When your daily workplace is a stressful business environment, it is necessary to adjust your lifestyle in order to succeed and cope. While general workplace rules still apply, there are some specific steps that you can take in order to be more successful and overcome the stress at your job.
Method 1 of 5:Identify the Source of Stress
1Identify if you have an abusive boss or coworkers. Your job may be unnecessarily stressful due to a hostile work environment created by an abusive boss or coworkers. Is your boss a narcissist, manipulating others and taking credit for their work? Do they use fear and intimidation to bully employees? Are you or others sexually harassed or treated differently based on your race, gender, or age?
These issues should not be ignored. Keep a record of any incidents. Talk to your company's human resources department or, if there is no HR department, talk to a supervisor or higher up, or a union representative. If that isn't an option, talk to a lawyer. Simply threatening to sue might be enough to get things to change.
An abusive boss or any form of harassment is not okay. You may have grounds to pursue legal action against them.
Leaving your job for a healthier environment is also a possibility. Sometimes the entire culture of a company is toxic, and you are better off making an exit and going somewhere with a better environment.
2Notice any illegal or unsafe activities. Are you being asked to falsify logs, documents, data or otherwise commit fraud? Do you have a coworker asking you to cover for them and lie about something? Do you notice clear safety violations in your workplace, but management refuses to correct them when confronted? These, along with things like selling of controlled substances, theft, and harassment should be reported. If management is not aware of these problems, speak to them or the HR department. If management is part of the problem, then it may be necessary to involve the authorities.
If your safety is at risk, get out of the situation as soon as possible. Tell your boss you won't work in unsafe conditions.
Make sure that the law is in fact being violated before taking action. In some cases, the management may not be aware that the activity is occurring or may not know they are violating a law. The first step is to try and be collaborative when dealing with the issue, especially if you want to continue to work there.
You might say something like,"I'm happy to work the overtime if you want, but remember I'm non-exempt, so the company is required by federal law to pay for it."
If nothing changes, weigh your options. Unfortunately, pursuing legal action against a company may have a negative impact on your career. Try consulting an employment attorney to find out your options if you decide to become a whistle-blower while at the company or after you leave. You will likely need to take very specific actions to protect yourself.
There are laws against retaliation and whistleblowing.
3Ask yourself if it is performance-related. You may be stressed out at work because you realize you haven't had the appropriate training to do your job well or efficiently. Or perhaps you are expected to do a certain amount of work during an unreasonably short time period. Or perhaps you have no idea what the expectations are — there may be little or no direction, leaving you confused about what needs to get done.
A lack of communication can often turn a workplace toxic. If employees rarely feel like they know what is going on or are the last to hear about decisions that have been made, discuss solutions with your management. A log book, in which new information is available for employees to read at the start of each shift, or daily or weekly meetings to inform employees of any changes could potentially help improve communication.
Ask your boss about receiving additional training or if you can sit down and review the company's objectives.
4Consider if it has to do with the nature of the work. Some jobs, like being a first responder or working in an emergency room, are inherently stressful. Ask yourself if your job is, by its nature, stressful. If that's the case, ask yourself if you are willing to live with that. If so, take measures to learn to deal with stress in healthy, constructive ways so that it doesn't interfere with your health and wellbeing.
Method 2 of 5:Keeping Expectations Realistic
1Set ambitious goals. Ambitious goals can still be realistic. The key to keeping goals realistic is to make sure they are clear and that you allow yourself enough time to get them accomplished.
Goals need a plan of action in order to be possible. Don't make a goal without also making a plan for accomplishing it.
Use short-term milestones to mark your progress and keep motivation up.
2Focus on solutions. If you're always thinking about the problems, you won't have any time to think about the solutions to those problems. It can be difficult sometimes to come up with the solution to a problem, but once you do, take steps to implement it. This will help you feel that you're making positive steps forward.
If you can't figure out a solution, talk to a coworker whom you trust, or ask your supervisor for guidance.
3Accept the limitations of deadlines. Many business environments run on strict deadlines. This can be great for making sure things get done. However, if deadlines are particularly tight, you need to accept that quality may suffer.
If quality is of the utmost importance, let your supervisor or the client know that pushing back the deadline would allow for higher quality work. They may be flexible.
If you're always working toward a deadline, learn how to combat your own tendencies toward procrastination.
4Look at the big picture. Remember that the job is not your entire life. Neither is your role in the business the thing upon which the entire company rests. Take some time to zoom out and think about the other things in your life that are important. Think about all of the other people who make the business work, even when you're not there.
Think about your family, your friends, and your hobbies. This is likely not the first job you've ever had, and it may not be the last. Keep things in perspective.
The company was most likely doing fine before you were hired, and it would survive tomorrow without you, too. It's good to take your work seriously, but don't let the stakes seem higher than they are.
5Keep your sense of humor. This can be tough if your workplace is particularly stressful. However, people who thrive in stressful environments often are able to survive because they are able to see the humor in a situation and not take things too seriously.
If you have funny or charming coworkers, let yourself be amused by them. Don't get bogged down with frustration because they seem to be a little less efficient.
Remember that you're doing your best, and that mistakes can be funny sometimes. Don't beat yourself up over a goofy typo or when you accidentally hit “Reply All.”
Method 3 of 5:Managing Your Workload
1Clarify your specific duties. Often, workplaces become more stressful when boundaries and responsibilities are blurred. If you suspect that some of your stress comes from taking on others' responsibilities or not knowing what yours are, get clarification from a supervisor.
You can say something like, “I've been handling all of the outgoing mail. I'm able to do it, but it takes up a good part of my day. I wanted to make sure that this is in fact my responsibility, just so that I'm not doing someone else's job or using my time poorly.”
If someone else has been taking on your tasks in a way that is frustrating, you can say, “Hey, I'm pretty sure that I'm managing the Pinky account. Do you know if that's changed? If it hasn't, I'd rather keep working on it by myself, so that I can keep track of any changes. When you take on certain aspects of it, I can't be sure what the last communication with Pinky has been.”
Refer back to the best practices or the employee handbook if you received one when you started.
2Organize your work space. Sometimes, you may feel too stressed out or overwhelmed to spend much time organizing your work space. However, organizing your work space can help you improve time management and keep on top of the most important tasks on your to-do list.
Clear off your desk. Throw anything irrelevant or unnecessary away, or take it home.
Group similar items, or items related to similar tasks together.
Create a meeting folder that contains things that need discussion.
Keep your space clean and organized by tidying it and clearing piles weekly.
3Prioritize tasks. If you just have one disorganized to-do list, you may not be prioritizing tasks efficiently. Not everything needs to be done on the same timeline. Make sure your to-do list puts things in order of importance, so that you can determine what to focus on first.
Remember that there's a difference between"urgent"and"important."
If something will take a long period of time, or sustained effort, makes sure to schedule it in a way that prevents procrastination.
4Take breaks. When you're really stressed out, taking breaks might seem like the last thing you should do. You already have too many tasks to cram into your day, so how can you possibly dedicate 15 minutes to doing nothing? While that reasoning might seem to make sense, taking a short break can actually increase your productivity by helping you focus and relax.
Many people benefit from a method of working in a very focused way for 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute break.
Make breaks actual breaks. Don't think or talk about work. Stand up and stretch, go outside, and leave your computer and phone at your desk.
5Stop multitasking. Multitasking can seem like a great idea in a busy workplace. It helps you get multiple things done at the same time, right? Not exactly. Studies have shown that multitasking is actually not very productive and that humans do best when focusing on one task at a time.
If a coworker or supervisor suggests that you should be multitasking, you can say something like, “I'm actually at my most productive when I focus on one thing at a time. The quality of my work is important to me, and if I multitask, I know that the quality of my work slips. However, when I can focus on one thing at a time, I get things done well and on time.
Method 4 of 5:Developing Routines
1Get enough sleep. This may be hard if you have many other obligations, or if you tend to take your work home with you; however, sleep is one of the most important things you can do to ease the burdens of a stressful workplace. Without enough sleep, you won't have the energy to get everything done at work.
Practice good sleep hygiene and make sure your sleeping environment is as conducive to sleep as possible. Make sure it's dark, quiet, and a reasonable temperature. Turn off the TV, the computer, and your phone to be free from interruptions while you sleep.
If you can't sleep later in the morning, try to go to sleep earlier.
2Simplify your wardrobe. This may seem silly, but simplifying what you wear can actually take a lot of stress out of your routine. Each morning, you won't have to agonize over getting dressed and making sure everything matches. Choose clothing pieces that easily go together, and that don't require too much maintenance.
Choose subtle, solid colors, as they go well together very easily.
Choose clothes that fit you well and are relatively comfortable. Being stressed out and physically uncomfortable is a terrible combination.
Set out your clothes before you go to bed. This will save you time and stress in the morning.
3Set aside time for emails and calls. Dealing with emails and important phone calls may take up a lot of your day, or only some of it. Either way, it's important to dedicate a specific time for these communications, rather than trying to squeeze them in throughout the day. For instance, returning phone calls between 11:00 to 11:30 AM and 3:30 to 4:00 PM.
Some people prefer to start their day by returning all phone calls and emails immediately. Others set aside time at the end of the day.
Don't attempt to multitask when dealing with communications. The person you're talking to will likely notice you're distracted, or your emails may be sloppy.
4Take your lunch break and recharge. You're supposed to eat lunch everyday; but if you work in a very stressful environment, you may skip lunch occasionally, or just eat something from the vending machine. But lunch shouldn't just be about cramming food into your mouth. It's a time to take a break and breathe each day.
No matter how busy and stressed you are, make your lunch break a priority. Take it at the same time each day, and use the entirety of your lunch break to refuel and center yourself for the rest of the day.
If you have lunch with coworkers, make a practice of avoiding shop talk while you eat. Make sure you don't accidentally keep working while you're supposed to be taking a break.
Schedule short breaks to take a walk. Adding a little exercise to your routine and getting outside of the building if possible can help renew your energy.
5Break your caffeine habit. Many people come to rely on coffee, energy drinks, or caffeinated tea to keep them going, caffeine adds to stress. It can elevate your blood pressure and heart rate, increase stress hormone levels and may exacerbate your feelings of stress.
In addition, try to reduce or cut out tobacco use. Many people use tobacco to cope with stress, because nicotine causes your brain to release dopamine, which feels good. This is, however, a short-term response, and smoking causes an elevation in blood pressure and heart rate and reduces the oxygen available to your brain, ultimately increasing stress.Trustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Method 5 of 5:Managing Your Stress
1Ask for leave when you need it. This will not always work, but it's worth trying. If you need to take time off because of family obligations, or simply because you're getting burnt out, talk to your supervisor and see if it might be possible to take some time off.
It's unlikely that most places will offer you paid time off, but you may be able to take time off if you can manage without a paycheck during that time.
You can ask for a chunk of time off, such as a week or two, or you can ask for a shorter work day or week.
Let your supervisor know that you're requesting leave so that you can continue to be a productive employee. Say something like, “I know it would mean taking some time away from the office, but it would guarantee that I was able to fully commit once I came back, and that I'd have the energy to contribute 100% while I'm here.”
2Eat a healthy diet. When you're stressed out, it might be tempting to reach for comfort foods; however, these are often full of sugar, fat, and empty calories that can leave you feeling lethargic and out of control. Aim for high fiber foods and healthy carbohydrates to keep you going.
Carbohydrates help the brain to produce serotonin, which can help you feel relaxed when you're stressed. Reach for healthy carbs like brown rice or sweet potatoes, rather than white flour.
Fruits and vegetables contain lots of fiber and make great snacks when you're on the go.
3Exercise. Exercise is a great way to manage stress. It releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good physically and emotionally. Aim for regular exercise that gets your heartrate up but doesn't leave you feeling fatigued or depleted.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Choose an exercise method that you enjoy. If you find it unpleasant, it will just be another stressor in your life. Choose a sport or class that you find fun and interesting.
Consult with a doctor before taking up any kind of exercise program.
Ease into exercise slowly. Don't overdo it or go to extremes right away.
4Meditate. Meditation is a great tool for reducing stress. You might not think you have time for it, but some techniques can take as little as a few minutes per day. Devotees of meditation often feel that the time they invest in meditation comes back to them many-fold in the energy it gives them to face the rest of their day.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
There are many different types of meditation. Find one that seems like a good fit for you.
You can fin guided meditations online. Your town may also have a meditation center or group where you can connect with other people interested in meditating.
If you practice a religion, there may be meditations based in that tradition that would feel good to you.