- and long-term.

1. Take a break from the Cause of Stress and Breathe

This may seem difficult within the work environment but once you give yourself permission to remove yourself from the cause of stress, you feel less overwhelmed and more able to cope with the stressor. It allows time to reduce the elevated symptoms and develop a new perspective allowing overwhelm to subside. Develop a strategy whereby you can step away for a short period when the effects of stress seem simply overwhelming.

Once away from the cause of the acute stress, take a moment to clear your head and engage in some deep breathing which will quickly restore balance and help return your heart rate levels to normal. Inhale for 5 seconds through the nose, hold for 5 seconds and exhale slowly for 8 seconds. It is equivalent to deep relaxation meditations.

2. Schedule Your Day For Increased Energy and Focus

We often schedule our day to do too much in our work time-frame, consequently setting ourselves up for stress and strife. We feel we’ll get more done if we push ahead regardless but productivity goes down when stress levels go up and we are left with little energy to enjoy post work activities, friends or families. It is imperative to schedule breaks into your work day, a time to take a breather, eat something nourishing and relax. Take time to do some stretching exercises or take a brisk walk to shake off stressful feelings. Incorporating periods of brief recovery after intense concentration and focus periods can alleviate the build up of stress related symptoms and rejuvenate ourselves.

3. Exercise, Nutrition and Plenty of Sleep

We experience aggravated stress reactions if we haven’t slept or eaten well. It is important to eat a low sugar diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fats to manage stress effectively.

Just as important is getting adequate sleep to enable us to cope with normal day to day stressors. To ensure that racing thoughts don’t keep you awake at night, practice simple breathing techniques: One that has been proven to be effective is single-nostril breathing. Cover the right nostril while you breathe through the left for several minutes, then change sides. Guided meditations are also effective in getting a good night’s sleep, allowing critical healing time for your body.

We have read all the research that shows the effects of exercise on stress and health. It benefits the mind and body enormously. Engage in an exercise that you enjoy which raises the heart rate and releases stress hormones. A 20 minute run, or walk, a dance session, bike ride or a game of your favourite sport has an immediate and lasting effect on your stress levels.

4. Rewrite Your Story

Stress is often exasperated by our own perceptions of stressful work events. We can create a subjective interpretation of events through the filter of our own self-doubt, fears and past experiences. This is a very common and natural human occurrence which causes a lot of stress in our lives. It is extremely beneficial to take a step back from the cause of your stress and be objective about what is happening. When we decide not to takes things personally or project old experiences onto current situations, we find that our change of perspective allows us to remove ourselves from our story and see it in a new light, one which is not so stressful after all.

A non-judgemental analysis of our stressors may help us find that we can diminish much of the stress in our working environment by changing how we think and act.

5. Prioritize Your List of Priorities and Reset Your Panic Button

Define what is really important to you and why; by careful analysis of your priorities and clarity on what is urgent and what is not, you can reduce stress. Be aware of your role in the company, your own strengths, weaknesses, goals and objectives and create an effective list of manageable priorities which fit into this clearer picture. Focus on this list which will have the most impact on your working day and are aligned with your goals, cutting out needless stress in the process.

Sometimes we can become stressed or panicked before important meetings or deadlines. You can reduce anxiety by applying pressure to the right acupressure point. This is achieved by placing your thumb on the side of your middle finger and applying pressure, regulating your blood pressure instantly. Use this panic reset button whenever you feel yourself feeling stressed. To further cope with stress at work: Learn to laugh and smile more often, our brains are connected to our emotions and facial expressions and when we feel stressed, we hold this in our face; so laughing and smiling sends a signal to the brain that all is well, relieving tension and allowing a feeling of well-being to emerge.