How to Cope with Stress at Work
How to Cope with Stress at Work
Everyone who has ever had a job has likely experienced work-related stress. The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey consistently finds that the majority of Americans find work stressful. Although work stress cannot be avoided entirely, chronic stress at work can lead to many mental and physical health issues. If not kept in check, stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body.
Symptoms of stress can include the rapid beating of your heart, muscle tension, inability to focus, reoccurring stomaches, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, skin conditions, digestive issues, and more.
By recognizing symptoms of stress and learning ways to manage stressful situations on and off the job, you can prevent these feelings from causing further harm to your mental and physical health. April is Stress Awareness Month and a perfect time for the counselors and therapists at Whole Journey to share some ways to tackle job-related stress. Whole Journey has office locations in Chesapeake, Richmond, and Charlotte.
Choose a Healthy Response
There are so many unhealthy ways to respond to stress at work. You might be tempted to hit up the vending machine for a snack when feeling stress levels rise or turn to alcohol use when you get home from the office. Take inventory of how you are responding to work-related stress and change to healthy responses.
Exercising can be a great stress reliever. When feeling overwhelmed, step away from your desk and take a walk around the building. Put in some headphones for some favorite music. Practice deep breathing techniques in high-stress moments. Box breathing can be a great way to create calm — count in as you breathe for 1,2,3,4,5, hold for five seconds and out for five, stay empty for five and repeat as needed. Call a friend to decompress or write in a journal.
Take Care of Yourself Outside of Work
To have the best physical and mental response to stress, you need to take care of yourself outside of the office, too. Get enough sleep each night (7-9 hours for adults), eat healthy meals, avoid overindulging in sweets, caffeine, and alcohol. Make time for things you love like playing games with family, hobbies, relaxing, etc.
When you leave work, you are officially off the clock. That means not responding to emails at all hours of the day, not reopening your computer after the kids go to bed, and understanding that your time is valuable. Management might expect that you will always be on-call but that is not healthy. Stand up for yourself by saying you will not respond to messages after a certain time and stand by those standards.
Recharge to Avoid Burnout
Burnout is a very real thing and it is not good for you. We all need time to reset, relax, and unplug. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. Take mental health days when needed. Don’t try to push through when feeling ill. Learn to recognize when you are on the brink of burnout and take positive action. Switch off devices when able. Take your lunch break. Eating at your desk is super common but there is a reason you get a lunch break, it is time to take a mental break from work.
Talk to Your Boss
If you are feeling chronically stressed, overwhelmed, and overworked, then be open with your supervisor. Ask for help or more time to complete projects. Or use this as a time to set the appropriate boundaries on your time and energy. Remember, you need to take care of yourself before you can truly do your job well.
Before chronic workplace stress becomes a serious health issue, get support. Seek out the help of a licensed mental health counselor or therapist who can give you the tools to cope with stress. Accept help from friends, family, or colleagues who recognize you could use a little assistance. Many employers offer employee assistance programs that help to cover the costs of mental health services.
The most important thing you can do to care for yourself and your loved ones is to recognize and seek help when you are feeling stressed. Your health and your time matter. At Whole Journey, we regularly help clients de-stress their lives by cutting out toxicity and learning valuable tools to manage stress.
Ready to begin counseling in Virginia?
Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia and North Carolina via our online and telehealth counseling platforms. We have office locations in Chesapeake, Richmond, and Charlotte. Our counselors are professionally trained in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We want to see you thrive. Call our office at 757-296-0800 to schedule an appointment.