7 Tips for Beating Stress in the Office

7 Tips for Beating Stress in the Office

Stress at work can be a frightening and debilitating experience. It is also self-perpetuating, so the more stressed you get, the less able you are to take action to reduce the causes. Therefore, it’s important to get ahead of the game and nip stress in the bud before it gets out of control.

With over 16 years of working in a dynamic and stressful work environment I’ve learned a few things that may make your daily work routine less stressful. ¬†Follow these seven tips to overcome stress before it overcomes you.

#1 Make A Daily List

It sometimes seems counter-intuitive when you're already short on time, but lists are essential in planning your day. Not knowing what you are aiming to achieve is stressful in itself, so capture the thoughts flying around in your mind and create a definitive list of what needs to be done.

Not only will you feel instantly more relaxed, not having to worry about forgetting something, but you'll also feel the therapeutic benefit of crossing through items as you complete them. Don't go to an atomic level of detail on your list, but make sure you include all the important stuff, the things that have deadlines or serious consequences if you forget them.

Finally, make sure you write your list at the end of the day. Don't be tempted to leave it until tomorrow; you won't thank yourself in the morning.

#2 Manage Your Inbox

Your email inbox can often be one of the biggest causes of anxiety, so create a good folder structure that is logical and not too hefty, through which you can file and retrieve emails quickly if you need to. Don't leave the difficult emails in your inbox while you mull them over; they will only build up and add pressure to your day. Resolve them quickly by picking up the phone or asking for more clarity if needed, then clear them out.

This is difficult to do in the military but...Don't waste time reading emails you've only been CC'ed on, and even better, ask your colleagues not to copy you in unless you need to take action or they require a response from you.

#3 Manage Expectations

Let me say that again...Manage Expectations.  Be realistic with deadlines and work requests. If you're looking at your to-do list for the day thinking it's completely unrealistic, then it probably is.

If you're looking at your to-do list for the day thinking it's completely unrealistic, then it probably is.

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Identify the activities that you're most likely to be able to negotiate on and have conversations early in the day. Don't wait until 3 p.m. to panic and then make calls an hour ahead of deadlines to ask for extensions; not only does it show poor planning, but it means the looming deadline, and the worry that goes with it, is still weighing firmly on your shoulders all day and far less likely to get shifted.

And don't forget to say "no" once in a while. Others may be blissfully unaware of your plight and have no idea that their "really important" request might just be the last straw. Don't be afraid to say when enough is enough.

#4 Delegation

Make sure you use the human resources at your disposal. Delegation is an effective way of managing your workload. This doesn't mean passing the buck inappropriately or giving out work you just can't be bothered to complete. Be careful that you don't overload others and just move the anxiety to someone else, but let others help you if they have the necessary skills and some time to spare.

Delegation is an effective way of managing your workload.

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If you're a control freak, you'll find delegation difficult, but you'll find the stress of trying to juggle an unmanageable workload even more so. Delegation can also turn a negative into a positive, as the display of trust will be taken as a compliment.

#5 Talk to Your Boss

Don't suffer in silence. It's not always true to say that a problem shared is a problem halved, but it's surprising how much of the associated anxiety can be relieved by simply telling your boss that you're struggling. It doesn't pay to be proud when you're feeling the pressure.

A good boss will always listen and try to find ways to support you through advice or coaching. Discussion might reveal a contact or course of action you hadn't thought of. If you have a formal mentorship program at your workplace, consider signing up for that as another source of advice and support; you're never too senior to ask for help.

A good boss will always listen and try to find ways to support you through advice or coaching.

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#6 Rest and Recuperate

When you're up against it, it's easy to neglect your own physical needs; missing lunch breaks, working regular extended hours and/or not eating and drinking adequately will be counterproductive.

Skipping breaks over a sustained period of time will slowly catch up with you and leave your body physically drained, resulting in an equally fatigued mind that's far less able to cope with the strain. Stress can also manifest itself as a loss of appetite, which can fool you into thinking that you don't need to eat, but your mind and body won't fully recover from the daily trials of life if you don't rest and recuperate.

Make yourself take a lunch break, get a good night's sleep and eat healthily. Don't drink too much coffee (that's a tough one) and make sure you get regular exercise, even if just a brisk walk for 20 minutes a day (use your lunch break). A healthy, rested, well-fueled body and mind will best prepare you for the daily challenges work throws at you.

#7 Protect Your Personal Time

Whatever you do, never let work become your life. This can be difficult if you spend any part of your working week legitimately working from home, but draw clear lines between when you are working and when you are not, and don't violate the rules.

Whatever you do, never let work become your life.

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You must protect the time you have for yourself, your family and friends. This not only means not being at work, but not thinking about work as well. You need to give yourself the permission to take time out and not feel guilty for it.

Schedule activities with friends and family during the evenings and weekends and don't neglect the real you. You are not defined by your work and you have an identity outside it; relish who you are, the things and people you love, and keep the balance in your life.

Follow these seven rules for and you’ll find yourself better equipped to fight off the spectre of stress whenever it threatens to cast its shadow over you. With concentrated effort in these areas you can take back control of your work life and redress the balance.

Stephen Ralph
Stephen Ralph
Stephen is the Founder of Health Haxor, an active duty USAF service member, online entrepreneur and fitness buff. In between a busy schedule Stephen is an active contributor to Health Haxor and regularly posts articles related to men's health, fitness and nutrition.
Stephen Ralph

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