5 Tips for Managing Stress at Work

By: Kevin Gardner

No matter what your job is, work comes along with a lot of stress for many people. It can often feel like you don’t have a choice and that feeling stressed out is just how things are. Here are a few tips for managing stress while continuing to perform well on the job.

1. Document Your Stress
You might feel like you’re stressed all the time, but chances are there are specific moments throughout the day when your stress response is being triggered. It’s important to identify what exactly makes you feel stress so you can figure out how to manage it. One good way to do this is by keeping a journal or a notepad handy to jot down when you’re feeling particularly anxious.

Was it an interaction with a specific person, or being asked a particular kind of question? Is there a task you feel unprepared to handle? Or maybe it’s something even simpler, like having limited free time before or after work. By making note of these moments, you’ll be able to identify trends over time and have somewhere to start.

2. Learn Time Management
Something many people don’t know how to do, and something that could save a serious amount of time, is time management. Time management is almost synonymous with stress management because so much work stress comes from an inability to focus and complete work. 

Knowing how to properly prioritize your tasks and get the most important things out of the way will make your work life so much easier. You can use tried and true methods like Pomodoro, keep a bullet journal, or set calendar reminders to help you keep track of tasks and get things done more efficiently. Publications like Workiva can help you learn tricks that have worked for others and streamline your workday.

3. Take Regular Breaks
Whether you’re a serial procrastinator or an overachiever, balance is something you need in your day. Once you’ve nailed time management, you should have specific opportunities throughout your day for “me time”. The point of breaks shouldn’t be to scroll on your phone but to find ways to mindfully relax and recenter yourself. Things like meditation, reading a book, or taking a stroll around your building are all great ways to bring your stress levels down throughout the day.

4. Make the Most of Free Time
Let’s face it, most of us want to put on our sweatpants and become couch potatoes as soon as we get home from work. But ultimately, making a habit of unstructured relaxation could add to your stress. You’ll find the dishes and laundry piling up, your physical and mental health deteriorating, and you’ll wake up every morning wondering why you feel more tired than the day before. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing in front of the TV after a day of work. But managing stress comes down to making choices that add up to a better lifestyle. Getting in some exercise or spending free time on hobbies will help your free time feel more productive. And doing the dishes or laundry as soon as you get home will make your Netflix time feel a lot more rewarding.

5. Create Healthy Boundaries
One of the biggest ways your work life can become a source of stress is by neglecting to create healthy boundaries with coworkers, supervisors, or clients. Once you’re off the clock, you should have the freedom to go home without bringing work with you. You can make this clear to others by letting them know the hours you can be reached, and then enforcing those boundaries yourself by ignoring the urge to check your email once you’re at home. 

Learning to manage stress can be a simple process, and can seriously improve your quality of life. By creating healthy habits and sticking them, stress management will become an automatic part of your life.