Tips For Recognising & Handling Stress At Work

It causes us to age more rapidly, damages our physical and mental health, disrupts our relationships and inhibits our ability to perform at work, but for so many 'stress' is now an ever-present factor in their lives.

In 2015, the Australian Psychological Society reported that anxiety levels among the Aussie population were on the rise, with a reported one in five adults being forced to take time off work to focus on their mental health.

Here’s some tips for recognising and handling stress at work:

Recognise:

If you’re struggling to concentrate at work, suffering from headaches or an upset stomach, or feeling anxious, irritable or depressed, stress could be to blame. As stress can present itself in a multitude of ways, it’s important to identify how stress feels to you. Rather than blaming your discomfort on some unknown impending illness, consider what environmental pressures may be shaping your physical and emotional experience.

Prioritise:

Often when we have a lot to do we become overwhelmed by spiralling thoughts. By focusing on what’s most important and identifying the day’s most pressing tasks, we can reclaim a sense of control over our work. Write down your goals, create a to-do list and ask for help whenever necessary.

Disconnect:

Contrary to popular belief, employees who take regular breaks are more productive than their desk-bound colleagues. Studies show that those who temporarily divert their attention away from their work have higher energy levels, more innovative ideas and lower levels of stress than those who remain fixated on the task at hand.

That said, it’s important to remember that all breaks are not made equal. Rather than spending your lunch answering emails or staring at your phone, disconnect from technology by practising mindfulness, going for a walk or catching up with friends.

Decide:

Defining your limits is an essential part of avoiding unnecessary stress. While saying ‘no’ to colleagues can be difficult at first, learning to do so demonstrates a commitment to your role. Taking on additional tasks when you’re already pressed for time will leave you unable to complete any one project to the best of your ability and could eventually lead to unwanted physical and emotional burnout.  

Decompress:

A certain level of work-induced stress is unavoidable, but the way in which you choose to process that pressure determines whether it will consume you. For some people, practising yoga, meditation or exercising allows them to unwind. For others, the best way to release unwanted tension is to write it out in a journal. There is no right or wrong way to decompress once you allow yourself time to do so.

Remember:

If you struggle to contain your thoughts or feel overwhelmed by the pressures of life, reach out to your employer or consider seeing a counsellor who can help you find relief.