A little bit of stress at work is expected. The kind of stress that comes from meeting a deadline or responding to a difficult client can lift your performance and help you get better outcomes. But long-term or excessive stress can have a negative effect and impact not only our work but our personal lives and mental well-being.

There has been an increased focus on the negative effects of workplace stress and many employers are putting in place strategies to help their employees deal with challenges. But there are also things we can do as individuals to manage our work stress.

Avoid staying back too often

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 13 percent of employees work between 41 to 49 hours every week, and 15 percent work more than 50 hours. While deadlines and busy periods of work may mean staying back is unavoidable, continually working overtime can lead to stress and burnout.

Make it a priority to limit the amount of overtime you do. You may find this difficult at first if it has become the norm (or is part of your workplace culture). But even leaving on time just one day a week can make a difference to your mental well-being.

“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” – Gandhi

Take your annual leave

When it’s busy at work and you’ve got projects to complete, it’s easy to keep your head down and feel you can’t take time out for a holiday.

Taking a break from work, whether it’s a week’s holiday on the beach or a long weekend getaway, can help you get a different perspective on your projects. Taking time out can help to increase productivity and motivation as you hopefully come back to work with a new lease on life.

Set realistic deadlines

While we can’t always predict what will turn up on our desk on any given day, taking on too much is an easy way to get overwhelmed. Managing your schedule and having realistic deadlines can help prevent things from getting out of hand and will allow you to deliver your best work.

Before taking on a new project, consider all the steps involved and a reasonable timeframe to complete them. Factor in time to get approvals or deal with the unexpected. Then assess if the timeframe is reasonable and let your manager know if you need more time or help.

Take care of your physical and mental wellbeing

To perform our best at work requires more than just our skills and knowledge. We also need to be both physically and mentally well – and this starts outside of the office.

Schedule time each day for exercise and some fresh air – even just a brisk walk around the block will get the heart pumping and body moving.

Likewise, ensure you’re making time to relax and switch off. Meditation is a great way to destress and detach from negative or overwhelming thoughts. Or you might prefer reading a book, listening to music or having a massage – whatever it is, just focus on being in the moment.

Talk with someone

Sometimes our normal coping strategies aren’t working or we need a bit of extra assistance to deal with work stress or feeling overwhelmed. You might start by talking to your manager about the areas of work you need help with, and brainstorming some options together to address your concerns.

However, it can also be beneficial to talk to someone who is impartial and non-judgemental – particularly if you are finding it difficult to approach your manager. In this case, a psychologist can help by providing a warm and welcoming space for you to talk through your concerns and express how you feel without judgement.

If you’re experiencing workplace stress or other difficulties that are impacting your mental wellbeing and would like to find out how a psychologist can help, call Catherine Dove on 0415 990 175 for a confidential discussion.

Photo by Alex Ortlieb on Unsplash