It’s the first day of the working week for many people and work stress can become a problem as they think about what lies ahead. All the projects, tasks or jobs to do that came in on Friday afternoon the week before and which now await you on your return to work after the weekend. The endless stream of emails, messages and requests from work colleagues, customers, your boss… and the list goes on. The weekend quickly becomes a distant memory as you arrive at work and realise that it feels as though the weekend never happened. Sound familiar?
Workplace stress is one of the leading causes of absence from work and can be frustrating for both employers and employees alike. So what can you do to manage your stress levels? Here are some top tips:
Prioritise and organise your work
Create a balanced daily schedule and don’t try to fit too much into one day. If you find that you have too much work to manage on your own, organise tasks into ‘must do’ and ‘should do’. Remove any tasks from your to do list that are not truly necessary.
Break it into smaller steps
If you have a large project or task to complete, making a step by step plan can help you to focus on one step at a time, rather than trying to deal with everything at once.
Take regular breaks
Taking short regular breaks throughout the day can help to release stress and make you more productive. Step away from your desk or work environment and go for a short walk. Try not to eat lunch at your desk; lunchtime is for eating, not working.
Don’t leave things until last minute
Allow plenty of time in your schedule to complete each task. Instead of setting off at last minute to go to work, leave 10 to 15 minutes earlier. Running late just increases stress levels.
Avoid putting things off
Most jobs involve tasks that we would rather not do. Repeatedly postponing the undesirable tasks just adds more to your to do list. Tomorrow never comes, so do the unpopular tasks today, not tomorrow.
You don’t have to do everything yourself. If work colleagues are able to do some of the work, let them help. By letting go of the need to control everything, you also let go of unnecessary stress.
Take care of yourself
A healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise can increase your resilience to stress. By eating small, nutritious and regular meals, you can help your body to regulate blood sugar levels, which enables you to stay focused and keep your energy levels up. Exercise can also help to relieve stress by increasing energy, sharpening focus and encouraging mind and body relaxation.
An alcoholic drink is often a popular choice as a stress reliever, but it can also cause anxiety as the effects of the alcohol start to wear off. Instead of alcohol, drinking water or fruit juice can help you to feel better by re-hydrating your body and increasing energy levels.
Smoking when you’re stressed may seem tempting, especially as many people believe that cigarettes can help them to relax. But, nicotine is actually a powerful stimulant, so it can lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety. By cutting down or stopping smoking, you increase your body’s ability to relax and release stress.
Recognise the warning signs
When you feel stressed and overwhelmed at work, it can affect your confidence, it can cause you to become irritable or withdrawn and it can also make you less productive in your work. Some of the warning signs to look out for include:
- Feeling anxious, irritable or depressed
- Loss of interest in work
- Insomnia, tiredness and problems with sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscular tension and headaches or migraines
Ignoring the warning signs can lead to bigger problems, so by recognising that you are experiencing stress, you can take action now.
Take time out
Regular meditation, self hypnosis and mindfulness are great ways to help you relax, release stress, increase your self confidence and feel better. There are a variety of hypnosis downloads available online and taking time out for 20 to 30 minutes each day, can make a positive difference to your energy levels and help you to feel better.