Feeling stressed out and anxious at work is very common. With demanding bosses, tight deadlines, and endless tasks, it’s easy for work stress to pile up. While some pressure can be motivating, too much can be overwhelming. Left unchecked, work stress can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, and other physical and mental health issues.
Learning to manage workplace stress is crucial for your well-being. Here are some tips for coping with pressure and anxiety on the job.
Examine Your Stressors
The first step is understanding what’s causing you to feel stressed and anxious. Make a list of your main stressors. Are they related to your workload, interactions with coworkers or managers, workplace politics, lack of work-life balance, fears about job security? Identifying the root causes will help you devise targeted solutions.
Set Manageable Goals
Feeling overwhelmed often stems from taking on too much. Try to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day. Set manageable daily and weekly goals to work towards larger projects and assignments. Break big tasks down into smaller, doable steps. Celebrate when you meet your goals, even small ones.
Prioritize and Organize
Stop spinning your wheels and focus your time and energy on essential tasks. Make daily to-do lists, categorizing items as A, B or C priorities. Focus first on A items, moving to B and C as time allows. Use productivity tools like calendars, project boards and file organization to stay on top of everything.
When tension starts mounting, take a short break to clear your head, stretch your legs, get a snack or chat with a coworker. Even a quick walk outside or listening to uplifting music can hit the reset button when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Schedule small breaks throughout the day to recharge. Make sure to take a proper lunch break, away from your desk if possible.
Don’t take on unnecessary work outside your responsibilities. It’s okay to say no sometimes. If your boss piles on extra assignments, have an open conversation about your current workload and be honest about what you can reasonably take on. Make leaving on time a priority, unless deadlines require an occasional late night. Draw boundaries with coworkers who make excessive demands.
Avoid Unhealthy Coping Strategies
It’s easy to fall back on unhealthy habits like overeating, smoking, or drinking as a way to deal with work stress. But using drugs, alcohol or food as coping mechanisms only compounds problems. Find healthier ways to manage stress like taking a walk, calling a friend, journaling, or practicing meditation. Get exercise during breaks or right after work to release pent-up tension.
Manage Your Time Wisely
When you’re stretched too thin, even basic tasks can get bogged down. Set realistic time estimates for projects. Schedule focus time for big priorities where you can work without interruptions. Limit distractions like social media, emails and unnecessary meetings. Avoid procrastinating on unpleasant or overwhelming tasks. Staying on top of your workflow will help minimize last-minute stresses.
Leave Work at Work
Don’t dwell on work issues or bring excess stress home. Make an effort to detach after hours and on weekends. Engage in hobbies, connect with family and friends, exercise or do relaxing activities. Take time for self-care like baths, reading, stretching or listening to music. Getting proper rest and recharging your batteries outside of work will help you manage stress better on the job.
Speak up respectfully if aspects of your work are causing excessive anxiety, like unrealistic deadlines. Discuss concerns openly with your manager before frustrations boil over. Present reasonable solutions, like dividing up a major project or bringing on temporary help to ease the burden.
Know Your Limits
Some workplaces have a high-pressure culture that won’t change. If your stress seems unmanageable, understand when a situation is untenable. Leaving a toxic or extremely stressful job can be better for your mental health in the long run. Have an emergency fund and support network in case you need to walk away.
Get Professional Help
If work stress is impairing your daily life or causing severe physical or emotional symptoms, seek professional counseling. A therapist can help with stress management strategies and determining if an anxiety disorder is at play. Be open with your doctor as well. Some stress medications like antidepressants may help in the short term while you get back on track. But make sure to rule out and address any underlying medical issues.
While demanding jobs will always involve some pressure, anxiety and stress don’t have to be inevitable. Being proactive and utilizing healthy coping strategies can help you get through stressful periods. With time and practice, you can learn to handle workplace challenges in a calmer, more positive way. The rewards will include increased productivity, less burnout and a greater sense of professional fulfillment.