11/05/2018 by Kori Burkholder
7 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress At Work
Monday morning you wake up before your alarm goes off. You’re already feeling anxious and stressed. You’re dreading going to work because you don’t like your job anymore. You feel frustrated because the work doesn’t light you up as it once did or maybe it never did?
A staggering 56% of employees report stress and anxiety impact their work performance. As a career success coach, I hear all sorts of anxiety and stress triggers that professionals deal with at work daily, for instance:
- Fran, an account manager at a media agency, is constantly stressed because she’s working 60-hour weeks, getting bounced around from account to account, gets very little recognition for her contribution, and has become resentful for the lack of consistency.
- Mary, a creative director at an ad agency is always fearful of getting laid off because of the latest industry trend of mergers/acquisitions and budget cuts. This translates into working late hours and weekends to continually prove her worth.
- Amelia, a Program Director at a non-profit, is constantly hustling to secure funding for programs and deals with a 90% rejection rate and has to deal with a "crazy boss" who yells and throws things around his office after each rejection.
- Sheila, a pharmacist, has to be very precise in her job. So if she makes a mistake, it could literally mean life or death. Over time, this has taken a toll on her health because it's a constant source of anxiety and stress.
Each one of these women is now working towards creating her ideal career path, but how do you deal with the stress and anxiety at work while navigating the shift, which could easily take months?
Here are 7 easy strategies to deal with stress and anxiety at work while searching for what’s next in your career:
1. Get Up and Move Your Body
Stress gets caught in the body, so when you get a hit of anxiety get up move. Go for a walk, go for a coffee, take a lunch yoga class or go into an empty conference room and stretch. Moving the body is a great way to release tension and get back into a more relaxed state.
2. Tune Into Your Breath
Sure, our breathing is on autopilot (thankfully!!), but our breathing can get out of whack when stressed out. The simple act of tuning into your breath can immediately release tension.
Kathleen Booker, The Jedi of Calm, shares, "if we ignore our Breath, we give more space in our mind and body for anxiety, worry, brain fog, and exhaustion. This equals bad health, disease and less productivity at the job and home. The Breath is always present. Make the switch, you already know how to pick up your phone instantly. Learn to take a deep inhale before you do..it will shift your life dramatically. As a result, your anxiety and worry will decrease, and your ability to focus will increase. You will become more productive and live a healthier life.’
Try this next time you feel stress or anxiety coming on: take 3 deep breaths in, hold for three, and breathe out for 3. Repeat three times. Now notice how you feel.
3. Tune Into Your Body
Try to pinpoint exactly where the anxiety is living in your body. Is it in your stomach, chest, head? Please give it a shape, size, weight, color, and name. Talk to it. Ask what it’s purpose is in the moment. Listen. Now notice how heavy the anxiety is in weight. As you give it the attention, its importance should decrease quite significantly.
4. Tune Out
In Amelia’s case, she has a crazy boss who yells when things don’t go his way. Although this is never directed towards her, it does disrupts her workflow and can trigger her own anxiety. She found some noise reduction headphones and has been putting them on and listening to some calming music or an exciting podcast during these outbreaks to tune out so she can tune back into her work.
5. Speak Up and Release
Can you go straight to the source of stress, talk about it and figure out how to tackle it, together? Do you have a colleague, mentor, coach, psychologist, or someone you can vent to? The point here is to release it. When you keep things bottled up, it starts to grow bigger and bigger. Keeping the stress inward can cause sickness. So find someone who you can talk to. Is anyone coming to mind? Reach out to them today, speak up and release.
6. Morning Rituals: Arm Yourself With Calmness
Highly successful people start their day with a morning ritual. It allows your mind to wake up slowly and for the creativity to flow and to get grounded in the day. Start your day with a mindfulness practice anywhere between 5-60 minutes. Find an activity that calms your mood and mind. It could be meditation, painting, writing, listening to music, dancing, or choosing something you like to do and will look forward to.
In Sheila’s case, she chose to wake up an hour earlier each day to journal, play guitar and/or dance to one "happy song". A few weeks into it, she stopped waking up feeling stressed because she looked forward to her morning ritual routine. She’s also reported being much calmer on her way to work and throughout her day.
7. Get Sleep
Being too busy can trigger stress responses, and if you’re working 60+ hours a week, it can be tough to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation is no joke! My belief is that you can create time. After digging deep into a client’s life and schedule 99% of the time we can find ways to make adjustments to get more sleep. Getting the proper amount of sleep is going to give you more patience, motivation and creativity to continue moving towards your next career move and being more alert to recognize new opportunities for growth in your current situation.
You may not be able to change things outside of your control, but you can control how you deal with it. So take a breath, speak up, get enough sleep and keep moving in the direction of your ideal career and life. Surround yourself with the right people and use the tools to deal with the stresses as they come up.