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How can I reduce stress at work?

Feeling overwhelmed at work can be tough, but there are some things you can try to relieve the stress


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in employment


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It’s normal to sometimes feel stressed at work. Stress is a normal part of our everyday lives, and sometimes a small amount of stress can be a good thing, because it motivates us to get things done. However, if you’re feeling stressed at work all the time, it could be a sign that something is wrong. 

Signs of work-related stress

When we are stressed, we can have both an emotional and physical response. Some of the signs that you’re suffering from stress at work can include:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Suffering from headaches
  • Feeling tense in work
  • Feeling anxious about going into work
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Trying to find ways to avoid going into work
  • Losing interest in your job
  • Having trouble controlling your emotions at work

Why am I so stressed at work?

There are a number of reasons why work might be stressing you out, and it’s important to figure out what it is that is causing you so much stress so that you can deal with it. If you don’t know the source of your stress, you will have a harder time dealing with it.

Here are some common reasons why a person might feel stressed at work:

  • A heavy workload
  • Working long hours
  • Tight deadlines with not enough time to complete them
  • Feeling like you don’t get enough support
  • Pressure from managers or colleagues to get things right
  • Leaving things to the last minute
  • A negative atmosphere
  • Not knowing how to do your job
  • Feeling like you don’t get on with your colleagues
  • Feeling like your colleagues are disorganised 
  • Changes to your job or workplace

These are only some of the reasons why you could be feeling overwhelmed at work.

How can I reduce stress at work?

Once you know what it is that is causing you so much stress, you can work at finding ways to deal with it. Here are some things you can try for handling work-related stress.

Know what you can change, and what you can’t

Some things are in our control, and there are things we can do to change them. For example, if you are always running behind on tasks because you spend too much time procrastinating, there are things you can do to change that.

However, there are some things that are out of our control. You might be able to work with other people to something, but there are things that we cannot change. Accepting that something is out of your control can help you to move on and feel better at work.

Work on organisation and time management

If you are struggling to meet deadlines and find yourself staying behind to work longer than you’re supposed to, then it might be a good idea to try and work on your time management and organisation skills. 

This can include: 

  • Creating a list of tasks and making sure to address the priorities first
  • Planning a few weeks ahead and marking clearly on your calendar when something is due and when you should start working on it
  • Deciding how long you want to spend on each task and trying to stick to this timeframe
  • Spreading work out over the week instead of trying to do everything at once
  • Working on your procrastination

If you feel like there is a problem with poor time management and organisation throughout your workplace, talk to someone who might be able to change this.

Talk to your manager

If you are feeling overwhelmed at work, talk to your manager. Explain to them why you are feeling so stressed, and suggest changes that could be made that would make your life at work easier. 

Letting your manager know what’s going on means they can help you deal with the situation, especially if the source of your stress is something outside of your control. 

Take breaks and avoid working longer than you have to

When you feel like you have too much to do, it can be hard to give yourself the breaks you need. The reality is, if you allow yourself to take proper breaks, including a full lunch hour, you will have much more energy to do your work, and you will most likely be a lot more focused. 

Leaving work on time is also important. You need time to rest and recharge at the end of a long day, so try to leave as soon as your day or shift ends. 

Try to connect with colleagues

It can be really tough when you feel like you don’t get on with the people you work with. Having good relationships at work can be really important for your attitude to going in every day, and for your mental health. Try to connect with your colleagues and get to know them more. They don’t have to be your best friend, but it can be nice to have someone to chat to.

Find healthy ways to relieve stress

Figure out things you can do to relieve some of the stress you feel at work. This could include taking a walk during your breaks, doing some mindfulness during the day, or planning something to look forward to at the end of the day. 

Read 10 tips for dealing with stress here.

Talk to someone

Feeling overwhelmed at work is hard, but you don’t need to carry these feelings on your own. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a colleague. If you are having a really tough time, consider going for counselling. A counsellor can support you in finding ways to handle your work-related stress.

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Published February 13th, 2013
Last updated September 3rd, 2018
Tags work stress anxiety
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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