Written by Pete Morano on August 13, 2013
Categories: Blog Posts

Mental Wellness StressWhen we talk about health and wellness, it’s easy to think of physical fitness, exercising and eating right. That means that one of the most important parts of our overall well being — our mental and emotional health — can easily get overlooked.

The American Institute of Stress reports that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, 25 percent view their job as the number one stressor in their lives and nearly half of all workers say they need help learning how to manage workplace stress.

While some stress in the office is normal, excessive stress can have a serious impact on employees’ productivity as well as their physical and emotional health.

A recent study in Forbes reported that:

  • The average business professional has anywhere from 30 to 100 projects on their plate at any given time
  • Modern workers are interrupted seven times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours every single day
  • Four out of 10 employees working at large companies are experiencing a major corporate restructuring and feel a great deal of uncertainty about their futures
  • More than 40 percent of adults lie awake at night plagued by the stressful events of their day

We know that we can’t control everything in our work environment, but that doesn’t mean that we’re powerless; making simple changes can help us take responsibility for our own well-being and find ways to manage workplace stress.

Here are a few strategies for fighting stress in the office:

Recognize the Warning Signs.

When you feel overwhelmed at work, it’s easy to lose confidence and become irritable or withdrawn, which can significantly decrease productivity and make work seem less rewarding. Learning to identify warning signs of excessive stress — which include anxiety, problems sleeping, fatigue, muscle tension or headaches, stomach problems and trouble concentrating — is extremely important for maintaining both physical emotional health. By realizing when you’re stressed about work, you can can address it immediately by doing some of the things that are soothing to you — like taking a few deep breaths or getting up and taking a 5-10 minute walk.

Take Care of Yourself.

Eating badly — which usually means a high-sugar, low-protein diet — can seriously stress your system by making you feel anxious and irritable. By eating small but frequent meals, you can keep your energy up, stay focused and avoid issues associated with low blood sugar. Exercise is also an important component of stress relief. Regular aerobic exercise can greatly increase energy, sharpen focus and relax the body and mind.

Eliminate Workday Interruptions.

Most workers are interrupted multiple times an hour by emails, phone calls and coworker pop-ins. It’s important to have a plan for how you respond to these unexpected interactions. One option is to set up regular office hours for coworkers to stop in and address questions. It may also help to wait until the last few minutes of every hour to take a break and respond to messages.

Organize and Prioritize.

Most workplace stress comes from feeling overwhelmed with your workload. By creating a balanced schedule between work and home life, planning regular breaks during the workday and distinguishing between the “shoulds” and “musts,” you can significantly reduce excessive stress. You have to remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself; delegate responsibility and let go of the desire to control or oversee every little detail.

Stay Positive.

When feelings of anxiety or doubt about your abilities creep into your mind, stop them immediately. Instead of being harsh and critical of yourself, be your own best critic! Why? Someone believed in you enough to give you the job. You, too, should believe in your abilities and know that you can manage the work. Encouraging thoughts will help motiviate and empower you, and ultimately train you to inspire others in your work space.

By: Victoria Fields