Stress is a part of life no matter where you live or what you do. But an unsettling number of Americans feel unduly stressed at work. In fact, 78% of employees rate their stress level as high, according to a new CareerCast survey, and that’s a notable jump from the 69% of workers who felt similarly in 2017.
If you’re feeling stressed at work, there are steps you can take to rise above it and maintain a more settled outlook. Here’s how to start.
1. Get organized
Meeting deadlines is the most common source of worker stress, with 38% of employees struggling in that area. If you find that you’re constantly worried about completing tasks on time, then make an effort to get yourself more organized. Find an online calendar or scheduling app that helps you manage your days, and allocate your time so that your most important tasks get your full attention, while less critical tasks follow behind. Being physically organized will help you stay on top of things, too, so take some time to declutter your workspace, set up a filing system, and do whatever it takes to make finding things on your desk easier.
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2. Take breaks
It’s natural to feel stressed at work when you get there early in the morning and plug away nonstop until evening. A good way to alleviate some of that tension is to treat yourself to a few breaks throughout the day. Doing so will help you recharge, clear your head, and perhaps approach your workload from a calmer place. If you find that it’s difficult to make time for breaks, schedule them. You might, for example, allocate 30 minutes for lunch in the middle of the day, or snag 15 minutes during the latter part of the afternoon, when your brain usually starts turning to mush.
3. Find allies
Having people around to talk you down when you get stressed could help you go from perpetually anxious to well adjusted. That’s why it pays to find some coworkers you can confide in at the office — people who will be your sounding board and offer advice on everything from workplace conflicts to managing your load. At the same time, if you have a good relationship with your boss, it never hurts to share the fact that you’re feeling stressed. Your manager might be able to offer tips on how to better ease that strain, or even take a few tasks off your plate to help things along.
4. Learn how to say no
It’s one thing to want to please the people you work for, but if you say yes every time you’re asked to take on additional work, you might easily find yourself overloaded and overwhelmed. A better bet, therefore, is to get more comfortable saying no to tasks you just don’t have the capacity to handle. This especially holds true during periods when you’re already burning the midnight oil.
Some amount of stress at work is natural, but if you’re horrendously stressed day in, day out, it’s time to break that cycle. Otherwise, you’ll only be putting your performance at risk, not to mention your mental and physical well-being.