3 steps to stop work stress now

Being overwhelmed and stressed at work shouldn’t have to feel ‘normal’. Here are 3 proven strategies you can use to start feeling and performing better at work today.

It’s so easy to get stuck on the hamster-wheel of workplace stress. Usually a moderate level of stress is needed to meet deadlines and get the job done, but high levels of stress (like a hamster-wheel) takes us nowhere fast.

In fact, high levels of stress for a long period of time can lead us to burnout. We know when we’re burned out when we start to feel too tired to do things that we normally enjoy doing like meeting up with friends, playing with our kids or engaging in a hobby. If this is already happening to you, you might be burning out.

Here are 3 tips to get you off that hamster-wheel of workplace stress when you work with other people:

1. Stop comparing yourself to your colleagues. Comparing ourselves to others creates unhelpful “I should” rules that add unnecessary pressure on ourselves. For example, “I should work through my lunch break because no one else is having lunch” or “I should be more efficient in how I work because other people could probably get this done faster”. Neither of those thoughts are particularly helpful for reducing stress and completing the task at hand. Try challenging the “I should” statements by focusing on your needs and your own tasks. Your skills, strengths and weaknesses will be different from your colleagues’ so try to stop yourself from pushing a round peg in a square hole to get the puzzle done.

2. Prioritize and say “No”. Most people have experienced a situation where they have set out a specific “To Do List” at the start of the day but quickly realize that they were lucky to get through 1 task on their list let alone all of them. Personal priorities are often set aside because other people pile on work or colleagues ask for help. By the end of the day, you might have felt like you got nothing done.

To combat this, prioritize your tasks depending on deadlines. Ask the person giving you the task about the completion deadline and the urgency of their task. Flag with them other tasks that you are working on that may be more urgent and provide them with a more realistic deadline. A more radical approach (for some people) is to say, “Sorry, I can’t help you right now because I’m working on a couple of things”. Some people think it’s quicker to ask someone for help than to find out for themselves. This often saves them time but it spends yours! Saying “No” to these colleagues will actually help them become more resourceful and independent in their role.

3. Ask for help or resources. Sometimes we feel like we shouldn’t ask our colleagues or management for help because we should know how to get the task done or we should figure it all out on our own (did you notice all the “shoulds”?). Often people fear that asking for help is a sign of incompetency or weakness. However, this can be an isolating experience that puts extra pressure on you. You may have a task where it is necessary to ask for help but others aren’t aware of the resources you may need. Asking for help may involve asking for further direction and clarity on the task; asking someone for help in an area that’s not your expertise; or even further training from your company. Asking for help where needed will help you complete the task effectively and meet deadlines. If a colleague is unable to help you (because they have followed the first tip!), ask them to recommend someone else who may be able to help or a resource that can help.

Keep an eye-out for Stress Tips Part 2, where we talk about ways you can de-stress on your own.

If you would like help with managing stress and dealing with others in the workplace check out our website http://getuprise.com.au/ or email us at team@getuprise.com.au to find out how we can help you.

Author: Phoebe Lau (Uprise COO, Doctoral candidate in Psychology)