Stressed About Work: 16 Tips To Manage Work-Related Stress

Updated February 3, 2023

If you’re feeling stressed about work, knowing how to reduce your stress levels can help you find greater job satisfaction and help you avoid burning out.

In this article, we will explain the importance of managing stress in the workplace and list 16 tips to help you reduce your stress before, during and after work.

Why is it important to manage stress in the workplace?

Effectively managing stress levels comes with several advantages for both your personal and professional life. If you're experiencing stress about work, understanding the benefits of reducing your stress levels can encourage you to make a positive change in your own life away from work.

Here are some of the benefits of managing stress in the workplace:

  • Improved mental health: If you let stress take over, it can lower your confidence and well-being. Effectively managing your stress can give you the mental clarity and peace you and your body need.

  • Better job performance: Since stress can impact your focus, working to minimize it can help you concentrate for longer periods of time. In addition, staying focused on your tasks often means a greater output and increased quality of work.

  • Greater job satisfaction: When you effectively manage stress, you're more apt to enjoy coming to work each day. This improves your overall job satisfaction while putting you in a good mood that can have a positive impact on others.

Related: How To Prevent Burnout at Work

Tips to reduce work-related stress

Use these tips to help you minimize stress before, during and after work in order to maintain steady focus throughout your workday:

1. Determine what you can control

Many people experience stress when they don't feel in control of certain situations. To alleviate your stress, identify what aspects of a particular situation you can control and which you can't. For example, while you control your actions, you can't control the actions of others. Once you know what you can and can't control, aim to let go of what you can't change.

2. Schedule breaks

While you may want to power through the day and get all of your work done at once, stepping away from your desk or workspace can give you the mental clarity you need and help improve your overall productivity.

Schedule breaks throughout your workday, whether you decide to get a snack, take a walk or stretch. Doing this can help you alleviate buildup stress and help you feel refreshed for the rest of your shift.

Related: Pros and Cons of Flex Days (With Definition and Examples)

3. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating poorly can have a negative effect on your body and your mind. As recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it’s important to make healthy choices for your meals and snacks.

Choose from the main food groups like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reduce your consumption of foods loaded with added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. To ensure you have healthy options while at work, think ahead and prepare meals in advance to accommodate your schedule.

4. Take a deep breath

When you feel frustrated, tense or overwhelmed, it can greatly influence your reaction to a particular situation. Instead of overreacting or reacting too suddenly, set aside your work and take a few deep breaths.

Even just a few minutes of deep breathing exercises can help you relieve stress and feel more balanced and calm. Once you've regained your cool, you can return to work with a fresh mind and greater focus.

Related: The Ladder of Inference: Understanding the 7 Rungs

5. Take an objective approach

When faced with a stressful situation at work, take a step back before reacting, as your perspective of these events can add to your stress level. Therefore, it's important to look at each situation objectively first without placing blame or having self-doubt.

When you remove yourself from a situation, it can help you find a solution and help you respond in a professional manner. Doing this helps eliminate any stress you may have incurred otherwise.

Related: How To See the Bigger Picture and Why It's Important (Plus Examples)

6. Set boundaries for your interruptions

Many workdays come with impending deadlines, endless phone calls and several emails. While you can't control all your interruptions, having a plan for your reaction can help you avoid unnecessary stress. Eliminate your interruptions by accepting an interruption or shutting it out.

You can also assess the importance of the interruption to better determine whether or not you should completely avoid it for now. For example, if you're expecting an important phone call one day, it may be best to answer all of your phone calls instead of completing what you're currently working on.

You can also eliminate distractions by setting up office hours for people to reach you during a certain time of day or by only checking your email during certain hours of the day.

Related: 10 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance Now (That Actually Work)

7. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep can help your body recover from the day's stress. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. A good sleep schedule can prevent you from becoming tired during the workday and give you the mental clarity you need to perform your job well. Aim to avoid drinking caffeine or using electronic devices right before bed as these can make it harder for you to fall asleep.

8. Build your self-confidence

When you're constantly seeking approval from others and wondering how people perceive you, it can harm your self-confidence and cause you to self-impose stress. Instead of focusing on how others perceive you, focus on your job and the various tasks you have to do. Not only can this increase your productivity at work, but you're also more apt to impress them.

9. Plan your day

Use a planner to schedule your day and your responsibilities. You can also use a calendar to keep track of your upcoming meetings and deadlines. Doing this helps you better manage your time, allows you to focus on the most important tasks first and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and subsequently stressed.

Related: How Do I Create and Stick To a Daily Schedule?

10. Be your own cheerleader

To avoid internal negativity and the stress that comes with it, focus on encouraging and positive thoughts that can provide you with the motivation you need to make it through your workday—no matter what challenges await. Motivating yourself can help increase your productivity and may influence others to do the same.

11. Track your stressors

Determine which workplace situations cause you stress the most often. It's also important to consider how you react to these situations. Write down your thoughts and feelings when these stressful situations occur, as well as information on the people, circumstances, setting and your overall response.

For example, consider whether you ate a snack or took a walk after these stressful situations. When you take notes, it can help you identify patterns, make you aware of past reactions and guide you toward a more appropriate response to reduce your stress with these situations in the future.

Related: Tips on How to Get Rid of Nerves and Feel More Confident

12. Exercise regularly

Not only does having an exercise routine improve your mood and physical health, but it also helps to effectively manage your stress. Take the time to exercise—before work, during your lunch break or after you've completed your shift. You may even exercise more than once a day if it works for you. However often you do so, exercising consistently can help you establish a routine and give you a way to alleviate your stress more often.

13. Practice self-care

No matter how much you love your job and what you do, it's important to spend time engaging in activities unrelated to work. Take time to disconnect, whether it's going for a walk, watching a movie with friends or decorating your home.

Use your weekends and vacation days to the fullest by finding time to relax and unwind. Doing this helps you feel more refreshed and energized when you return to work. It also ensures you're performing to the best of your ability and that you're able to handle any challenges the day may present.

Related: How To Make Time for Self-Care While Working From Home

14. Use relaxation techniques

Use various relaxation techniques to help you unwind after a long day. You can practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises to eliminate any stress you've built up.

You can also focus on being present after work, whether you're enjoying a meal with friends or walking around your neighborhood. When you're able to focus on a single activity without interruptions or distractions, you can effectively apply this to other areas of your life.

15. Talk to your supervisor

If you've identified your stressors, consider speaking with your employer about your plan to manage them in order to perform your job to the best of your ability. They can often recommend employer-sponsored resources to help.

While you can focus on improving your skills, such as time management, you can also use employer resources like online information or counseling through an employee assistance program. Make sure you're aware of these resources and know what's expected of you when it comes to your job. While the former can help you better manage your stress levels, the latter can ensure you're not overworking yourself.

Related:What To Do When You're Feeling Overworked

16. Stay organized

Keeping your workspace organized can greatly eliminate any work-related stress. When you avoid clutter, it helps you find things quicker and increases your productivity. Take the time to organize your workspace regularly and use folders, shelves, pen holders and other office tools to your advantage.

Image description

A person sits at their desk in a home office decorated by potted plants and lit by natural light.

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