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Eight tips on how to manage stress in the workplace

12 May, 2022Nadim Choudhury

Many employees will be anxious about returning the office. You – or someone you know – might feel overwhelmed with the change in pace and work volume, stressed by the commute or anxious about workplace politics. Nadim Choudhury, our Head of Careers and Employability, shares his tips on how to manage work-related anxiety.

Building with fire escapes and message asking how you are1. Reflect on your role in this new landscape

A lot has changed. You’ve probably taken on greater responsibility and are working longer hours to meet your objectives. Ask yourself:

  • does this role still fulfil me?
  • what do I enjoy about it?
  • what could I change?

If you’re still satisfied with your role, you’re more likely to develop coping mechanisms. If you’re not, then dealing with stress will feel more difficult.

2. Be clear about what’s expected of you

Taking on too much is one of the biggest causes of workplace stress. So, speak to your line manager about the key requirements of your role and ask them to share their expectations.

If you think you’ll struggle to hit targets, key performance indicators (KPIs) or objectives, say so from the outset. A good manager will support you by offering development opportunities or resources to help you achieve your work priorities.

Communicate clearly. The earlier you do this, the easier work life will be!

3. Don’t get involved in workplace conflict

We’re living at a time when workplace conflict is very rarely tolerated. People just don’t have the emotional resilience and tolerance to deal with toxic work cultures and employers are aware of this.

As we go back into the office, old work groups and patterns of behaviour will likely remerge. Don’t be drawn into gossip or office politics and call out negative behaviour when your see it.

By consciously and actively not participating in such behaviour, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and stress in the long run.

4. Organise yourself, don’t multitask

We all have different ways of organising our working day. Some people are incredibly structured, others less so. If you’re organised, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.

So prioritise organising your time and, where you can, remain consistent.

5. Take your lunch break

Even if you can’t take your full hour, get out of the office and go for a walk. This will really help break up your day.

Make sure you have a balanced diet too. Eating junk food and drinking copious amounts of coffee or energy drinks will aggravate your stress symptoms.

6. Be realistic, not a perfectionist

A common reaction to trauma is to do things that give us a sense of control. So, during the lockdown, many people buried themselves in work and are now more likely to take on more and strive for perfection.

Be aware of this and ask yourself if you’re doing it. Work hard to fulfil your objectives, but don’t set yourself up to fail.

7. Get a good night’s sleep and early start

Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep eight hours or more.

To improve your sleep, make sure you actively wind down before bed. Read a book, listen to music. And try not to spend time on your phone or laptop, as the blue light emitted from your devices stops your brain from switching off.

Equally, make time for yourself in your morning routine. Walk the dog before you go to work, or spend time reading or with your loved ones. This will help set you up for the rest of your day.

8. Get help if you need it

If you’re struggling, make use of your work’s wellbeing resources and speak to your line manager. There are also services with free resources and helplines, such as Mind and the Samaritans.

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