Ways to Deal with Work Stress
25 Jun 2019
Work stress happens
to just about everyone who has a job at some point in their lives. Some people
deal with work stress well, while others don't have a clue about how to deal
with stress at work. Most fall somewhere in the middle, maybe having a few
things that help as well as some unhealthy ways of coping. Here are 33 ways of
dealing with stress at work that are healthy, effective, and safe.
Track Your Stress
- Identify your stressors. You know you have stress at
work. You may feel it as you get ready for the day, once you get there, or
on your way home. But do you know specifically what is making you feel
stressed at work? Keep a journal where you write down a list of people,
situations, and events that make you feel pressure and stress.
- Pay attention to the way
stress affects you physically. When you're under the most stress, what kinds
of physical symptoms do you have? Do you feel drained of energy? Are
headaches and stomachaches a problem at those times? Is your sleep
disrupted or you sleep too much on weekends? Does your heart ever feel
like it's racing when you're under a lot of pressure at work? Keep notes
and talk these symptoms over with your health and mental health providers.
- Notice the effects of stress
on your mental health. Also keep track of how stress is affecting
your thinking and behavior. Are you missing a lot of work when you're
feeling most stressed? Does it seem like you might be having anxiety or
depression? Keep this list to use if you talk to a mental health
- Take note of how you react
It's very important that you take stock of how you're reacting to stress
each day. If you respond by yelling or other angry behavior, it could
jeopardize your job and personal relationships. When you react to stress
by drinking, eating, sleeping, or smoking more than usual, stress could
ruin your health. But, if you discover that any of your ways of dealing
with stress at work are healthy, appropriate, and effective, give yourself
a pat on the back and keep doing them.
Exercise for Stress Relief
- Practice yoga. Yoga is so helpful for
stress management in the workplace that many companies around the world
are incorporating it into their workday. If your company has that option,
take advantage of it. If not, take a class in your free time and practice
the poses during your lunch hour.
- Take a group exercise class. An off-work exercise class
can help you manage stress in the workplace when you're on the job. Any
kind of fitness class will do, whether it's an aerobics class, a swim
class, or a spinning class. As long as it gets your blood pumping and
increases your breathing rate, it can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone
that causes many harmful effects of stress.
- Join a sports team. Being a part of a team
sport has many stress-relief benefits. It not only gives you physical
exercise, but it challenges you to work harder and think more clearly. At
the same time, you'll get your mind off of the things that stress you at
- Take a walk or a jog. Depending on your state of
physical health, take a walk or a jog every day. If you can, fit it into
your lunch hour. If not, do it before or after work. Weather permitting,
go outside for your daily walk or job to benefit from the fresh air and
Use Relaxation Techniques
- Do systematic muscle relaxation.
Systematic muscle relaxation just means tightening and releasing different
muscle groups in a systematic way. Typically, the recommendation is to
start with the muscles of your toes and move up muscle group by group
until you reach your head.
- Practice deep breathing.
Deep breathing gets more oxygen to your body and brain and more fully
releases the carbon dioxide. There are several different deep breathing
techniques. The easiest is to simply sit quietly and breathe in slowly
through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Do a body scan. Take a
moment to become more aware of your body. Sit quietly or lie down if you
can. Direct your mental attention to each part of your body, one at a
time, noticing how it feels. When you're more aware of your body, you can
treat it better and attend to its needs appropriately.
Follow Meditative Practices
- Practice meditation.
Meditation comes from Eastern practices, but people around the world are
becoming more interested in this way of dealing with stress at work.
Direct your visual focus to a small object or say a simple word or mantra.
Then let thoughts drift in and out of your consciousness, noticing them
without judging them or trying to hold onto them.
- Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is a way of being fully present in a given moment.
Sit quietly and notice what's coming to you through your five senses.
Don't try to judge these sensations. Just focus on the experience.
- Listen to a guided imagery recording.
Guided imagery usually consists of someone describing a peaceful scene.
The narrator tells you what to picture and how to focus your mind.
Mentally insert yourself in that scene to enjoy the tranquil feelings it
Develop Healthy Habits
- Have healthy worktime snacks and lunches.
Junk food is usually the order of the day at most workplaces. Instead of a
bag of chips or a slice of pizza, opt for a piece of fruit, a veggie
snack, or a protein bar or shake that's made without a lot of sugar or
- Take a power nap. Taking
long naps during the day is counterproductive. But a 15-minute power nap
can refresh you and prepare you for the second half of your day. Set the
alarm on your phone, get comfortable, and take a brief nap.
- Avoid drinking too much caffeine.
Working people tend to enjoy their coffee, and that's great up to a point.
But when you drink too much coffee, the stress can lead to tension and
- Stay away from alcohol at lunch.
If you go out to eat for your workday lunches, alcohol may be available as
a menu option. But, it's important to avoid alcoholic beverages during
your workday. They can slow you down or influence your mood, and thus
increase your workplace stress.
- Work-life boundaries. Separate work from your
personal life as much as possible. Don't allow work responsibilities to
always intrude on your own plans, hobbies, and activities. At the same
time, try to avoid dealing with personal issues while you're at work.
Complete separation of work and life isn't always possible, but the more
you do it, the more you can discover how to reduce stress at work.
- Boundaries with coworkers. If you want to know how to
manage stress at work, consider your relationships with coworkers. If they
expect you to do their work or help in ways that make you uncomfortable,
it's important to stand up for yourself. Kindly let them know that you
aren't willing to do things that aren't your job or deal with their
- Boundaries with supervisors. When you're dealing with
managers, stress at work can seem insurmountable. You may not be able to
turn down assignments you don't like. What you can do, though, is to speak
up when your boss is being unreasonable or asking you to do things that
aren't a part of your job. Avoid doing personal errands for them. If you
do your job well, you shouldn't need to do things outside of your work
- Boundaries with friends and
Sometimes friends and family members can encroach on your work time. Let
them know that you're there for them when you're off work, but unless it's
an emergency, they need to avoid contacting you while you're on the job.
- Identify the problems
causing your stress. Sometimes, you can eliminate the source of
your stress. Start by identifying problems that are causing you stress. It
could be as simple as an ill-fitting pair of work boots or an argument
with a coworker. Make a list of problems that you might be able to solve.
- Brainstorm for solutions. Choose one of the problems
that's causing you stress and write it at the top of a paper. Then, as
fast as you can, write as many different solutions to the problem as
- Follow up with action. Choose the solution that
seems the most promising and put it into action. Even if it just helps a
little, it will help you feel more in control and less stressed at work.
- Unplug from digital work
chores. When you go home from work, disconnect from the digital world
of your workplace. Don't read your emails during your free time. If you
need to check them at home, set a specific time to do so, and then put it
out of your mind.
- Forget about work completely
for a while.
Take some time each day that you don't think about work at all. Remember
that resting your mind from the demands of work will make you much more
productive the next day.
- Engage in recreational
Recreational activities can help you recharge your energy and restore your
peace of mind. Go hiking or camping, take up a hobby, or go to a concert.
- Laugh with your friends. Laughter can be very
healing. Share your amusing observations about life with your friends. Get
together and watch a funny movie or tell your favorite jokes.
- Get closer to your loved
Sometimes, it's easy to get so wrapped up with what's happening at work
that you lose touch with the people who are most important to you. Share
moments of physical and emotional closeness with the ones you love.
- Talk to a trusted friend. Sometimes, when you just
can't figure out how to deal with stress at work, talking to a trusted
friend can help you feel better. Tell them about the situations, your
feelings, and your reactions to stress. If you keep your distress hidden
from the world, it will likely grow more upsetting. But, if you share it
with a trusted friend, you can put it into perspective and get some
- Join a support group. If you have a particular
challenge that's increasing your stress at work, going to a support group
can help you get your feelings out and find new solutions to your
problems. There are many support groups available for people with
addictions and mental health and medical conditions.
- Talk to a counselor. A counselor can help you
develop better ways of coping with stress at work. They can help you
accomplish many of the other ways of dealing with stress listed above. For
example, they can help you track your stress, use relaxation techniques
more effectively, learn to set boundaries, and think of new ways of
solving your stress-causing problems.
addition, a counselor can help you learn to think and behave differently about
stressful situations. You can talk to a Counselor at New Directions Counselling Services to receive
help with the work stress problems that are getting you down. When you do, both
your work and your personal life can become more enjoyable, fulfilling and