The Candidate Super Series: How to Beat Stress at Work

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Ryan Kaye

- December 5th, 2022
Candidate Hub

Welcome to Part Nine of the Candidate Super Series. Discover how you can stay mentally healthy in the workplace. Find out what you can do and where you can get support if you experience poor mental health, from the team behind our interview coaching services.

Work stress

Work-related stress is real – it can manifest itself in any one of us, at any time. Your mobile ringing, Slack messages bleeping, emails flooding in, your colleague passing by for a last-minute one-to-one – all of this a perfect recipe for office burnout.

Experiencing work stress isn’t unusual, particularly if a deadline is approaching or you’re tasked with a difficult project. However, if workplace stress starts lingering for a long time, it can impact your mental and physical well-being.

Even if you adore your job, facing work-related stress is inescapable. That said, there are a few actions you can take to keep job stress at bay. But first, let’s look at the signs of stress at work:

Work stress symptoms

  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Eating more/less
  • Gastric problems
  • Headaches
  • Fast heart rate
  • Perspiration
  • Little self-confidence
  • Lack of libido
  • Repeated infections

How to deal with work stress

Here are a few strategies for managing stress in the workplace:

Be mindful of how stress affects you

While this may sound obvious, it isn’t difficult to underestimate how much anxiety affects you. Be aware of how emotionally drained and cynical you are when the end of the day rolls around.

Chronic work anxiety that isn’t handled properly can damage you physically and mentally. What’s more, a recent study suggests there’s a connection between work-related fatigue, and anxiety and depression.

Note down what makes you feel stressed

write down

Writing down your stressors can enable you to understand what’s troubling you. Perhaps the travel to and from your workplace bothers you. Or maybe you find your desk uncomfortable. Situations such as these are more subtle causes of work stress.

Record your notes in a diary for one week to help monitor your anxiety and how you respond to it. Be sure to note down places, events, and people that caused you to feel mentally, physically, or emotionally stressed.

When writing all of this down, consider:

  • Whether you felt angry, hurt, or afraid.
  • How you reacted afterwards. For example, did you take a walk or visit the vending machine?
  • How you can resolve it. For instance, can you find solutions to these stressful situations?

Pause to revitalise 

Taking a couple of minutes out each day can help beat office exhaustion. Watch a funny video on YouTube or listen to a thought-provoking podcast between meetings to relax during the day.

Try not to think about your work. The best way to achieve this is by switching off your smartphone in the evenings or not looking at work-related emails when you aren’t at work.

Practice relaxation techniques

There’s a lot of power in learning techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Making the decision to slow down and become aware of your environment helps to keep you calm throughout the working week.

We recommend spending a couple of minutes every day to ‘be present’ – pause to enjoy a simple activity, whether it’s food at your desk, a stroll in the park or a brisk walk.

Take up relaxation regularly 

You can build relaxation and mindfulness into your everyday routine by doing the following:

  • Download a meditation app that you can listen to when you feel extreme stress during your commute or at work.
  • Take some time out before beginning your workday and setting your goals.
  • Sparing five minutes a day to practice breathing exercises.

Set boundaries between your home and work-life

If you’re wondering how to handle stress at work, consider balancing your work and personal life. Being obtainable, 24/7, will only burn you out more easily. So, establish clear-cut boundaries between your personal and professional life to prevent possible work pressure and anxiety.

Think about putting some time aside for socialising and setting a few rules when it comes to taking phone calls and checking your inbox.

Talk to your manager

talk to manager

Approaching your supervisor is one of the best ways to ease feelings of fatigue. Organise some time to speak to them and talk calmly about how swamped you’re feeling about some of your projects.

Tackle the discussion from a problem-solving perspective instead of making a lengthy list of criticisms.

For instance, state you wish to re-assess your responsibilities outside of your working hours, as you’re feeling snowed under at the moment. What you want is a resolution that helps alleviate your job anxiety-related feelings.

If, however, you don’t have a great relationship with your supervisor and the task sounds too intimidating, think about talking to someone in your firm’s human resources team (if possible). They’ll offer you troubleshooting tips and help you steer the discussion.

Talk to a professional

Consulting a therapist doesn’t mean you have to have a mental health problem. If you’re feeling inundated and stressed at work, this is a more-than-legitimate reason to seek the help of a qualified counsellor.

They’ll help you identify the causes of stress in the workplace and ways to navigate more efficiently. What’s more, seeking professional talking therapy can enable you to build strategies to decompress and look after yourself.