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Published on March 10, 2021

14 Simple Ways To Cope With Your Job Stress

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14 Simple Ways To Cope With Your Job Stress

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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

Reference

[1] BetterHealth: Walking for good health

More by this author

Forrest Talley

Forrest is a Clinical Psychologist who has been helping adults, teens and children for over 30 years.

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Last Updated on November 8, 2021

How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

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How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

Do you often feel stressed for most of your day? Maybe you always feel a burden that you just can’t get rid of? Focused meditation might be your answer.

In this article, I’ll explore what focused meditation is, how it differs in the pool of many styles of meditation, and how to implement and start this practice today. Likewise, I’ll highlight the benefits of a focused meditation practice for your overall health.

What Is Focused Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware through breath and attention to connect the mind, body, and spirit.[1] Meditation as a whole can change the structure and function of our brain. That being said, focused meditation or a guided meditation for focus is by far the best one. Meditation for focus and concentration can come in different forms. Experienced meditators use the following:

  • Mindfulness – this meditation involves us to be focusing on your breath and observing thoughts. This allows us to focus on our feelings without becoming too absorbed in them.
  • Concentrative – a meditation that gets us to focus on a particular point; be it a word, breath, object, or a point in the space you’re meditating. This is meant for us to pay attention to that point and prevent our minds from getting distracted.
  • Moving – this meditation involves gets us to focus on slow and repetitive movements similar to yoga or tai chi. The goal is again to be focusing on your breath while relaxing your body and mind with the movements.

Focused meditation, also known as concentrative meditation, is the practice of meditating and bringing your attention to one single object. This object can be something practical and tangible, such as a mandala painting or a candle flame. It can also be something abstract, such as a phrase (also known as mantra) or a sound (such as Om).[2][3]

Whatever you settle your attention on becomes the focal point. None of these object examples are better than others—they are simply choices depending on what you’re looking to get out of your practice. For example, practitioners will choose candle gazing to interpret the images the flame makes in the shadows while others will choose a mantra because that particular phrase or word empowers or heals them.

How Does It Differ From Other Meditation Styles?

All meditation styles and practices overlap and build on each other. Their basic foundation is the same: to bring the practitioner insight and introspection.

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There is no right or wrong way to meditate, however, the various types of meditation can enhance particular qualities. Based on your personality and needs, one type of meditation may be more useful to you than the other. The 9 types of meditation are:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Spiritual meditation
  • Focused meditation
  • Movement meditation
  • Mantra meditation
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Loving kindness meditation
  • Visualization meditation

Focused meditation, specifically, is the practice of focusing on one single object for the duration of the practice. How this differs from other meditation styles is that it gives the practitioner something tangible to do: focus. It’s almost like giving your mind an action to perform—listen to this sound, repeat these words, watch this flame, etc. This is also one of the reasons why this particular meditation style is great for beginners!

One of the biggest challenges in any meditation practice is that the mind gets carried away and we lose ourselves to random thoughts. This “obstacle” is actually a style of meditation in and of itself called Vipassana.[4] However, in focused meditation, we give the mind something to do so that it’s not simply left to its own devices. This type of meditation is beneficial for beginners and for practitioners who prefer some structure and guidance to their meditations.

The Benefits of Focused Meditation

In this style of meditation, what you’re really doing is exercising your mental muscles. Your brain is highly affected by dedicated and concentrated meditation practice.

Scientists have performed countless studies on focused meditation and have found that active meditators have more gray matter volume in their brain and, therefore, offsetting the cognitive decline that comes with aging. So, not only does practicing focused meditation help you learn how to focus better on certain tasks, but it also improves similar functions, such as memory. [5]

Likewise, it helps in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, which our society is currently crippled with.[6] By settling your attention on an object, you are essentially building your ability to observe your thoughts and sensations from a place of objectivity. This allows you to detach from negative self-talk that is often the breeding ground for depression and other mental illnesses.

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From a guided meditation for focus to practicing it yourself, daily meditation for focus comes with several benefits:

  • It’ll reduce stress
  • Help you to control anxiety
  • Enhance your self-awareness
  • Improve attention span
  • Helps you to focus on the present moment
  • Increase your creativity and imagination
  • And boost your patience and tolerance for things.

How to Practice Focused Meditation

Here are six tips to help you practice focused meditation. Based on your availability and interest, these tips may change and evolve. That’s the point: to create a structured practice that caters to your needs.

1. Find a Comfortable Seat

As with any meditation practice, comfort is truly key. The physical body responds to meditation practice by alerting you to whether it is comfortable and supported or stressed out and in pain. This is best observed in practitioners who tend to slouch and lose the tall, supported spine that is essential to meditation practice.

A simple rule in meditative sitting is to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees. Therefore, choosing to sit in a chair instead of on the floor may be a smart decision or perhaps propping yourself up on a cushion. For meditation techniques overall, it does not matter how you sit. All that matters is that you are supported and comfortable sitting for some time.

2. Choose Your Object of Focus

Every meditation training session is going to be different because no single day is the same for any one person. Therefore, experienced meditators know that choosing an object is more about listening to what you need at this time versus following any doctrine or “rule.”

If you’re not sure and have a hard time deciding, make focusing on your breath and pay attention to the inhale and exhale is a good option. Then, assign each inhale and exhale a number, and once you reach 10, start over. This is one of the simpler methods of keeping your mind occupied—by giving it a task. This also trains your mind, and over time and with practice, your mind will easily focus on an object without too much effort.

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3. Set Your Desired Time or “Go With the Flow”

If you have a structured routine and would like to stick to your schedule, by all means, set a gentle timer for how long you’d like your meditation to be. This is also your opportunity to throw out the notion that any meditation has to be a certain length of time to be correct—it does not.

Likewise, if you have the time, you can also listen to your body and come out of your meditation when you feel it’s right to do so. This is often a beautiful practice of listening and tuning in.

4. Relax Your Body as You Focus on Your Meditation

Typically, when we are focusing on something, we tend to tighten our body. Observe this next time that you’re concentrating on something: your jaw will tighten and your shoulders will squeeze up towards your ears.

As you sink into your meditation, keep this in mind and check in with your body every once in a while. Let your shoulders sink down your back and release any tension through your jaw and face. Lastly, relax your brow and let your eyes be heavy in their sockets. Then, return to your object of meditation. Observe if your meditation changes at all by relaxing your physical body.

5. Return to Your Breath and Object When You Get Distracted

Notice that I didn’t say “if you get distracted.” That’s because you definitely will drift off with random thoughts or get pulled away from your object of focus. In meditation, distractions are almost guaranteed. Therefore, it’s your opportunity to practice detaching yourself from feeling guilty or inadequate to continue.

Over time and with practice, you will find it easier to stay with your object of focus. In the meantime, however, notice when you get distracted. Pause and take a big breath in and out. Check in with your physical body and relax. Once you’re ready again, return to your object of focus. Meditation is simply one long cycle of wandering and coming back to yourself.

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6. Journal Your Experiences

When your meditation practice has ended, another powerful practice is to jot down any experiences that you felt. There may have been insights and “downloads” that you acquired during your session that you may want to record.

Likewise, you could write about any challenges that you faced. These are great lessons that will continue to show up for you, and it’s nice to keep a journal of them to see how they evolve and progress over time (and they will). Lastly, you can write about what works and what doesn’t, as far as picking your objects of meditation go. This way, you can learn what you most associate with and feel comfortable with.

While these steps are simple, it’s easier said than done. Whether you’re starting out with a guided meditation for focus, loving kindness meditation, or transcendental meditation, anticipating failure the first time you try these things is healthy. Furthermore, congratulate yourself for even making slight progress like noticing and returning to the present moment and noticing the sensations you experienced.

Final Thoughts

If practicing meditation causes you to feel distracted and unsupported, give focused meditation a go! With the help of an object to bring your attention to, it structures your meditation time and offers guidance and support.

Dedicating yourself to this style of meditation will help increase your memory, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote better cognitive function. Even though any style of meditation is a powerful way of taking care of your mental health, focused meditation gives your mind a tangible task with which to grow and strengthen.

More About Focused Meditation

Featured photo credit: Lua Valentia via unsplash.com

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Reference

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