Today, stress in the workplace is a big issue, and our always-on lifestyles, long office hours, and constant deadlines are beginning to take their toll. In fact, this year, the WHO identified burnout as a legitimate occupational health hazard, stating that, “burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
The thing is, there’s almost no job in the world that doesn’t contain at least a little stress, and often, this is a good thing. The right amount of stress keeps us on our toes, challenges us to do better, and helps us become creative in the face of crisis. However, when that stress becomes unmanageable, it can very quickly lead to “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.”
Naturally, these symptoms of burnout are highly detrimental to our professional lives, however, there are steps you can take to deal with work stress and beat the burnout without compromising your day-to-day efficacy and productivity.
Track Your Stressors
To begin with, if you want to manage stress levels then you first need to identify the source of your stress. Is it the constant unreachable deadlines? The mountains of passive-aggressive emails? A troublesome colleague? Whatever your specific stressors, you should keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and reaction. That way, you’ll be able to easily identify flashpoints in your day and address them as they arise.
Whether you’re constantly taking on more work than you can handle or you’re simply afraid to say “no”, establishing concrete boundaries is an important step to reducing stress. This might be switching off your phone or ignoring emails after you’ve left the office, or simply delegating tasks that you do not have time to complete. Drawing a line in the sand will immediately relieve some of that daily stress and improve your productivity when approaching other tasks.
Take a Break
Disconnecting from work throughout your working day may seem counterproductive when you’ve got impending deadlines. However, very often, the opposite is true, and approaching a task with a clear mind can help you focus and bring renewed energy to your work. Take regular breaks throughout the day and ensure you’re not thinking about work-related issues. Additionally, try meditation or yoga to help clear your mind and reset your energy levels.
Talk to Someone
If your stress levels are rising and you cannot manage your workload effectively, talking to someone can help. Whether it’s close colleague who can help you work through your triggers, or a supervisor/manager who may be able to reassess your responsibilities and take a little weight off your shoulders, a quick (or long) chat can make all the difference to your daily stress levels.
Get Some Help
This may seem obvious, but for managers and supervisors, sometimes the situation arises where you know your team will not be able to take on a specific job or project. Continuing with your existing staff not only puts undue pressure on your team, but you as well. In these instances, outsourcing tasks, jobs, or hiring new staff can make a real difference to everyone’s stress levels and give your team a real motivational boost. HR companies such as this can help you with outsourcing and recruitment, giving you and your team the opportunity to take a breath.
As part of a holistic stress management program, each of these elements can make a real difference to your day-to-day. However, if you continue to struggle with stress and you are afraid of burning out in your job, then speaking to a doctor may also be an option.
Finally, don’t be afraid to fail once in a while, as this can also help you realize that there’s very little worth stressing about in the first place—while also helping you move forward with renewed confidence and experience.