Strategies to Manage Work-related Stress: Your Complete Guide

by Nick Collins

Are you feeling stressed taking numerous work calls, coping with multiple deadlines at a time, and rushing from one task to another? Then you, just like 46% of achievers at EU, experience high workplace stress. We can attribute this number to an ongoing trend that multitasking is a sign of productivity or culture where feeling stressed means being productive. It's an evil that stands in your way to a flourishing and satisfying career.

However, it's not true, as studies have shown that long-term exposure to stress reduces performance and increases the risk for mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The issue of workplace stress is getting worse with time. The pressure became a burden for busy people, organizations, and society. So let's discover how workplace stress has become an epidemic in today's world and the ways for you to overcome it.

Woman stressed at her workplace

Reasons why you can experience stress at work

It's important to remember that it isn't always easy to discern the difference between work-related stress and other forms of stress that may have their roots outside of work. "Stress" is an umbrella term covering a wide range of emotions, from being frustrated to being anxious, resulting from encountering difficulties or even anticipating them. However, stress at work comes in many forms and can lead to significantly deteriorating consequences for your productivity.

When you feel the onset of work-related stress, the most important thing is to figure out what causes your strain. It could be a combination of factors like:

  • lack of support from managers
  • poor organization
  • overestimated expectations
  • miscommunication within your team
  • high workloads.

Poor relationships at work are a significant cause of workplace stress. You can also feel tension because of high expectations, unrealistic deadlines, and lack of breaks. Lack of support or understanding also contributes to this stress. Few opportunities for growth or advancement are another thing that can contribute to workplace stress.

Four persons communicating at work

Workplace stress can be a severe health risk, and we need to take steps to reduce its impact. Symptoms of work-related stress generally come in mood swings, low energy, headaches, and an upset stomach. These signs are usually more common in those people whose work is more demanding or intense than others. Tracking your stress levels is the easiest way to know if you are at risk of experiencing these symptoms.

The link between stress and your productivity in the workplace

The brain is a complex organ, but one of its most essential functions serves as a control center for all of the body's mental and physical activities. The brain focuses on survival and reproduction and less on higher-level tasks when under stress. So how exactly stress may alter your work performance and affect productivity?

Stress may disrupt your focus

One of the severe drawbacks of stress on your brain is the disruption of your focus. Stress causes your brain to be distractible and unable to concentrate on anything for long periods. When your body is stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released, which interrupts the communication between neurons in the brain and makes it challenging to stay focused on one task.

Recently studies have found that stress can impair your attention span, working memory, and ability to access knowledge from your long-term memory. The effects of stress on your brain performance can be long-term and lead to more severe health problems like depression or anxiety.

Woman that can't focus at work because of stress

Stress may worsen your relations with colleagues and boss

Stress has become an inherent part of office life in the modern world. Brought on by long hours at work, juggling multiple projects simultaneously, or a lack of communication, workplace stress can affect your professional performance and relationships.

People under stress are in a state of constant arousal. Tension makes the person more irritable and less effective in work-related communication. It affects all other aspects of life, from relationships with friends and family to problems at the office. Stress at the workplace can lead to increased streaks of estrangement with your colleagues or boss, less coordinated working ergonomics, lowered productivity, or missed deadlines due to burnout.

Stress may impair your brain productivity

When we're dealing with stressful events, we can't process information. Our amygdala - the brain center primarily responsible for general emotional reactions - goes into overdrive. The prefrontal cortex, responsible for logic and the ability to control impulses, slows down.

New research shows that prolonged stress or chronic stress is linked to lower cognitive functions – including creativity, problem-solving skills, and thinking speed. Furthermore, cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, has been known to damage one's ability of problem-solving skills and creativity over time.

Man working on his laptop at the cafe

The experience of stress causes changes in both the arousal level and activity in a part of the front brain called the prefrontal cortex, affecting regions like the amygdala. Chronic stress may directly result in reduced blood flow to these brain parts. It may have devastating health effects and lead to poor functioning throughout life – beyond only your workplace.

How they do it: famous achievers' strategies to fight stress

What are the unique methods people apply to maintain high work productivity despite stress? Firstly, finding a success strategy - physical activity, massages, reading, or listening to a podcast. Secondly, find a role model who sets an example of how you want the future to be (for example, aim to stretch yourself realistically). If there is someone you look up to and feel pushes themselves more than you do, then follow their lead.

That's why it'd be helpful to discover how successful people manage stress and stay on a productivity wave. Let's take a sneak peek at the special stress-relieving rituals of famous achievers:

Oprah Winfrey practices "stress-relieving mornings"

Oprah Winfrey's jam-packed routine starts with waking up early since she believes that her "morning is her most productive and strategical time of life." Only after eating her healthy & filling breakfast does she proceed to review her schedule. She also practices yoga or pilates every morning and drinks enough water.

Woman practising yoga before work to reduce stress

These "jam-packed mornings" help your body feel the energy and relax right after waking up instead of pushing it to the stressful activities. You'll prepare it for a more productive, meaningful workday.

Jeff Bezos takes serious tasks with a laugh

Jeff Bezos is one of the most famous tech bosses in the world. It can be difficult for someone like him to stay healthy and focused with so much on his plate. Wealth and success are not a guarantee that you're living a good life, after all. But he found his way to deal with all the stress and hassle of a successful career.

When the interviewer asked Jeff how he manages stress, his answer was pretty straightforward. "In my particular case, I laugh a lot," he said. But how can it work for your stress levels? New research has found that laughter can be a valuable element of stress management. 

Laughter is such a great way of fighting stress because it comes from the part of the brain connected to mood and reward - it releases endorphins, making you feel good! So not only does laughter release good hormones, but it brightens your day simultaneously.

Barak Obama turns his tasks into routines

Business leaders and those with plenty of experience know how important it is to avoid stress in their work. Stress harms their productivity, health, and well-being. One of the ways that Barak Obama deals with tension is by turning tasks into routines.

Planner and a cup of coffee on the table

Obama's strategy to avoid the clutter in his mind is through a system he developed: tasks become routines. It's a way of organizing and reactivating your mind (by setting meet-ups, taking meals, and so on) when the pattern becomes tiring. He stacks similar tasks, and that helps him reduce decision-making stress. "You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself", says former US president, and he definitely makes sense.

Since stress management has become a serious matter, especially for busy people, we examined how other achievers managed their stress. We found out that having a routine is the key to managing stress. Having such a routine allows you to grab the wisdom from past experiences to become better at tackling each day's challenges or obstacles.

Top strategies to fight work-related stress

Effective stress management can redefine your life and lead you toward better choices. The stress-management strategies range from focusing on exercise to simply keeping tabs on your priorities without feeling guilty. These have been shown in healthy responses to stress cases, ranging from governmental entities to athletic teams.

Take frequent breaks to declutter your mind

Burnout refers to the feeling you get after working too hard or under high pressure. You may think that everything you do at work isn't wrong for your health. But it's essential to take breaks every few hours and give your brain some time off from the things onscreen.

Person taking a coffee break from work

Taking frequent breaks at work can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being. It can improve productivity, increase creativity, and reduce work stress. Still, we should be careful when talking about 'frequent' – you have to take different breaks depending on your job position.

Build a strong support network in your environment

Stress builds over time when you have too many to-dos, projects, deadlines, and expectations. It has harmful impacts on your emotional and physical health and relationships with friends, family, work colleagues, and significant others. And finally, it takes its toll on your job performance. This habit is about dwelling on stressful thoughts at the expense of being present in the now or mindful.

The workplace is a high-stakes environment, so you need effective team communication to ensure that everything gets done on time. You also need a strong network of co-workers, family members, and friends who will be there for you when things seem harsh out there. It's not just about material success - it's about keeping your mental health on a decent level.

Take helpful supplements to wind down and keep stress at bay

Most busy people don't have enough time to rebuild their habits and learn new ways to destress. In this case, supplements are a time-saving and convenient tool to help your body relieve tension and avoid the negative consequences of stress on your health. The only thing is that you need to choose the most effective ones with direct effects on your brain and mental health.

Person with a pill-box, filled with supplements

Vitamin B12 and biotin are among those vitamins that may help you fight work-related stress more effectively. The survey showed that workers who took B12 supplements for three months managed to significantly lower their work-related strain and confusion and reduce depressive mood.

You can also take magnesium and selenium to reduce your stress levels. Scientists have found that magnesium may act as an anxiolytic, a remedy for reducing anxiety.

Herbal supplements are another effective way to keep you calm and relaxed. Try adding some of them to your nutrition and see if they work for you! For example, such herbal extracts as ashwagandha, Ginkgo Biloba, and ginseng can lower your cortisol levels and make you more relaxed.

Know your enemy - keep your stressors on paper

The ideal way to tackle stress is to keep track of what causes it. You're more likely to identify issues early and avoid lingering in the problem. So when you want to manage your work-induced stress, try to write down the things or situations that cause tension. It could be talkative team members, uncomfortable chairs, tight deadlines, or clients' high demands.

Person writing down her stresses

This therapy is beneficial for people gaining insight into their flaws, separating the trappings of their carelessness from reality, and developing a concrete plan for overcoming their challenges. Decreased worry about things that don't get done right away is good when you have a continuous output of new tasks and excessive meetings.

Add "relaxative habits" to your schedule

You may think that you simply don't have time for silly relaxing practices and still need to focus solely on work. However, Microsoft research claims that breaks are essential for your brain to stay productive and energized. You can spend these breaks on rituals that will help your brain and body relax & recharge. Relaxation practices have a cumulative effect on your overall brain performance, helping you be more productive at work.

Understanding your methods of establishing and dissolving anxious states is one of the important actions you can take for effective stress management. When impacted by work-related stress, you can employ these active stress reduction measures to find life more flourishing, livelier, and joyful:

  • Practice walking breaks
  • Make arrangements by setting strict work times to avoid overworking
  • Try meditations and yoga
  • Listen to relaxing music during your breaks
  • Speak your stresses out and look for support.

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