Coping with Work-related Stress — Top Tips
The last few years have not been easy for any of us. The pandemic has changed the way that many of us work, it put a strain on our home life and our relationships. More recently, the increasing political turmoil caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has also led to growing anxiety. Some people have reacted to all of the above by throwing themselves into their work, which is sometimes one of the few areas of their lives which they feel they have some control over. But work-related stress is on the rise.
According to research by Forbes, as many as 94% of workers are stressed, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on. So what can we do to reduce our levels of stress at work and to prevent burnout? We take a look at some top tips from Wellbee’s behavioral psychotherapist Monika Kawecka.
Understand what leads to work-related stress
One of the first things to do is to identify what is the main root of your stress. Is it too many responsibilities, leading to you having to work late into the night? Is it the pressure to meet specific targets or deadlines which seem unachievable? Is it a difficult relationship with your boss or other members of your team? Or is it something else entirely, which perhaps isn’t even directly related to work?
Burnout is not always caused solely by stressful work or too many duties. You might have personality traits such as a high need for control and a need for perfectionism, which in itself cause high levels of stress. Be honest with yourself about whether the goals that you’re striving towards have been set for yourself, or your manager. Are you sure that the weight of expectation isn’t created by you?
It’s important to address the main cause of work-related stress and to take steps to address it. If you’re overworked, speak to your manager about the need for additional resources. If you’re struggling to meet deadlines, be open about this with your manager. The worst thing to do is to bottle up your worries.
Build a network of support
A support network acts like a buffer in coping with difficulties. People struggling with work-related stress or burnout may tend to isolate themselves from their loved ones. This is never a good thing to do. Social contact is a natural antidote to stress, and talking to people who are kind to us is one of the best ways to reduce emotional tension.
The person you are talking to does not have to give advice and look for quick solutions to the situation in which you find yourself, but should support you and listen carefully without expressing judgment. Make sure you stay in touch with friendly people on a daily basis, as they will have a positive impact on your stress levels and general mental health.
Set your boundaries
How much time during the day are you able to devote to work? If you work remotely, schedule time to perform professional duties and determine what hours you are available for clients or employees. Draw a line between work and free time. Crucially - remember to schedule breaks away from your desk.
Determine and set the time you will be offline each day. Put your laptop down at this time, do not check emails and social media, and mute notifications on the phone. During this time, choose to relax! You can do activities that you enjoy, such as dinner with your loved ones, a warm bath or reading your favorite book.
Be driven by your values
Think about what is important and rewarding for you in your work. What are your values and what areas do you want to develop? Do you feel better doing creative work that gives you complete freedom, or having a job with clearly defined procedures? Do you prefer working autonomously or in a group? Think about the tasks you can engage in to make your work meaningful.
Asking yourself these questions is important on a daily basis, but you can also find it extremely helpful when experiencing emotional exhaustion to reassess which direction your career is taking.
Learn to say ‘no’
Be clear about your competencies and responsibilities, and think about which tasks are really important to your role. If you receive an order or another project for which you have no space, try to assertively refuse its implementation or delegate some tasks to other employees. It also works both ways.
So learn to ask for help, because it is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of responsibility. Taking on too many responsibilities creates frustration, pressure and burnout. Saying "no" allows you to say "yes" to commitments you really want to make.
A person who sets an extremely high bar, strives for excellence and takes care of every detail, can give the impression of an ideal employee. The trouble is that they can convince themselves that they could always be that little bit better, and even the smallest mistake is perceived by them as a catastrophe. The bar turns out to be insurmountable.
The qualities of a perfectionist have negative consequences, such as constantly feeling pressured, dissatisfied with yourself, feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and exhausted. In this case, the key to reducing stress is to set realistic goals.
Plan your time-off and stick to it
You’ll be surprised to hear how many people forget to schedule longer-term breaks. Plan your free time from work obligations in your calendar, including longer holidays, and do it in the way you plan meetings and projects to be implemented. Regular rest is the basis for effective and complete job satisfaction.
You should also make sure that you have a decent amount of sleep every day, engage in physical activity and eat healthily. Remember that good physical health has a positive effect on mental health. If you experience burnout symptoms, try to take a complete break from your work responsibilities. Use your free time to regenerate and recharge your batteries.
Remember that work-life balance isn’t just a catchphrase
It’s a phrase that’s been commonly used over the past decade, and even more so during the pandemic when the boundaries between work and homelife became more blurred. We need to remember that work-life balance is something that we all control. We just need to remember to manage it effectively.
10Clouds is working with Wellbee
At 10Clouds, we're working with Wellbee to provide mental health support for all our staff. We want to make sure that we all have access to a trusted person with whom we can discuss our thoughts, feelings and worries.
Wellbee provides us with:
- A range of trained and certified therapists with many different specializations
- In-person or online therapy sessions
- The ability to hold therapy sessions in a range of different languages.