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Finally, How to Manage Stress at the Office

Finally, How to Manage Stress at the Office

Recently, while having dinner with one of my good friends, we got on the topic of work and how completely stressed out she is at the moment. I left the corporate world a while ago, but the stress I felt then is still very vivid and I could instantly relate to what she was saying. She was tired of leaving the office feeling frazzled, stressed, frustrated and in need of release almost every day. How often do you feel anxious, irritable, or depressed about work? The amount of individuals who feel this way regularly is actually alarming to me.

Think about your work environment, how is it? Do you have really loud noise constantly and poor communication? Do you feel pressure to work at optimum levels all the time? Do you have too much work and have too little time? These are the most common sources of stress in the office. Do you know how to manage it? I know when I was at school, I didn’t take the subject How to Manage Stress Effectively 101­: we are not taught skills to manage our worries, but it is a part of everyday life now.

It is normal to experience a certain level of stress in the office, but when it starts to undermine your productivity and results, you are juggling between success and failure in both that area and your health. Managing stress is not about ignoring it or shutting yourself away so you don’t have to think about it. Look out for the common signs of stress, I remember when I started my business and I thought I was managing my burdens really well, until I developed bruxism, I didn’t even know it existed!

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There are many strategies for dealing with stress –  Here are two of my effective strategies for managing stress

1. You must be bigger than the situatio.n and change your perspective.

I want you to think about the last time that you were stressed—what was your immediate response to the stressful situation? Think about it; did your response help the situation or did you make it worse?  In other words, you are a big contributor to the situation and the outcome, so you might actually be guilty for worsening the situation, harsh? Perhaps, but true.

You need to be bigger than your problem, not scared, fearful and stressed—problems are just things to handle, not the end of the world. Next, put the situation into perspective; I’m sure you have heard that it’s not what happens that matters most, but how you deal with what happens, and the same goes for stress. How you deal with pressure is important, as stress is often simply a question of perspective.

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The way you think leads to your feelings, and that dictates your actions. If you are feeling stressed, change your thoughts and your feelings will follow. It is important to manage your emotions because when you are overwhelmed, you can’t think straight anyway, which leads to rushed decisions and mistakes. Remember, what you focus on expands.

2. Get organized, because chaos contributes to your stress.

The second biggest contributor to stress is lack of time, or feeling that way. There are many factors that influence how much time you feel you have in a day. We all have 24 hours, but some of us feel like we have only half of that, while others accomplish everything they set out to effortlessly. If you only implement the ideas listed below, I know it will be enough for you to start to noticeably feel less stressed and overwhelmed on a daily basis and experience more enjoyment at work.

If you are not planning your days, prioritizing what you need to do and breaking your tasks into small steps, you are setting yourself up for stress. The first problem is that most individuals don’t actually have a system that is effective for them, and even fewer individuals stick to the system. If you are not planning your time, you are planning to be stressed.

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Remember, when you plan your schedule, include time for unforeseen crises every day, otherwise you will find it stressful that you are unable to follow your schedule. Delegate whenever you can—even the most menial tasks—so that you are able to focus on getting the more serious responsibilities dealt with. Identify your time thieves: what are you doing that is sucking up your time and leaving you stressed? I know over 100 time thieves, and most individuals deal with around 80 of them.

Time-management and stress are directly related. How many people do you know arrive late at work completely stressed and already exhausted every day? I am sure if that person simply woke up 15 minutes earlier, their morning would sing a completely different tune. It is very simple: if you are not managing your time, you are not managing your life as effectively as you could.

Continuous stress does not need to be a common story in your life—or does it? You choose!
If you want to master anything in life, whether is it your time management, stress, relationships, success, whatever it is, you first need to master your mindset behind it; that is your secret weapon.

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Stop looking around you for easy ways to eliminate stress and start looking within yourself. How confidently and honestly can you say that you manage your stress effectively at the office?

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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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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