Management Matters

How to Reduce Workplace Stress

Date Posted: 11/25/2015

There is a difference between stress and pressure. Having some pressure at work can often motivate us and our employees and help us to perform better but when the pressure becomes excessive and out of control it turns into workplace stress. While some occasional workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can impact our productivity at work and affects our ability to interact with our boss, colleagues and even family members. The level of stress one has mainly varies on how one reacts to it. Our emotions are contagious – the better we are at managing our own stress, the more we’ll positively affect our colleagues and employees and the less their stress will negatively affect us.

Workplace stress can be caused by many factors like heavy workload, over-supervision, changes within the organization, poor relationships with colleagues, managers or bosses, unfair pay, etc.

Here are some signs of workplace stress which can manifest in physical, psychological and behavioral in any employee:

    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Heart Tremors
    • Sleeping Difficulties
    • Depression
    • Apathy
    • Anxiety
    • Hopelessness
    • Insomnia
    • Resentment
    • Irritability
    • Boredom
    • Disillusionment
    • Disgruntle
    • Doubt
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Overly Cynical
    • Dread going to work
    • Chronic exhaustion
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Procrastination
    • Poor work performance
    • Conflicts with colleagues or supervisors
    • Reliance on drugs or alcohol

Most employees are reluctant to talk about stress at work, due to the stigma attached to it. They fear that the stress will be seen as weakness and incompetence. However, no employer should subject their employees to work-related stress and this is an issue both employer and employees should take seriously. Management should help employees identify and manage stress at work by providing achievable solutions. Here are some tips to help you and your employees manage stress in the workplace:

Trim down to-do lists

No matter how good we are at multitasking, we will find ourselves playing catch up with less important tasks.  Prioritize things that are most important.  If there are things we absolutely MUST handle, take care of them first.  The things that are not that important yet urgent might be delegated to someone else or tackled later. Don’t try and finish everything today!

Think ahead

Planning projects ahead and doing them before deadlines can lessen stress. Consider how long it will take for tasks or projects to be completed to better manage expectations.

Get organized

When we have order in our day, we feel more in control of what to do first. Plan and direct a complex undertaking by systematic planning with achievable deadlines so that it can be undertaken as a united effort. Bringing order, organization and structure to our work helps us operate according to some principle or ideal.

Set boundaries

Set an end to our workday and work to achieve the goals we set for the day so that we can leave at a specific time and feel good about ending the workday.

Act rather than react

In a typical work day, we can’t avoid phone calls, people popping in and urgent deadlines to make our day difficult. While we can’t control these sudden interruptions, we can control our reaction – accept, evaluate its importance and make a plan. Normally, we’re in control of our actions and responses but not in control of the external factors or someone else’s response.

Regular exercise

Exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Activity that raises our heart rate and makes us sweat has the effect of lifting our mood, increasing energy, relaxing both mind and body. When we find our stress level on the rise, get up and move. Proper exercise for even 30 minutes a day has been proven to reduce stress.

Take regular breaks

Sure we can work 3 to 5 hours straight but it’s advisable to take a 5 to 10 minute break away from our computer every hour or so. Eat a snack, take a short walk, or do anything not related to work. These short breaks a day can help us to relax and recharge to become more productive.


Relax by meditating, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk, etc. The motivating power behind our work should be enjoyment rather than wanting. Remember that stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there”.

Talk it out with someone

Having a friend to vent out to can be a great relief. Just the process of letting it out can help minimize the stress and gives us an easier and clearer picture of the whole issue. We don’t have to do it alone; we can ask for help.

Let go of unrealistic goals

Nothing wrong in dreaming big but setting goals that are too high to achieve can bring failure and elevate stress. One must be open to accept that goals can change so be ready to adapt to any situation. Flexibility is the key.

Be present

When we spend too much time thinking of the past or imagining the future then it becomes easy to worry and get stressed out. When instead of acting against a situation, you merge with it; the solution arises out of the situation itself. Then, if action is possible or necessary, you take action or rather, right action happens through you.

Disconnect over the weekend

Practice good work-life balance. Stay away from work related stuff over the weekend. Try to look for something we love to do, make time for it; as this type of activities can relieve stress and energize us. Remember, all work and no play is a recipe for burn out.

Take vacations

Taking vacations and spending some quality time with friends and family is a good way to reduce stress. Beneficial effects of vacationing last up to 5 weeks after returning to work.

Get enough sleep

In order to recover from continuing stress, eliminate or reduce the demands on our body and mind with proper sleep. Sleep of six to eight hours per 24 hours is most important in replenishing our body’s and mind’s resources. Too little sleep can have a negative effect on job performance and productivity. Sleep can also improve memory and recharge our physical energy.

Looking for ways to manage workplace stress does not necessarily mean changing career or making huge changes but focusing on what we can do for ourselves. Keep in mind that stress starts in the mind hence it is important to fuel our minds with positive, happy, gratitude-filled thoughts and lessen thoughts that trigger stress.

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