How to Deal With Stress at Work

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Stressed at work? You feel irritable and lack motivation to finish the task at hand? You wish the alarm doesn’t ring in the morning to summon you to another grueling day at work? According to a Harris Interactive survey, conducted on behalf of Everest College, eight out of ten employed Americans experience at least one work-related stress. The finding has alarming implication as workplace stress can produce serious repercussions in the long run. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention points out that numerous studies show that stress can have an adverse effect on mood, sleep, digestive system, brain health (think headaches, brain fog), relationship and chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, weight and psychological disorders. Don't despair, learn these strategies for managing workplace stress.

Recognize Stressors

What is causing you stress at work? Is it the fear of layoff? Or dealing with a difficult boss or a difficult colleague? Are you overworked? Recognizing stressors at work will help you to tackle the problem head-on. Mayo Clinic suggests taking time to make a list of “situations, concerns or challenges that trigger your stress response.” It is as simple as taking out a piece of paper and writing down the issues that bother you. Recognizing these triggers can help you take positive actions to effectively deal with stress at work.

Take Time to Unwind

When you’re always on the go and your mind has no time to unwind, stress can get to you. Instead create little pockets of “me” time such as time to watch a movie, read a book, lounge by the pool, enjoy some relaxing massage or listen to music. Although these activities may seem counter-productive in one sense, they’re invaluable at renewing your emotional wellness and replenishing your energy. According to an article in New York Times, these “renewing” activities such as taking breaks during work help to combat stress and improve productivity.


Exercise does the body good and that extends to mental and emotional health as well. Harvard Health expounds the benefits of exercise: it reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and increases endorphins, chemicals that work like painkillers and mood enhancers. Endorphins produce the “feel good and relaxed” feeling, which is both liberating and empowering. When your body feels strong and empowered, you feel like you can take on the world and deal with stress at work more easily. Whether you workout in the gym or play a sport you enjoy, exercise fuels body, mind and emotional health.

Calm Your Mind

When you have more than you can chew or chew off more than you can handle, you feel overwhelmed. Stress sets in and it may interfere with your work performance. When that happens, remember a simple yet effective way to calm your mind: take a deep breath. Breathe in (hold for 5 seconds) and breathe out. Sharon Melnick, the author of Success Under Stress, said that even a few minutes of deep breathing can restore calm and clear your head. And when you’re thinking clearly and calmly, the situation at hand may not seem like a mountain. Meditation and yoga also help to calm the mind and help you deal with stress at work.

Stress Coping Strategies

You can’t always prevent stress but you can develop stress coping strategies. Too much work? Prioritize. Do what is urgent and necessary first and get to the rest when you can. Saddle with too many responsibilities? Oregon State University suggests saying no to taking more than you can handle. The trick is to know your own limits and stick to them. Dealing with an unreasonable boss? Learn to be assertive but polite. Is workplace stress getting to you, bringing you down emotionally? Talk to your spouse or a good friend because, sometimes, a good pair of listening ears is all you need to defuse the stress. And never underestimate the power of a good cry.Crying, especially emotional tears help to expel stress hormones and release pent-up tension. So go ahead, excuse yourself if you must and give yourself a good cry.

Little Stress Busters

You’ve been told not to sweat the small things but when it comes to dealing with stress at work, little stress busters can yield big benefits as in the case of stress balls. When you feel stressed and need to take it out on something, take out your stress ball (yes, the smiley squeeze ball you stash in the drawer) and give it a good squeeze or two. According to Dr. David Pozen, the author of Is Work Killing You, “The benefit of squeezing is that it releases some kind of energy—it also induces you to relax.” Other stress-busters include watching a swinging pendulum or working on a relaxing task such as coloring,

Aromatherapy at Work

Overworked and need a lifter-upper? You may want to consider aromatherapy. According to theUniversity of Maryland Medical Center, some researchers believe that essential oil molecules help to alleviate physical, mental and emotional health. Put a diffuser on your desk with some invigorating scents like lemon, grapefruit or Eucalyptus. Certain scents like chamomile, bergamot, lavender and peppermint help to relieve emotional and mental stress at work. When your work station smells good, you will feel invigorated and energized to deal with stress at work.

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