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Coping with Stress at Work

Coping with Stress at Work – The Necessity
Coping with stress at work is becoming a necessary skill. According to the Mayo Clinic, 25% of people say their job is the primary stressor in their lives. Another study says 29-40% of Americans are “extremely stressed at work.”1

Workplace stress interferes with productivity and also affects physical and emotional health. Numerous medical conditions have been linked to stress including anxious feelings, irritable moods, depression, apathy, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, headaches, muscle aches, stomach issues, addictions, cardiovascular disease, impaired immune response, and many more. Those are just a few reasons why coping with stress at work is essential!

Coping with Stress at Work – Evaluating the Triggers
Coping with stress at work is all about creating a balanced life. The first step is to identify stress triggers. Are there issues or habits that consistently stress you? Consider jotting down each stressful event for one week. What led up to those emotions? After a week, look for patterns and identify events or people who trigger stress in your life.

For example, if you notice a pattern of stress on Tuesday and Thursday, what is it about those days that make you stressed? Perhaps you’re in charge of the carpool that day and always arrive at work with a headache. What can you do to improve your morning commute those days? Perhaps you can get up a little earlier or prepare breakfast the night before. Come up with a plan to keep those morning organized and more relaxed.

The best way to cope with stress is to find ways to alter the circumstance that is causing the stress. Be proactive about your environment, interactions, and schedule:

  • Control your environment. If you feel anxious after watching certain TV shows or after checking in on social media, then limit those activities. If conversations about politics lead to stress, politely change the subject or remove yourself from the conversation. If your work environment creates anxious feelings, adjust it as much as you can. Maintain a clean and organized desk. It will save you time and minimize anxiety.

  • If a certain person stresses you out, limit time around them (when possible).

  • Develop a balanced schedule. Prioritize tasks, break large projects into smaller, more manageable goals, and delegate responsibilities when you can.

  • Say no. Know your limits and don’t over-commit to responsibilities that will create anxiety.

Coping with Stress at Work – Helpful Tips for Less Stress in the Workplace
Consider these helpful tips that will promote coping with stress at work:

  • Start your day right. If you’re not a morning person, prepare the night before. Get up 15 minutes earlier than you need to in order to give yourself more time and to avoid rushing through your morning. If you arrive at the office early, you won’t have the stress of playing catch-up all day.

  • Communicate. Develop your communication skills and learn how to resolve conflict.

  • Pay attention to your physical and emotional health. The better you feel, the better equipped you’ll be to handle workplace stress. Eat healthy meals, including breakfast.

  • Get moving. Incorporate 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise into your day.

  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine. These substances cause anxiety as they wear off.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Take breaks. If possible, go outside and enjoy the fresh air. Take a walk, write in a journal, or listen to soothing music.

  • Laugh. It’s the best medicine!

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Take a step back from the situation and figure out if you can actually improve it. If not, relax.

  • Take a vacation! Plan a fun trip or “staycation” every few months. Even a day trip will help.

  • Do something you enjoy every day.

  • Seek professional help. If you continue to struggle with workplace stress, schedule time to talk to a therapist, counselor, or church leader. Having someone with whom you can discuss your worries may help lessen anxiety. A good counselor will listen attentively, enabling you to discover your underlying concerns. Together, you can create productive means of handling stress, so that you may heal emotionally and physically.

Coping with Stress at Work – A Personal Story
“I struggle with stress at work. It is based in fear. What if I don’t meet my boss’ expectations? How am I going to meet that deadline? If I just work extra overtime, I might win that promotion. How will I get it all done?

“Then I stop, take a deep breath, and pray. My perspective changes. I don’t have any control over my boss’ expectations. I can set realistic goals so I can meet that deadline without feeling the pressure. I don’t want to give up my family time to work overtime, so the promotion isn’t that important. “I remember that Bible verse I learned as a kid. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." God wishes to lift me up out of danger, but I must first humble yourself-letting go of the pride that says I can fix every and any problem in my life. Humility allows God to enter into my life and take over.

“Once God has taken my anxiety, what does He have to offer? Philippians 4:7, after recommending prayer in anxious times, explains that, ‘the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ God gives me peace. He can do the same for you. He will take your anxiety and fill your heart and mind with tranquility. Even if you cannot comprehend His power, present your problems to God. You'll be amazed at the peace He can give.”

Learn More!

1 CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

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