Five Positive Habits for Being Your Best Self
The workplace is a demanding environment, no matter what field you are in, and work-related stress is a serious issue that affects employees’ overall health. From meetings, phone calls, and emails to project deadlines and worries about coworkers not carrying their weight, many issues can affect your state of mind. Luckily, there are ways to combat the stress you face at work and maintain a healthier work environment. Keep these tips in mind to improve your attitude at work, and your well-being on and off the job.
Seven Common Causes of Work-Related Stress
Some individuals work well under pressure and benefit from a little stress at work, but there is a limit to what is beneficial and sometimes a fine line on where it affects health. The key is maintaining a balance between a level of stress that keeps you on your toes and not crossing the line into a place where it overwhelms you and leaves you completely drained. Some common causes of severe stress on the job include the following:
- Working in hostile or unsafe environments
- Being overloaded with projects and feeling overworked
- Financial stress related to insufficient or docked pay
- Unexpected and sudden shift changes or overtime
- Lack of control over work practices
- Fear of losing a job, layoffs, or lack of opportunity to advance
- Poor environmental conditions and interpersonal relationships with coworkers
The stress that these conditions cause arouses and triggers the nervous system to release hormones that tense your muscles, deepen respiration, increase your pulse rate, and sharpen your senses. This is not a bad thing in moderation, but constant stress that keeps your body in a state of heightened alert can take its toll on your physical and mental health.
Five Positive Habits for Coping With Work Stress
It is crucial to develop healthy coping mechanisms to ward off injury or disease related to job stress. Learning these skills is a great idea for all workers, regardless of their level of stress at work. Follow these tips for a healthier mind and body:
- Keep negative thoughts at bay. Worry and chronic stress often lead to individuals developing a negative lens through which they view nearly every situation. This leads to the likelihood of always assuming the worst or a constant state of pessimism. When you view the world, especially your work environment, in this way, you can begin to feel overwhelmed and believe that you can’t cope with your stressors. The best way to beat this is to always consider alternate possibilities in situations that create stress. Reappraise negative thoughts such as “my boss isn’t happy with my performance today” and consider possibilities like “my boss is just having a bad day” or “my boss is overwhelmed with the project she is working on.”
- Practice mindfulness. It is essential to avoid criticizing yourself and worrying about both the past and the future. Staying in the present moment and approaching it with acceptance, openness, and curiosity helps to train your brain to keep out of these traps that can lead to anxiety and depression. Informal practices like taking walks and formal practices such as meditation are great ways to build your mindfulness skills.
- Improve problem-solving skills. Learning to take specific steps to overcome challenges is a coping strategy that anyone can learn to help combat stress. Solving problems begins with identifying the issue, coming up with solutions, putting potential solutions in order, coming up with a plan of action, and testing the solution out.
- Practice relaxation. Relaxation strategies can counter the physiological effects of stress. One of the easiest relaxation methods that can help reduce the muscle tension that builds up due to stress is finding a place to lay or sit comfortably and consciously focus on tensing, then relaxing each muscle group from your toes to the top of your head. Tense the muscles for 10 seconds, then release for 20 seconds. We can also incorporate deep breathing techniques into this practice by breathing consciously while visualizing your abdomen filling with fresh oxygen and letting go with each breath.
- Commit to learning and growing. One of the best approaches for managing stress is to commit to making continual progress. Rise above the perception of what is wrong with the work, home, and the world, and develop a positive mindset that will serve you and others well.
In conclusion, one of the most important factors in dealing with stress at work is not letting issues fester, as the tension this creates will lead to further problems. Make it a daily goal to build strong relationships with coworkers and communicate effectively on the job. Outside of work, it is important to take care of your overall health and have a strong support system. These factors work together to ensure that you don’t become overwhelmed by work stress. Never stop learning to be your best self.
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