I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).
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Between bosses, customers, deadlines, etc etc… work can be a stressful place to be. But the reality is we spend a huge part of our time at work. So, figuring out how to keep our cool and how to manage stress at work can minimize the effects of stress on our wellbeing. In this post, I want to hand over my biggest tips for reducing stress and managing anxiety at work.
We all know that feeling when a co-worker asks if you can do a “quick favor” for them. Your own to-do list flashes through your mind, and your stomach churns. Or how about when you feel a vibe from your boss that you should pick up some extra work? Or the unfortunate situations where no one is clear about what your responsibilities actually are (or aren’t).
What a mess.
First, you need a crystal clear understanding of what is and isn’t in your job description. If you have a copy of your job description, pull that baby out as often as you need. Pin it to your cubicle so that you can refer to it whenever needed.
If the problem is your superiors aren’t clear on what falls within your responsibilities, initiate a clarifying conversation for the benefit of everyone.
If it’s responding to a co-worker that’s getting you tripped up, refresh yourself on personal boundaries and clear communication. It is possible to be kind, but clear and firm.
Getting clear on your responsibilities and how to hold your boundaries can diffuse work anxiety and help you manage stress at work.
related: find healthy boundaries hard or confusing? take this *free* mini email course to learn what makes boundaries difficult for you
Workplace gossip is tempting, especially in an unhealthy or problematic work environment. But, the truth is there’s a fine line between co-misseration and straight up gossip. Empathizing and supporting each other is important.
But support doesn’t have to turn into tearing down the people around you, or spreading (mis)information. “I’m struggling because so and so is sending mixed messages about xyz” is different than “Diane is a rude bitch. I heard she’s getting a divorce.” Don’t do that.
To be honest, staying clear of the gossip is also a form of self-preservation and avoiding making an enemy. This kind of interpersonal conflict and tension is an unnecessary stressor. Keep your work life less complicated by avoiding the drama.
A few rules of thumb: if you didn’t hear it or see it, don’t talk about it as gospel. Keep it focused on how you’re feeling, but not personal attacks.
Avoid crossing that line (you’ll know when you do). When someone else crosses the line, try to change the topic of conversation––not to shame the person, but to switch things up. People will catch on. They’ll trust you more because they know you’d do the same if they were the topic of conversation.
Establishing positive relationships with co-workers helps us manage the normal workplace stress. Know who you can turn to with questions, ask for perspective, and seek support in managing stress at work.
The best way to find a work-friend? Be a work friend. Offer support and empathy as opportunities arise.
I suspect that many of us aren’t as intentional with our breaks as we could be. Look into your employer’s break policy and at your state’s labor laws to understand what breaks you are entitled to.
Then, actually take breaks. What will be refreshing and calming for you to do during your break? Try stepping outside, going for a quick 5-minute walk, or doing a few stretches. Scrolling through social media probably isn’t the most relaxing option, so try to be creative about other options.
Breathing is one of the most simple soothing activities we can do. Deep breathing techniques help us settle into a bodies, calm our nervous system, and be more mindful during our day.
Essential oils can also be a helpful aromatic, stress-reducing tool. (You’ll have to do your own research on therapeutic uses of essential oils). Engaging in our various senses helps us get more grounded and promote relaxation. Scent is especially powerful.
Find an essential oil scent that you love and use it as a relaxation tool for work. I like to buy small glass spray bottle to fill with a diluted oil. Spritz whenever the room needs a refresh or I need a pick-me-up. (Of course, be sure to be mindful of your colleagues and whether the scents are bothersome to them).
Music is another wildly powerful tool for lifting your mood and reducing stress. Consider playing music quietly or headphones instead. Utilizing different playlists for different moods is a great enjoyable work ritual to add to your day. Don’t underestimate it!
What else would you add? Do you currently use any of these tools? Learning how to manage and reduce stress at work is a lifelong process, but it’s absolutely worth it. Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes!
by Kylie |
March 7, 2019
I'm Kylie. I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).