Experiencing stress at work is normal and is to be expected in any working environment. With its consistent presence in every workplace, it is important to understand how to better manage stress. Below are 3 key ways to manage stress in the workplace and prioritize your well-being.
1. Engage in Honest Emotional Reflection
How we think about a situation largely impacts how we feel towards it. Identifying our emotions is the first step in understanding this impact. Today, ask yourself: How am I feeling?
You may be experiencing exhaustion from remote work, or fear you’ve lost your work life balance, even frustration and boredom with the work you’re currently engaged in. Identifying your experiences by naming and the emotions connected to them is the first step. By giving the emotion a name, it can allow you to move towards finding an effective coping strategy to implement while at work. Next let’s consider coping strategies, and whether they are proving to be effective.
2. Evaluate Your Current Coping Strategies
How you deal with stress largely impacts your mood, productivity levels and general state of well-being. Along with naming and acknowledging your emotions, it is important to be honest about how healthy or unhealthy your current coping strategies are. Recognizing your unhealthy coping strategies is the first step in changing how a situation makes you feel.
Does going on social media during your work break increase your exhaustion? Try limiting your time on social media and replacing it with reading or journaling.
Does your mind feel disorganized due to lack of planning? Try planning your day and scheduling time to work on specific tasks.
Do you take breaks throughout the workday? Try going for a quick walk between meetings or during your lunch break to prioritize work-life balance.
Ask yourself these same questions as it relates to your coping strategies and implement healthier alternatives to unhealthy strategies.
3. Box Breathing
Are you still struggling to find and implement a healthy coping strategy? Try box breathing.
Box Breathing is a quick, healthy coping technique that lowers anxiety by reducing heart rate and promoting clearer thinking. Add this into your routine before meetings, during difficult tasks or when you need a quick break.
Begin by breathing in for 4 counts, filling your lungs from top to bottom and hold that breath for 4 counts. Now exhale for 4 counts emptying your lungs, followed by holding this exhale for another 4 counts. Repeat. This process will form a box, as visualized below.
Putting it all Together
How we think about workplace stress largely impacts how we feel about it. Allow yourself time in your workday to reflect on what emotion you’re feeling. If you’re feeling frustrated by working from home, consider how you’re coping with that frustration. If your coping strategy is negatively contributing to your emotions, consider swapping for a more productive, healthy strategy.
“Being honest with yourself is the first step in breaking the cycle of stress in the workplace.”
All information used in this blog post is from the webinar ‘COVID-19: Stress and the Mental Health Pandemic’ presented by Roger S. McIntyre MD FRCPC.
Written by: Andrena Hilder