7 Strategies To Deal With Work Stress

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, always fears getting laid off because of the latest industry trend of mergers/acquisitions and budget cuts. This translates into working late hours and weekends to prove her worth continually.
  • Amelia, a Program Director at a non-profit, is constantly hustling to secure program funding 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 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 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 and 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 return to a more relaxed state.

2. Tune Into Your Breath

Sure, our breathing is on autopilot (thankfully!!), but it can get out of whack when we are 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 work and home. The Breath is always present. Make the switch; you will know how to pick up your phone instantly. Learn to inhale deeply 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 three deep breaths in, hold for three, and breathe out for three. 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, or head? Please give it a shape, size, weight, color, and name. Talk to it. Ask what its purpose is in the moment. Listen. Now, notice how heavy the anxiety is in weight. As you give it 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 disrupt her workflow and can trigger her 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 to 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 to 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, 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 woke 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! I believe that you can create time. After digging deep into a client’s life and scheduling 99% of the time, we can find ways to make adjustments to get more sleep. Getting the proper amount of sleep will give you more patience, motivation, and creativity to continue moving toward your next career move and be more alert to recognize new opportunities for growth in your current situation.

You may be unable to change things outside your control, but you can control how you deal with it. So take a breath, speak up, get enough sleep, and keep moving toward your ideal career and life. Surround yourself with the right people and use the tools to deal with the stresses as they come up.

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