Work-related stress is a reality experienced by all business professionals. In prehistoric times our sympathetic nervous system would generate a ‘fight or flight’ response towards various threats from the natural world. Today it has evolved to become activated under ‘work-related’ stress.
Chronic work-related stress can become debilitating as it breaks down the immune system. In the case of business professionals with heart problems or hypertension work-related stress can even cause death.
Below are 7 ways to reduce work-related stress, that is suitable for both employees and employers.
The inability to cope with work-related stress often comes down to an inability to identify stressors. If we could effectively know the nature of stressful stimuli, we could come up with an appropriate way of either eliminating or reducing them. Below are some tips any business professional can use to identify their own personal stressors:
- Keep a journal and record all stressful situations.
- Record your thoughts, feelings, people, and all aspects of the environment you find stressful.
- Evaluate how and why you reacted to a stressor.
- Brainstorm ways of consciously coping with the stressor.
Action vs Reaction
When we perceive a situation to be out of our control, ‘fight or flight’ hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol flood into the blood system almost forcing us to ‘react’ rather than take conscious action. Consciously acting as opposed to reacting comes down to:
- Identifying aspects of a stressful situation that you can or cannot control.
- Understanding that you’re in control of your actions and responses, but not the external forces such as the mood your employer is in, or the fault of an employee.
- When stress overrides your sense of control, try ‘cooling down’ by breathing through your mouth as if you’re sipping through a straw, then breathe out normally through your nose.
- Slow and deep breathing is also an alternative to this.
- Another unique trick comes from an acupuncture technique: Position your thumb on the side of your middle finger and apply pressure. This instantly regulates your blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of an uncontrollable reaction.
Dealing with distractions
The business world is all about multi-tasking, competing deadlines, and fast-changing priorities. Juggling work-related tasks, life, and being bombarded with digital media can induce unnecessary stress in the work place. The result is often not being able to act because you’re incredibly overwhelmed. We recommend taking the following simple steps:
- Accept the distraction.
- Diagnosis it.
- Either dismiss or attend to it.
- Eliminate the least important things from your to-do list.
- Prioritise projects that will be the most impactful and that are aligned with your goals for the day.
Maximum focus and energy
Most of the time we don’t have the energy or focus to deal with various daily stresses. Business professionals often fail to ‘switch-off’ or get the appropriate amount of sleep required for replenishing their systems. Many struggle to reestablish a pre-stress level of functioning. Planning your days for maximum focus and energy will significantly decrease the amount of stress you experience. The following steps can be taken to achieve this:
- Schedule breaks throughout your day and commit to them.
- Go for a walk away from your desk.
- Perform breathing exercises.
- Concentrate on your work for 90 minutes, then take a break to recover.
- Avoid unnecessary distractions at your desk.
- Eat a low sugar/carb, high protein diet.
- Limit caffeine towards the end of your day to build healthy sleeping habits.
- Avoid stimulating activities such as watching TV or using the internet before bed.
- Commit to a minimum amount of physical activity every day.
- Make time for your hobbies and favourite activities.
- Create clear boundaries between work and home life: effectively disconnect on the weekends.
Whether you are an employee or employer, a large proportion of stress is self-imposed. Perceiving stress in the office is a subjective interpretation of certain facts viewed through a lens of self-doubt caused by this stress, and ones perceived inability to cope with it. A shift in perspective can be achieved in the following ways:
- Take a step back, meditate and step into an objective view of the situation.
- Encourage yourself with positive thoughts, which will in turn inspire others when they see the effects of these thoughts.
- Build your own self-confidence by focusing on the work itself, rather than focusing on what others think of your work.
Open communication is important in any organisation. It enhances the employee-employer relationship, and without it there is a constant disconnect between team members. This disconnect affects morale, and the outcome of work produced. Effective communication is a collectively beneficial solution to some of the smallest problems in the workplace:
- Employers who share their concerns, ideas, and thoughts with their employees, can look forward to a stronger working relationship and a healthier company culture.
- Confront problem co-workers or employees in the most respectful way possible.
- Communicate any problem behaviours known in a respectful tone.
- Describe the impact of problem behaviours on the team as well as the individual, and respectfully promote a positive alternative.
Sometimes stress comes down to an inability to cope with workload, especially in small to medium or startup businesses. We highly recommend outsourcing any work that you, your organisation, or employees cannot cope with. It is cost effective and will significantly reduce work-related stress.
AVirtual are specialists in the art of outsourcery and can significantly reduce work-related stress by handling the many personal tasks that you just don’t have the time, energy or focus to deal with during your work day and on the weekend.
Our highly-trained PA’s can complete the following for you:
- Travel research and scheduling arrangements such as flights, hotels, and restaurant bookings
- Managing your calendar, appointments, reminders etc.
- Manage your loyalty cards.
- Handle credit card and bank statements.
- Find a personal trainer and book 3 times per week.