Studies show that Australians work longer hours than all other OECD nations and do not use their full annual leave entitlement. Signs of obvious workplace stress include headaches, increased anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, increased drinking and reduced work performance and productivity. Here are some career tips for reducing stress in the workplace and alleviating that sense of dread when you wake up in the morning.
Develop friendships at work
Cultivate friends and allies at work that you can turn to and exchange jokes and funny stories about your weekend. Try and avoid negative or toxic people in the workplace. This will deflect the focus off your workplace problems and give you a safe haven where you feel more relaxed and in control. If you are going to vent about your workplace problems, make sure that your colleagues are trustworthy. Generally, it’s better to discuss any problems with your partner, friends and family outside of your workplace.
Manage your workload
Learning to manage your time at work is a major factor in decreasing your stress levels. Try employing time management tips such as prioritising your workload and managing your employee’s expectations, learning to say no to work tasks and ask for additional help or resources. Give yourself some breathing room and delegate repetitive tasks that don’t take much supervision and focus on tasks that require your individual expertise to manage your stress levels to try and achieve a work-life balance.
Take short breaks
Taking regular short breaks during the day to stretch out your legs or walk around the office to speak to colleagues can help reduce anxiety levels. Even after a short break, you will return back to your desk rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to tackle the problem, project or day that lies ahead of you. Step away from your desk, computer and telephone at lunch time and eat your lunch at the park, go shopping or have a coffee with a work colleague.
Finding a mentor can be a great way to reduce workplace stress for junior staff or middle management. Mentors can be assigned within the company or can be found externally through industry associations and networking groups. A mentor can help work through work problems and how to negotiate work conflict, help employees build self confidence and develop interpersonal skills.
De-clutter your office
Even doing something as simple as cleaning your office can clear your mind and increase your focus. It can be very draining and overwhelming to face a messy office every single day. This is only a temporary measure so to keep disorganisation at bay; you need to incorporate a proper filing system and system of managing your documents. Adding plants to your office and changing the layout of your desk so your back doesn’t face the door can be good feng shui as well.
Exercising at lunch times or before or after work has a host of psychological as well as physical benefits. Aerobic exercise can help you manage stress in the workplace by producing endorphins that uplift your mood and mental well being. It increases your social networks and decreases your social isolation. Exercise also improves your sleep patterns and gives you time to think and focus on other things.
Go on a holiday
Holidays can be a great way to unwind, de-stress and shake off workplace blues. Make sure you that you have organised someone to take over your work, arrange an adequate handover or hiring a temp or casual to do your work while you are gone. You want to be free of worries and stress when you do go away and relax knowing your work is in good hands and you won’t have any face any problems when you arrive back at work.
As a very last resort, you may have to consider changing jobs if you cannot cope with the workload, demanding boss, toxic colleagues or unrealistic deadlines and you have undue stress in the workplace. You spend an average of 40 hours a week with your colleagues so you need to be happy. Your mental health and relationships with your friends and family are far more important.