You’re not alone if your job or career is stressing you out. Learning how to deal with stress at work is more important than you may realize. Among the workers in the United States, more than 60% feel stress 3 days a week or more, on average. The good news is that there are simple ways you can eliminate or at least deal with the work stress you might be feeling. This article, we’ll share 17 different techniques for managing job stress in 2023.
How to Deal with Work Stress in 2023
1. Get enough sleep
The simplest (but not always the easiest) way to deal with stress in the workplace is done outside of the workplace.
Sleep is arguably one of the most important factors when it comes to your mood and mental health. Ensuring you’re getting enough sleep every night (around 8 hours) helps give you the mental fortitude and cognitive energy to deal with the stresses of the 9 to 5.
Sometimes, what stresses us out at work begins with how we react to what’s happening at work. If you find yourself more sensitive to things happening at work, or feeling overwhelmed with stress from seemingly small things, take a step back and look at your mental health.
There are other factors but most people who work hard don’t receive enough sleep. Take some time to ensure you’re in the proper headspace at work before determining that it’s actually your work that’s stressing you out.
At the end of the day, be sure to follow a night time routine to help you get the proper sleep you need to have less stress at work.
2. Meditate at work
If you notice your workplace stress is causing you to have high blood pressure, excessive stress, cardiovascular disease, or even muscle tension, relaxation exercises like guided meditation can help if the problem is temporary. If the problem has been lasting years, you might just be the unlucky person in a toxic environment.
However, if the work stress is temporary, such as preparing for a once a year upcoming conference or seasonal work like tax season or holiday shopping, a meditation practice can help manage your emotional health and any mental health problems that arise from your job.
Meditation is all about focusing on your breath. The more oxygen the brain gets the calmer you become and the more aware you become too. You might even have a moment of clarity to help you problem solve at work more efficiently.
To deal with job stress, find time before your shift and during breaks to practice a quick five or ten minute meditation to calm yourself during this stressful period. By managing your workplace stress at work, it prevents it from affecting your personal life.
3. Resist trying to be perfect at everything
It’s not uncommon for the highest performers and hardest workers to be the ones that deal with the most stress.
There’s nothing wrong with giving a career you care about your all, however, be careful that you’re not trying to be perfect at every aspect of your work.
Some self-awareness is really important here. Whether it’s realizing that there’s simply some things you’ll never be perfect at or realizing there’s people at your work that can do a better job than you can, learn to let go at your obsession with perfection.
It’s not about becoming complacent or lazy. It’s realizing when something is good enough for most people, or when the law of diminishing returns starts getting into play where working on something more becomes worth less and less of your time and energy. Especially your mental health.
4. Take advantage of the employee assistance program
Depending on which place you work, you might have access to an employee assistance program to help you manage work stress. You can speak to counsellors for your personal life or work life, whichever needs the most support. By talking to someone you’ll be able to manage your physical and mental health. You might get advice about exercising more or trying cognitive behavioral therapy.
If a personal issue is seeping into your workplace, it may add workplace stress. Sometimes when we’re going through the stages of grief or dealing with a medical issue, our attitude at work begins to change. It can have negative effects on work related activities. Telling co-workers you’re dealing with some personal issues without going into detail can help relieve some tension.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
There comes a point at work, where you realize that the best approach not only to your own sanity, but for the sake of your coworkers, is to better pick your battles.
It’s tempting, especially when you’re new and eager to make your mark, to tackle every issue, conversation, project, and idea that comes your way.
It’s tempting to try to give your attention and energy to as many things happening around the organization as possible.
However, you’ll find that this quickly begins to drain you.
The better approach is to focus on what you can have the most impact on but what also has the most impact on you, when it comes to dealing with stress at work.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most things that happen, most issues, most conflict, and most challenges are ultimately not that big of a deal.
Unless your line of work is life or death, don’t take it too seriously.
6. Take note of the warning signs
There’s a slight difference between chronic stress and when you feel overwhelmed. Be aware of things you’re doing, which could be a sign of unhappiness in the workplace. If you’re binge eating from stress, focus on good nutrition, to prevent yourself from ending up with a diabetes diagnosis.
If your job is highly stressful, consider doing a check-up at the doctor’s office to do some disease control, check your blood pressure, and even a weigh-in to ensure you’ve been doing physical activity.
If you have a smartwatch, note your sleep quality. If you’re waking up from nightmares often, that’s a sign that your work environment is causing a lot of chronic stress. Aim to do some progressive muscle relaxation before you sleep to prevent sleep disturbances.
Remember your well being is more important than your job. No job is worth risking illness over. Prioritize your mental and physical health over your job duties.
7. Avoid the coworkers that gossip and are negative
This can be a challenging philosophy to follow at work, since you can’t really choose who you work with, but try to avoid people who gossip, and have a cynical or negative attitude.
Even if you can’t physically avoid these people, try not to engage them when they bring up gossip or act cynically.
Instead, your best approach here is to be more optimistic and positive at work, and focus on productive and constructive conversations.
It’s very easy (and sometimes entertaining) to listen or become involved in office gossip and politics. But you’ll start to find it can become exhausting. Worse yet, get too involved and it begins to stress you out.
Even if what’s being said or gossiped about is true, be the shining light that works on improving the culture and making the place you work at, a better place to work at. Be the person who lifts people up, does acts of kindness for their peers, and celebrates team member’s milestones.
8. Take mental health days
One way to manage job stress is to take advantage of mental health days. If you struggle with mental health outside of your job, consider looking for roles with four day work weeks or Fridays off in the summer.
Keep in mind that a day off or two won’t solve the problem of work burnout. They simply give you a much needed break to recover from it. You’ll still need to work on a solution for managing difficult coworkers, a heavy workload, and tight deadlines.
But taking time to recharge your batteries (and turn off Slack for longer than a weekend) can be beneficial to your wellbeing. No one can stay switched on all the time.
9. Prioritize the most important tasks first thing in the day and week
If it’s your actual work that’s causing you stress, or you’re dreading the things you have to do at work, ensure you’re prioritizing the most important tasks first every day, and early in the week.
“Eat the frog” as Brian Tracy says. This will help you better deal with stress at work. The more you put things off, the longer the stress about doing the thing lingers. Plus, just imagine the relief you’ll feel after you finish this task. Imagine how much energy it will leave you for the rest of the things you’ll need to work on.
10. Avoid politics and controversy
Most work stress comes from the topic of politics. Whether it’s talking about political issues at work and getting into arguments about it or trying to navigate office politics for a promotion.
People who constantly become combative on political issues are more likely to feel stress or even experience high blood pressure. You will never change someone’s mind on a topic. It’s not your responsibility to either.
Instead, focus on your work-related tasks. If you do the work, and do it well, you’re more likely to get that coveted promotion, pay raise, or bonus.
11. Take regular breaks
This doesn’t just mean your lunch break. This can be as simple as taking a minute to have a mental break where you close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and disconnect from worrying about the future and relax yourself.
Of course, if your work allows it, take more breaks, even if it’s just a few minutes to walk around the office. Even if it’s just a few minutes to talk to a coworker about their weekend. Even if it’s a few minutes to use the bathroom and wash your face.
Don’t underestimate the effect of not breaking up your work with a few breathers. It won’t just help you deal with stress, but it can make you much more productive.
12. Set work boundaries
A key way to manage workplace stress is to start setting boundaries. No, you don’t have to stay online after hours. Catching up on work on the weekend? Why would you do that, you’re not on the clock.
Your well being depends on your ability to set the right boundaries. It’s important to spend time with family members, friends, and simply relax. Work demands don’t matter on your off hours. It’s not your problem anymore.
If you have a physical workspace, leave it at lunch and after hours. If it’s in a home office, don’t walk into it to check your email on the weekend or in the late evening. Create boundaries that separate your work and home life.
13. Leave your work at work
In this connected world, it’s becoming more and more difficult to unplug.
This holds even more true in the work world.
Whether it’s messaging apps, emails, text messages, or simply being able to get work done through your phone, it’s tempting to allow work to follow us home, even when we’re off the clock.
It’s important to work towards leaving your work at work and encouraging yourself to develop good habits. Deal with stress at work, not at home.
Some extreme tips are to leave work phones and work computers at work, so you’re not tempted to check these devices at home. This might mean always getting your work done in the office, even if this means staying a few extra hours to ensure that happens.
If that’s not possible or doesn’t apply to you, practice scheduling your personal time at home, just like you might schedule meetings or tasks at work. If you find yourself always reaching for the work phone or checking the work email or Slack.
In addition, leaving your work at work means mentally as well, not just physically.
This can be much more challenging but allowing your work to follow you home and dwelling and worrying about work things at home isn’t worth your energy. Leave it for when you get back to the office. You’ll handle it when you’re at work. You’re at home now.
14. Go for a lunch-time walk
For the sake of your physical health and to help you deal with workplace stress, go for a lunch-time mindful walk every day at noon.
You can go eat a quick lunch, then go for a walk around your office’s neighbourhood for twenty to thirty minutes. Not only does it give you a much needed dose of fresh air, but it also helps you disconnect from your work and any work related stress.
Your physical health matters. So finding time to get more steps in and move around will help you manage a lot of that job stress. Bring a coworker you get along with if you need someone to chat with or listen to some music and enjoy your lunch break– whatever helps you de-stress best.
15. Practice mindfulness at the office
All your stress comes from your thoughts.
Your thinking might place you in the past, dwelling on something you did at work or that happened, or place you in the future, worrying about an upcoming presentation or task.
The best way to deal with job stress is to get out of your head and into the moment.
When you’re stressed, you’re lost in thought.
To get out of your thoughts, and eliminate stress, practice mindfulness.
An easy way to do this is to practice mindfulness meditation.
Try the practice above. Find a quiet spot in the office and take at least 5 minutes to be mindful.
16. Listen to music while you work
One way of managing job stress is to listen to music while you work. Having background music can help you enjoy work a little bit more– especially if you have a heavy workload causing your work related stress.
Listening to your favorite new songs when they come out every Friday can help the workday fly by. You can reduce stress by listening to positive songs that just make you so happy.
Not only is music good for your well being but it’s also good for your productivity.
17. Consider switching teams or jobs
To deal with workplace stress, particularly job stress caused by coworkers or bad bosses, consider switching teams or companies if you begin to develop chronic stress.
Prioritize your well being. Know that know job is worth Sunday scaries, late night panic attacks, or knots in your stomach to get through the day.
Not all jobs suck. Work related stress does vary job to job. So, if you find yourself in a toxic environment, the job stress will only get worse with time. You can relieve stress by asking for a team change, role change, or depart from your company altogether.
Experiencing stress at work isn’t a requirement. Sometimes the best stress management is working in a good environment, with happy coworkers who lift each other up. You can manage stress by taking breaks or sick days when your workload is heavy and you need a break. Or changing workplaces when you realize it’s not you. Work stress doesn’t need to take over your life. Practice daily meditation, exercise, and self care in general for the tough days. But don’t let the tough days turn into tough years. Your workplace shouldn’t be an uphill battle.