Guest post by Sheila Kloefkorn, President & CEO, KEO Marketing
At some point, every business professional faces work-related stress. Heavy workloads, ongoing distractions, and job uncertainty cause many workers to lie awake at night. Even if you hold the career position of your dreams, you can encounter stressful events. Meeting tight deadlines, giving major presentations, getting along with difficult coworkers or filling critical job openings can affect your well-being.
The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America Survey found job-related stress poses a serious issue. In the 2015 survey, 65% of American adults reported experiencing chronic work stress. Left uncontrolled, workplace stress can upset your physical and emotional health.
For example, stressful work environments can lead to headaches, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, and lack of focus. More serious situations can cause anxiety, depression, weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a weakened immune system.
Many employees deal with stress by turning to unhealthy foods, cigarettes, alcohol or even drugs. As an alternative, consider these measures for managing your stress levels if you are one of the countless Americans suffering from work-related stress:
- Identify Stressors — Recognize the patterns resulting from stressful situations. Which circumstances created pressure for you? How did you respond to these situations? When you know the source of your stress, you can develop a stress-reduction plan.
- Respond Positively – Make healthy choices when you feel stressed. Good choices include exercising, doing yoga, making time for hobbies and pleasurable activities, and getting good-quality sleep. Also, set boundaries, so work does not interfere with your home life. Avoid feeling pressured to answer the phone or check email 24/7. Your welfare requires disconnecting and taking the time to recharge.
- Practice Relaxing – Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness continue to gain popularity. Because they provide such great stress reduction, these tools positively affect all facets of your life. Also, identify the aspects of a situation you can and cannot control. Typically, you control your actions and responses, but not those of others. Only focus on what you have the power to change.
- Change Perspectives – How you see stressful office events may not be the same as others. You interpret events and facts subjectively. To help alleviate stress, you should take a more objective approach. Doing so helps you avoid taking situations and feedback personally.
- Influence Others – Although you assume responsibility for your behavior, you still must deal with other people’s stressful actions. Confront problem coworkers or employees respectfully. Tell them what behavior negatively affects you, how it distracts the team, and what changes they need to make. Transferring ownership of a problem helps resolve issues.
- Define Priorities – Typical work environments involve overlapping deadlines and changing priorities. To minimize stress, you need to clarify what is important and why. You must also consider your role, your personal goals, and the organization’s strategic priorities. Review your to-do list regularly and concentrate on projects that deliver the biggest impact.
- Get Support – Talk to your supervisor about the workplace stressors you identified. Because healthy employees typically work more productively, your boss will have an incentive to help you develop a plan to relieve stress. You can also turn to friends, family and a psychologist for support.
Workplace stress is unavoidable. Although you will always face some form of pressure on the job, you can find ways to minimize the adverse effects. Your health and happiness depend on you properly managing work-related stress.
Sheila Kloefkorn is the President & CEO of KEO Marketing Inc. The Phoenix Business Journal recognized Sheila as one of the Top 10 Business Leaders of the Year. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.