Eight ways to deal with stress in the workplace

Eight ways to deal with stress in the workplace

Over three quarters of people say they regularly feel stressed in the workplace

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is based on the theme of stress. Accountancy can be a rewarding and interesting career with excellent progression opportunities, but it also has the potential to be stressful with demanding clients and the pressure of having to work long hours.

Research from the charity CABA shows one in three employees consider quitting their job frequently. Feeling stressed can be a large contributor to this, and data collected from the Accountancy Age mental health in the workplace survey reveals that over three quarters of people, 77%, regularly feel stressed at work.

If you’re one of the majority who suffer with stress at work, what can you do to help you feel better?

1. Reach out for help

Sometimes stress can be combatted by simply talking about it. Whether you’re having a stressful moment, or you feel generally tense at work, talking about why you feel stressed can help you relieve some of these feelings.

If there’s someone you feel comfortable talking to at work, go for lunch or coffee and share how you’re feeling; you might even discover they have the same experiences. Alternatively, open up to a friend or relative about feeling stressed at work. If your stress is partly caused by a lack of support network in the office, see whether you could strike up more conversations to make friends at work or join an initiative, such as volunteering, which will help you to meet new people.

2. Communicate with your manager

There is a collective feeling in many companies that admitting you have too much work on, or saying ‘no’ to something, is a weakness. But being transparent with your manager on this is so important, and far better than struggling through an unmanageable workload by yourself.

Many managers will ask you specifically about your workload, so be honest with them if you have too much on. If they don’t ask, bring it up in your next one-to-one meeting. Show your manager what you are expected to do on a weekly basis and match this up to the number of hours you have in a working day. Ask them to help you solve this issue, whether that be delegating tasks, taking tasks from you, or helping you manage your time better.

3. Stay healthy

Health is one of the first things we neglect when we’re busy or stressed but changing this attitude will actually reduce your stress and make you more productive in the office.

Being healthy includes being sensible with your diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and looking after your mental health. Eat a balanced diet that makes you feel good about yourself. Try to do some exercise every day and if your busy schedule makes exercise seem impossible get inventive with fitting it in: go to the gym at lunchtime, do home workouts, or cycle to work, for example. Check in regularly with your mental health and practice self-care at every opportunity.

4. Learn time management and prioritising

Feeling out of control, like you have so many things to do and you will probably forget half of them, also causes stress. This can be fixed with a simple time management strategy, and people have different preferences when it comes to these.

You could write a to-do list at the start of each day, writing the most important ones at the top so they definitely get done and adding to the list if new tasks come up. Other people prefer to use digital tools, such as their Outlook, to prioritise tasks.

The other important aspect of time management is productivity. How much time do you actually spend working compared with talking to colleagues, attending meetings, or getting distracted by something else? Are you completing tasks in the most efficient way possible? You could improve your productivity through simple changes, like taking yourself to a café or turning your email off when you need to focus on a task.

5. Take a lunch break

Another working practice which is sometimes regarded as ‘not the done thing’ is taking a lunch break but taking time away from your desk can determine whether you have a productive afternoon or not. Ultimately, staying at your desk for lunch doesn’t necessarily mean you will get more work done.

Try to get away from the screen if you sit at a computer for your job. Go for a walk, sit in a café for lunch, or chat to colleagues. You could even use your lunch break productively by going to the gym or getting some shopping done.

6. Remove yourself if stress gets too much

Situations at work can get so stressful that you just need to remove yourself for a moment. Deal with it in the best way for you, but if you’re sitting at your desk, head in hands and unable to think straight because of something that has happened, remove yourself from the situation to calm down.

If coming in to work makes you stressed in general, talk to your boss about flexible working options. If you’re company doesn’t already offer it, they will likely be thinking about it. With the technology around today, so many jobs can be done remotely. Explain how the working environment has a negative impact on your ability to do your job, and discuss whether you might be able to work remotely for some or all of your job.

7. Find meaning in your work

Sometimes the source of workplace stress is actually an innate lack of satisfaction in our jobs. Disliking many of the tasks you do on a daily basis can cause an inherent dread and therefore stress associated with doing them. Sometimes all you need to do is remember the wider picture of what impact you have in your job to feel more positive about working.

If you are inherently unhappy in your job, it might be time to think about how you could change jobs, companies, or even careers. However, you may be happy with your wider job, but feel stressed with certain tasks you have to do. Change your outlook by considering the wider picture, or thinking up ways to make these mundane tasks more interesting.

8. Leave work at work

Technology means work emails can follow you around, wherever you go, whatever time of the day, but to be replying to work emails when you’re supposed to be settling down to sleep isn’t healthy.

Everyone has busy periods at work, and may you have to stay late sometimes, but if your work-life balance is constantly tipped towards work, you need to ask why. Switching off from work at the end of each day ensures you can offer your full potential on the next working day. Enriching your life with other interesting pastimes outside of work can make you feel happier, and therefore less stressed at work.

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