Manage Stress At Work: Dos and Don’ts to Prevent Burnout

Written by Priyanka Agarwal, Writer at Hola Health
Medically Reviewed by Amira Shah, MA in Couselling Psychology, Registered Psychotherapist, B.Ed with Guidance & Councelling B.Arts

In today’s fast-moving world, stress at work has become a common phenomenon for almost everyone. It refers to the mental exertion experienced by individuals due to the demands related to their work. Teeny-weeny stress is not a problem. It helps to stay alert and focused and prepares you to meet new challenges in your workplace. However, if the stress is persistent and exceeds your capacity, it stops being helpful and starts impacting you personally and professionally. Hence, it is extremely important to understand that managing work stress successfully is the key to boosting productivity.

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Alarming Signs of Work-Related Stress

  • Fatigue: Fatigue is a constant feeling of relentless exhaustion and lack of energy. It is a common workplace problem and every year many Australians see their doctor due to fatigue. So, if your energy levels go down significantly, be sure that your work stress is taking its toll. 
  • Feeling Anxious: If you feel overburdened and you find yourself constantly worrying about your work, believe it to be a sign of work stress.
  • Lack of Sleep: If you feel you are not getting proper sleep, it’s a red flag. Make sure you address it as soon as possible.
  • Headaches: Headaches or muscle tension can be your body’s way of letting you know that it is under a lot of pressure.
  • Social Withdrawal: If you start avoiding your colleagues and friends, it’s time to take charge of the stressors in your workplace.
  • Change in Appetite: Stress at work can sometimes attack your appetite. You might not feel hungry like you used to and even your most-liked food might not attract you. Alternatively, you might find yourself gorging on food more often than usual. So, if you notice changes in appetite, get ready to seek support.
  • Low Self-Esteem: If you start feeling sceptical about your abilities owing to the challenges at work, it’s essential to recognise it as a symptom of stress.
  • Loss of Sex Drive: Work stress can affect your sex life considerably. It can impact your eagerness for intimacy. You might feel too tired to indulge or you may lose interest in it completely. This change in your sex drive is an indication that it’s time to take action.
  • Using Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: Getting inclined towards unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs to cope with your work pressures is also a sign of stress at work. They might tempt you but can lead to other major health problems.
  • Mood Swings: If your emotions fluctuate unpredictably due to challenges at work, it is a signal of work-related stress.

What To Do When You Are Stressed at Work?

If you wish to know how to relieve stress at work, here is a to-do list ready for you.

1. Adopting Relaxation Techniques

Maintaining calmness throughout the day by slowing down deliberately and paying attention to your environment is a great way to relax. Stress can be reduced by meditation and deep breathing which can be performed anywhere. Thus, it is a convenient method to decrease tension. 

2. Taking Timely Breaks

Pausing work to take tiny breaks is another beneficial way to handle stress at work.  You may engage in simple activities like talking to your colleagues, taking a stroll around, or savouring a hearty meal before you get back to work. You can always set aside some time every hour to perform tasks that might de-stress you. It can be as simple as staring out of the window or listening to music.

3. Giving Up On Perfectionism

The notion of perfectionism can be a major disadvantage while attempting to meet the needs of work life. The idea of performing tasks flawlessly can cause you to worry way more than you should. Instead of trying to be perfect at your job, try to handle matters healthily by working slowly but effectively and maintaining a work-life balance.

4. Planning Vacations

Stress leave from work is something that you should do at least once a year. Going on a relaxing vacation can be incredibly beneficial. Disconnecting from work obligations and focusing on relaxation for a change, can be a great way to unwind.  It is not always necessary to travel around the globe, visiting nearby destinations for a short staycation can also be refreshing.

5. Being Self-Aware

Self-awareness is a great way to assess how stress might affect you. Identifying symptoms of stress such as appetite changes, insomnia and low self-esteem is the first step towards recovery. Being in tune with how you feel can help you control your daily activities while you try to relieve stress. It is easier to reduce tension as long as you keep your eyes open and detect any changes taking place physically and mentally. 

6. Effective Time Management

Designating particular time slots for both work and leisure can help us focus better and yield more outcomes. Managing your time can potentially reduce tension and help you tackle procrastination as well.  

7. Eliminating Negative Thinking

A negative thought process can hinder your work performance. When you’ve been under a constant state of stress, your mind can interpret situations in a negative light. Try to steer away from negativity and start viewing everything through a positive lens. In this way, you can easily regulate your stress level. 

8. Social Networking

Indulging in social activities like dancing, meeting loved ones and visiting restaurants can aid you in relieving stress. Relying on close friends and family can help you alleviate your stress and in turn, reduce tension. It is always advisable to socialise at least once a week to stay in touch with individuals whom you admire.

9. Avoiding Gossip

Investing time in gossiping can risk your peace at work as it leads to conflict. You should aim to stay out of situations that contain unnecessary gossip. Limit your interactions with colleagues who indulge in rumours. This will help you focus on more worthwhile goals and will also save your reputation from getting tarnished.

10. Constant Communication With Superiors

Maintaining some sort of contact with your superiors can reduce burnout. You can make an effort to speak with your supervisor if you’re thinking about how to lower stress. Conversing about finding solutions to problems together can ease tension and can also help you gain the trust of your superiors. In case you do not get along well with your manager, contacting the Human Resource Management team is also beneficial.

11. A Change In Lifestyle

Incorporating healthy habits like physical fitness, eating a balanced diet, adequate sleep and decreasing alcohol consumption can help you reduce stress. Moreover, it can help you lead a balanced life

12. Flexibility Of Working Hours

Working extra or longer hours should be reduced to deal with stress. It is essential to avoid working overtime. In case you find it difficult to organise your daily chores as well as work, you can try speaking to your manager if you require a more flexible time for work.

13. Support From Colleagues

Being supported by a strong support system at work can easily help you tackle the challenges of your job. Sharing your problems with colleagues and being receptive towards theirs, is a great way to enrich relations with them. You should also make efforts to get to know them more often in your break time. In this way, you will have someone to reach out to in case you require empathy from people who can understand your struggle.

14. Seek Professional Guidance

Do not hesitate to look for professionals in the field of mental health if stress is overpowering your willingness to work and perform daily chores. Therapists or counsellors can assist you in maintaining a balanced life and dealing with work stress at the same time.

What NOT to Do When You Are Stressed at Work?

When you are stressed at work, be sure to tackle the situation sensibly to avoid making things worse. Here is a list of a few things that you should completely bypass.

1. Avoid Suffering In Silence

Do not keep quiet about what is troubling you. If you try to repress your problems, they are more likely to cause anxiety and stress. Try to find answers to your concerns by talking to colleagues, family members, friends or counsellors.

2. Refrain From Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Avoid consuming alcohol or drinking too much caffeine while you are stressed. These coping strategies seem to be fruitful momentarily but they turn out to be harmful in the long run. 

3. Do Not Procrastinate

Procrastinating instead of working can cause you stress if it results in working overtime and extra workload. It is always advisable to avoid procrastination and get done with tasks according to their respective deadlines.

4. Never Compromise On Your Sleep

Focus on getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night to strengthen your healing journey and increase your capacity for stress management.

5. Do Not Set Unrealistic Goals

To maintain your mental health, you should limit your irrational hopes and wants. Avoid focusing on goals that are not easily achievable. Rather, try to adopt a step-by-step method where you take things slowly and sequentially to obtain the best results.

6. Don’t Panic

When you are stressed, it’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed. You may panic, but panicking will not resolve the problem. It will only aggravate it, hence stay calm and take a deep breath.

7. Do Not Overload Yourself

Doing too much work when you are already stressed will only make things tougher. Learn to assign tasks or ask for help when needed.

8. Do Not Take It Out On Others

It’s natural to feel annoyed when stressed. But lashing out at your colleagues or associates will not only worsen the situation but also affect relationships. So, always be patient and respectful.

Importance Of Your Mental Health At Work

Your mental health at work is vital as it affects your feelings, performance, and accomplishments. Just like the way we take care of our bodies by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising, taking care of our mental health means making sure we feel good mentally and emotionally. When you are mentally happy at work, you handle stress better and make healthy decisions. You are more likely to enjoy your work and get along with your contemporaries. Alternatively, if you are wrestling with your mental health at work, it can make things difficult and pull you down further. You might have trouble focusing, feel exhausted or irritable, and even start to fear going to work. So, it’s imperative to prioritise your mental health at work and reach out for help if required. Taking care of your mental health is great for your work satisfaction too.

Effects Of Stress In The Workplace

Work-related stress can have serious and long-lasting effects. As a result, it is more important to look into the matter as quickly as you can. It can adversely affect both you and the company. A brief exposure to stressful situations is less likely to burn you out, but regular stress can drain you of energy. 

Prolonged stress can affect us mentally, physically, and emotionally which can lead to headaches, tiredness, irritability, anxiety, and forgetfulness. The effects of work-related stress can be considerable and long-term. It can lead to cardiovascular diseases, immune deficiency disorders, and psychological distress. 

Increased stress can also affect the organisation unfavourably and can result in limited productivity, low morale, and staff turnover. Therefore it is advisable to delve deep into managing stress levels to avoid unexpected consequences.

When To Seek Help

When work stress makes it challenging to handle day-to-day activities, impacts relationships, or damages mental health, it’s time to seek professional help. If you feel restless or have physical problems due to work stress and if you are unable to deal with it despite trying self-help measures, it is better to talk to a counsellor for advice. A professional is experienced to listen and provide assistance without being judgmental. They can help you understand the cause of your stress and guide you accordingly. By expressing your feelings and concerns to them, you might get a new outlook on your situation and learn coping techniques that essentially work for you.

Still looking for an answer to how to relieve stress? Although stress at work may be expected, it certainly doesn’t have to dictate one’s wellness. By enforcing simple strategies, we can keep stress at bay and encourage a more pleasing work experience. Overall, while the article offers generally sound advice for managing stress, it’s important to remember that individual experiences with stress may vary, and seeking professional guidance may be necessary for addressing chronic or severe stressors.

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Reference

  1. Outcomes of work-related stress – Reference Link
  2. Fatigue – Reference Link

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.