We understand firsthand how stressful and confusing these times can be. We hope to be a resource for you as you adapt to changing working conditions and face new challenges, both professionally and beyond. To do so, we’ve compiled a list of resources to help identify and alleviate some common work-related stresses.
What is Stress and Who Does it Affect?
Stress affects nearly everyone. According to a recent study conducted by The American Institute of Stress, 83 percent of US workers reportedly suffer from work-related stresses with women between the ages of 30-49 being the most affected group. When left untreated, stress can develop into anxiety as well as other mental health issues.
In a life-threatening situation, stress signals your body’s fight or flight response. To allow you to act quickly, your heart rate and breathing will increase, your muscles will tense up, and your brain will need to use more oxygen. Although most of us don’t experience life-threatening situations in our day-to-day, that doesn’t mean stress isn’t present.
Accel5® influencer and President of the Eblin Group Scott Eblin explains the effects that fight or flight has on your health in an exclusive Accel5 video. When operating in a chronic state of fight or flight, ones’ work performance is less effective, and in the long run, the physiological effects of chronic fight or flight can shorten your life.
Although nearly everyone has heard of “fight or flight”, very few people have heard of “rest and digest”. Every single one of us possesses both. Eblin explains, “you can think of fight or flight as your body’s gas pedal and rest and digest as the brakes. To manage yourself effectively, you need to hit the sweet spot between the gas pedal and the brakes.”
Tips for Managing Stress
Believe it or not, not all stress is bad stress. In fact, stress in non-life-threatening situations is actually a great source of motivation. As mentioned before, stress signals your fight or flight response, giving you the oomph to nail an interview, deliver a huge presentation, or finish that project that you’ve been putting off. However, when that stress starts to become a constant in your day-to-day, you should consider addressing it.
Although eliminating stress completely is nearly impossible, there are ways you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming overwhelmed at work. By identifying your stress, you can better prepare yourself for future instances.
Here are our top tips for identifying, alleviating, and preventing stress:
Breathe. First off, take a deep breath.
As Eblin explained, you should learn to tap your brakes when you’re feeling overwhelmed. One way to do so is to take three deep breaths from your belly. The next time you feel stressed out or need to clear your head before a meeting or a conversation, take three big belly-moving inhales and exhales, and you’ll be in a much better position to manage yourself effectively.
Identify Your Stressors: To tackle stress, you must identify what’s causing it.
One helpful tip for understanding your stressors is to create a stress map. According to Benjamin Bonetti’s “How to Stress Less,” stress mapping can help release some of your worries by getting them down on paper. Try writing down everything you’re stressed about.
Prioritize. In the workplace, prioritization is a constant.
Many of us think that by taking on more and more, we’re demonstrating what good citizens we are. In fact, taking on too much isn’t a good thing. It’s important to use the right process for prioritizing. Leadership expert and author Bill Pasmore illustrates how you can stop working on things that don’t matter in his video How to Prioritize When You’re Overloaded.
Take Care of Your Physical Health. Combat stress by incorporating self-care into your workday.
Here are two crucial stress management tips from the HBR Guide to Work-Life Balance:
- Sleep: Sleep is also extremely important for personal productivity. Tips for better sleep hygiene include picking and sticking to a bedtime, identifying activities that keep you from getting to bed at a reasonable time, and establishing pre-sleep rituals that contribute to a good night’s rest.
- Exercise: Regular exercise is an essential aspect of self-care. It has numerous cognitive benefits and has been proven to elevate people’s moods.
Manage Your Time. At some point, everyone feels as though there is too much to do and too little time to do it.
Learning how to effectively manage time can lessen the stress that comes with feeling overbooked and help prioritize critical tasks so they get done. The article 20 Minute Manager: Managing Time from Harvard Business Review Press offers the tools and tricks necessary to manage deadlines, create task-oriented routines, and begin a disciplined approach to taking control of time.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you out, or let your manager know you are overwhelmed.
When stress levels are at an all-time high, it can sometimes feel impossible to get through a day. There is no shame in asking for help, whether it be from a coworker, boss, or external source. Knowing when stress has become unmanageable is the first step towards bettering yourself as a professional and controlling your stress.
In addition to our regularly updated content, you’ll also find featured video and book summaries offering tips for managing stress and leading virtual teams. We’re offering this featured content to all users, regardless of subscription. For additional free COVID-19 resources, click the link below.