According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), “job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and…it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.” Despite all of the technological advances that were supposed to make life and work easier, we as a society find ourselves more burnt out than less. AIS states that the top four stress related issues are workload (46%), “people” issues (28%), juggling work/personal lives (20%), and lack of job security at (6%).
Work stress has been linked to everything from emotional disorders to heart attacks so it is imperative that you do everything possible to achieve the work-life balance that can lead to as little stress as possible. Below are 7 steps you can implement (some immediately) to reduce your own workload stress.
- Choose your work associates wisely.
Like attracts like! If you surround yourself with people at work who are constantly negative and complaining, you will become that person as well and by default become more stressed. It is amazing how in the very same job, one can find people experiencing near heart attack level stress while others have never been happier. Sometimes it is related to the company you keep. Make a list of your top 3 associates at work. Are they bringing you up or brining you down? Are YOU bringing them up or bringing them down? Surround yourself with people who are positive and enthused about work and it will rub off on you.
- Make a workout routine and stick to it.
You are the number one person responsible for your health. Regular exercise can help you deal with work related stress. Commit to working out at least 30 minutes a day. While at work, engage in activities that keep your body active such as taking the stairs instead of elevators, sitting on a Swiss ball instead of an office chair to better stabilize your core, utilizing chair stretching routines, and walk outside during lunch time. Too many of us have jobs that are extremely sedentary but if you happen to have that type of job, you can still find ways to move.
- Pack your lunch!
Bringing your own lunch will prevent you from spending money on junk food every day, which you’re more likely to do if you’re stressed at work. Too many of us are stress eaters. At the very least, you want the foods you stress eat to be healthy. The more healthy food you can bring from home, including snacks to keep at your desk, the less likely you will be to consume food that is not healthy for you. Also remember to drink more water! The water cooler should not just be a place for gossiping. Drink the water!
4. Leave work AT work!
Do your best to not put yourself in a position where you are always available via text messages or emails by your supervisors. Your time after work should be YOUR time! Some of us get excited to have a nice work phone that makes us look more important. The problem is that doubling the number of phones you have can double your stress. Some of us also work in jobs where we work with people overseas, which can also lead to constant interaction with your job at all hours of the day. Set proper boundaries so you are not, in essence, “on call” 24/7.
- Keep work at work.
This is a little different from #5. Do not go home talking negatively about work and obsessing over things you cannot control. Use home to reconnect with family or engage in other hobbies like reading, exercise, and sleeping. We are not getting enough sleep in our society and adequate sleep is a major part of stress reduction. Also institute rules at home like “No tech at the table” so family meal times can be devoted to conversation or maybe journaling if you live alone and want to enjoy quiet time. You have to be proactive in putting your tech to the side so you can focus on getting back in touch with yourself.
- Seek out mentors.
If you really want to advance at your job, finding a mentor can prevent you from reinventing the wheel. Find someone at your job who can show you the ups and downs of the job. I have spoken to so many workers who had an “If I only knew then what I know now…” mentality. You can reduce a great deal of stress by learning from people who came before you. Do not expect people to volunteer to mentor you. You have to actually ask someone.
- Keep building on your skills.
The economy and skills that are valued are always changing. Always look for opportunities for growth. Take additional courses, read more books, look for other certifications that can help you advance. Watch more instructional YouTube videos instead of music videos and sports stories (unless they’re related to work). If you can show that you are committed to actual growth, you are going to gain more attention from the powers that be. Too many times people complain about their position at their job but are not doing anything to advance themselves. Do not fall into that trap!
At the end of the day, your happiness matters. To the best of your ability, find jobs that you are passionate about. As Zig Ziglar said, you career is what you’re paid for and your calling is what you’re made for. If you have not yet found that job you are passionate, at least put yourself in environments where you are celebrated and not tolerated, as Les Brown advises. Also consider starting your own business since many of us are building up the bottom line for our bosses while our own lines are bottoming out. You deserve the best and that requires dealing with as little stress as possible. Work should be a daring adventure, not a place of endless anger, frustration, boredom, and anxiety. You have the power to make it happen. Get to WORK!