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How to Beat Work Stress and Become Twice More Productive

How to Beat Work Stress and Become Twice More Productive

Life is unpredictable, and unpredictable moments can create stress in our lives. Although stress is normal, excessive stress can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining. At its worst, stress can paralyze you and keep you from doing your goals, pinning you down to a spot where you may feel trapped and burdened.

Easier said than done, stress can be hard to overcome, especially if you don’t know you are suffering from it. Awareness of your stress is the first step to helping you manage it. When you know you’ve reached your limit, it’s time to take a break and listen to what your body tells you. The following are tips to help you manage work stress and how you can overcome it to become more productive at work

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Determine the primary cause of stress at work 

Any problem can be easily solved by going back to its root cause. People fail at overcoming their stressors because they either choose to ignore it or live with it. There are many things that can cause stress at work. Sometimes it could be the people. It could be a micromanaging boss, an annoying coworker, or a problematic family member who’s hindering from giving your best at the job. When you frequently deal with such people, you become stressed and lose focus on your current task. Stress can be the greatest distraction in your life, if you let it rule over you. Once you determine the primary cause of stress, you can now think of ways to handle the situation.

Got a report that’s making your feel anxious and stressed? Do it. Have a coworker who’s downright annoying and hard to get along with? Talk to him. The first step to managing your stress is to deal with the person or the object that’s causing it. Once you’ve overcome the problem, you’ll have more confidence to deal with things. Ignoring or taking these stressors for granted can lead to bigger problems that will interfere with your job. By taking the time to solve the root cause of your stress you can accomplish a lot more.

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Take Time to Relax 

Everybody needs some downtime to relax. According to Richard Colgan, author of Advice to the Healer  “When we are under extreme pressure, our bodies secrete a stress hormone called cortisol that can help us short-term, but if you’re stressed out constantly, these hormones aren’t as helpful and can become depleted over time.” Taking time to relax can help you recover from constant stress.

It doesn’t matter what type of activity you’ll be doing. If you feel relaxed going to a party or curling up with a good book at home, then so be it.  Don’t overwork and make sure that you spend some of your time for things you love doing. By paying attention to your emotions and relaxing once a while you can reduce stress from work activities that drain your mind and body.  Try yoga, meditation, walking or even simple relaxing activities like listening to music or taking a hot bath. You’ll be surprised how these activities can reduce your work stress.

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Get Enough Rest

Not taking proper rest can leave your mind and body drained.  Insomnia, lack of appetite and anxiety can all lead to stress and even more serious diseases. Well-rested people have better emotional balance; they can handle stress on the job and the workplace much better than people who are always lethargic and tired.

Get Organized

Prioritizing and organizing are known ways to handle stressful situations, especially if you don’t know what work to start with. It will give you a much clearer head if you sit down and take a moment to prioritize your options. An organized life can always free up your mind to deal with important work matters. Regain your control and increase your productivity by using apps that help you reach your maximum potential. There are apps like Wunderlist and Trello that will help sort out your appointments and files. Apps like Toggl and Time Tune will help you get the most out of your time.

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Talk to a Friend

Sometimes all we need to feel less stressed is to have someone to talk to. The person doesn’t have to fix all your problems, he just has to be there to listen. Listening is a means of connecting. When you listen, you connect with other people who you give ability to understand your thoughts and feelings.  Other emotion-based coping techniques like talking aloud to yourself or writing down your thoughts are also good options. The important thing here is that you have to let your feelings out. Sharing has positive emotional rewards contrary to keeping all your emotions bottled up forever. Someone with a supportive network of friends and family would be able to handle stress better than people who are lonely and isolated in life.

Featured photo credit: http://imukund.com/ via imukund.com

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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