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10 Tips for Managing Stress At Work

Eileen Bailey May 16th, 2014 (updated May 29th, 2015)
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Everyone feels stress at work at some time. It often occurs when you are feeling overwhelmed or when you don’t have control over the situation but can also happen for other reasons. Stress at work can interfere with your ability to do your job, create friction between you and your coworkers or carry over to your time outside of work, causing problems in other relationships. You can’t always avoid stress but there are some ways you can help manage or reduce the stress you feel. 

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Identify Your Triggers
Identify Your Triggers

You might feel stressed before handing in a report or when you need to talk in front of coworkers.In order to effectively manage your stress, you need to find out what triggers these feelings. Keep a stress notebook at your desk for the next week. Write down what is going on each time you feel stress. Include the time, who was around, what happened just before and the current situation.

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Fix what you can
Fix what you can

You can’t fix every situation, but you might notice that you feel much more stressed shortly before lunch. Try taking a walk or having a healthy snack mid-morning to see if it reduces your stress. Taking positive steps toward fixing problems makes you feel more in control. 

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Plan stress relief times during the day
Plan stress relief times during the day

Spending time outside and meditating for 10 minutes can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. If you don’t have time, take 3 minutes to do deep breathing exercises. While you might not think you have time to take a 10 minute break because of all the work you need to do, keep in mind that reducing your stress levels will make you more productive. Plan several stress breaks throughout the day.

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Rewrite your reactions
Rewrite your reactions

Your reactions to situations are based on your subjective perspective on a situation and don’t take other people into account. If you feel yourself becoming angry, take a few minutes to try to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. You always have a choice on how to react to a situation, gather information on why a situation occurred and then act (rather than reacting) accordingly.

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Use deep breathing
Use deep breathing

Anytime you feel your stress level rising, take several deep breaths, feeling your breath all the way down in your abdomen. You can use this technique at your desk, in meetings, while talking to your boss or the irritable coworker. Take a deep breath in through your nose, feel your abdomen fill and then let it out slowly through your mouth. Even three deep breaths can reduce your anxiety level.

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Prioritize and set goals
Prioritize and set goals

Take a few moments in the morning, or the evening before you leave work, to write a list of what needs to be accomplished and prioritize the tasks. As you go through your day, check off the items you have completed and keep working through the list. At the end of the day, rewrite your list for the following day. 

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Focus on the work rather than opinions
Focus on the work rather than opinions

You might worry about doing a good job because you don’t want others to think you are failure or lazy. Instead of spending your time worrying about what others think of you, focus on the work that needs to be done. Chances are if you focus on the work itself, you will do a better job. 

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Rewrite your self talk
Rewrite your self talk

Listen to how you talk to yourself. Do you tell yourself you can’t do it? Rewrite your thoughts to more positive and balanced ways of looking at situations. For example, instead of saying, “I will never get this done,” remind yourself that you've accomplished a lot before and can do this. While positive self-talk isn’t going to solve every problem, it can help keep you focused and on track. 

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Make changes outside of work
Make changes outside of work

Getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising do help. If you open your eyes in the morning worried about work, take ten minutes to meditate and put thoughts of work aside. Take time to enjoy your morning routine. Do something enjoyable in the evening. When you lead a healthy and balanced life outside of work, you are better able to handle stressful situations.