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Mental Wellness

14 Simple Ways To Cope With Your Job Stress

Written by Forrest Talley
Forrest is a Clinical Psychologist who has been helping adults, teens and children for over 30 years.
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To be effective and happy at work, it’s important to be able to manage the stress that invariably comes with your job. Because there are such a wide variety of occupations, there is also a broad array of different sources of stress. For example, many of the pressures that a self-employed plumber will confront are different from those of a school teacher, doctor, or mail carrier.

On the other hand, many of the stress points will be similar across professions. These include difficult coworkers, the need to meet deadlines, unexpected increases in workload, unrealistic expectations from superiors, and more.

Learning how to effectively deal with these stressors is essential. Those who lack good coping skills eventually dislike their job. They spend Sunday dreading going to work on Monday, and when back at work, they count the days until the weekend. All these will most likely lead to them being burned out and possibly quit the job due to too much stress.

However, there is a better approach, and it begins with using simple strategies that anyone can master. Let’s look at a handful of things you can start to do right away to get out from under the cloud of job stress.

Here are 7 simple ways to cope with your job stress while at work:

1. Learn to Say “No”

Much of your stress may be caused because you over-extend yourself when responding to requests from co-workers for help. Sure, it’s great to be a team player, and it’s wonderful to help a colleague. But when this means your own work consistently suffers, then it’s not really doing you any good.

By the way, keep in mind that when you say “no,” it is a complete sentence. It needs no explanation—you don’t have to explain why you said “no.” Just say it with a smile.


2. If You Can’t Say “No,” Take a Different Approach

If saying “no” is not an option—as is the case when your boss gives you another assignment—then take a different approach.

You can tell them the following instead: “I’m happy to take that on and here is a list of my current tasks and projects that require all my time at work. Which of these projects or tasks would you like me to put on hold so I can pursue this new assignment?”

3. Stay Away From Gossip

Stay away from work-related gossip and drama. Is it entertaining? Most often, yes. But it also sucks up your time and creates tension in the workplace. Moreover, it also saps your mental energy. Focus on your work, not drama.

4. Remind Yourself What’s Important in Your Life

At the beginning of the workday, take a moment to remind yourself of what is most important in your life. In all likelihood, the answer will not be your work. Is work important? Yes. Is it the most important? Probably not.

When you look back on your life, you will not say, “I would have had such a rich and happy time if only I had completed that Johnson report a day early.” This is not to encourage a failure to meet work-related obligations, but you should always keep them in perspective. This will substantially diminish the job stress you’re experiencing.

5. Write Down 3 Priorities for the Next Day

At the end of your workday, write down three priorities for the next day. When you arrive at work the next morning, review the list again. Make sure you complete those top priorities—you’ll end each day with a sense of accomplishment and a clear view of what you need to tackle next. A sense of progress and clarity reduces stress.


6. Take a Brief Walk

A five-minute stroll through the office—or better yet, outside—can provide you a mental reset and other health benefits.[1] Don’t stop walking just to talk to others. This isn’t a break for socializing. The goal here is to get your blood flowing more freely creating a small jolt to the nervous system that will improve your mood and concentration.

7. Take Deep Breaths

Take two or three deep breaths. However, not just any type of deep breathing will work. What I personally recommend is diaphragmatic breathing, though there are other helpful breathing exercises as well. The diaphragmatic breathing exercise helps stimulate your vagus nerve, which helps to produce a state of calm.

Below is a video explanation of this breathing exercise.

What you do at home will also influence how stressed you are at work.

The following 7 tips will help you feel less job-related stress while in your home:

8. Get a Few Minutes of Exercise Every Day

Get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day. It doesn’t matter what kind, as long as it gets your heart going and you can do it without overworking your body, such as walking, using a treadmill,  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), resistance training, jumping rope, etc. Exercising will help relieve the day’s stress and give you a sense of accomplishment. Both of these act to counterbalance the stress you get from work.

9. Mind Your Sleep

Pay attention to sleep. Make sure you are getting the amount and quality of sleep that your body requires. Everyone is different in this regard, but 7 to 9 hours of sleep is typical. Be disciplined about getting to bed on time, and if you are sleeping poorly, try some bedtime or evening routines to help improve your sleeping habits.

10. Leave Work Where It Belongs

Leave work where it belongs—at work. If it means that you cannot complete essential tasks before the end of the day stay longer, then leave work behind. Constantly taking work home is a recipe for chronic stress. It is like having an unwanted house guest who refuses to leave and then goes with you on your vacation.

11. Pay Attention to How You Transition From Work to Home

Use your commute home to shift your mindset. You can try to listen to a podcast, music, or plan an evening out. Once home, take ten minutes to relax before jumping into the fray of family life. Doing so improves the odds that you will have an enjoyable evening—and a strong buffer against work stress.


12. Take Notes on What Best Prepares You for a Good Workday

Keep notes on what makes for an evening at home that best prepares you for a good day at work. Is it quality time with your spouse/children? A half-hour pursuing a hobby or other interest? Reckless heavy drinking (just kidding)?

Whatever it is, begin to make certain that you regularly have that activity as part of your after-work routine.

13. Prepare the Night Before

Prepare for the workday the night before. Put your workbox, briefcase, lunch, car keys, and anything else you will need in one spot. Set out your clothes. Make a lunch ahead of time. You get the idea. Five minutes of prep makes for a smooth transition in the morning, which reduces stress and increases confidence.

14. Wake Up Early

Waking up early will mentally shift your perspective as you’ve gotten a jump on the day. The morning feels less rushed, and there is time to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts.

Hitting the snooze button, on the other hand, feels as though you are avoiding the challenges of the day. Don’t go there. Shift your mindset. You should wake up early to take control and make the most of life.

Final Thoughts

Job stress impacts all of us. It cannot be avoided, but it can be managed. Those who make the effort to learn the skills required for dealing with this sort of stress become happier people. They also become more effective at their job. Most importantly, they develop a sense of confidence and optimism that helps them live life more fully. Give it a try. You’ll like the results.


More Tips on How to Cope With Job Stress

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com


[1]BetterHealth: Walking for good health
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