Dealing with stress at work

It’s hardly a surprise that work can be a top cause of stress in our lives. But no job should be so challenging to cause a cold sore outbreak. Here’s how to keep challenges in perspective, diminish their emotional impact and deal with stress at work

Recognise the warning signs. Are you feeling overwhelmed at work? Losing confidence? Becoming irritable or withdrawn? Are you feeling less productive or finding your work less rewarding? Once you recognise these signs, you can take steps to minimise the emotional affect it is having on your life and reduce stress at work.

Pay attention to your emotions. Whether you like it or not, emotions do play a role in decision-making, thoughts and actions. Ignoring your emotions can make it difficult to understand what your motivations and needs are at work and to communicate them well.

Laugh it off. Not everything is in your control and you’re likely to be thrown any number of challenges throughout your day. By developing the ability to share a laugh with a colleague about an unexpected challenge, you can reduce stress at work.

Learn the impact of nonverbal cues and body language. Folding your arms may signal insecurity or anxiety (particularly with strangers; some studies find that with friends or colleagues, it registers as showing interest and being seriously engaged on a topic). So knowing how to read body language – and to match your messages with your own body language – can help minimise misunderstandings, making life at work much easier.

Give up on perfection. While it’s okay to have high expectations, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much and then fearing that you’ll fall short. Set realistic goals, work hard at what you are doing and perform the best you can.

Create a time and place for worrying. It should be the same time and place, and should be well before bedtime. During this time, you can worry about everything that you can think of. If a worry should come up during the day, write it down and plan to worry about it during your worry-time.

Don’t overcommit. At the end of each day, review your schedule and acknowledge your accomplishments. Then think about what you have to do tomorrow. Account for daily downtime and avoid scheduling things one after another or squeezing in too much in one day.

Plan breaks. When you make your schedule, plan breaks so you can get your blood flowing and let your mind rest. Take a walk or get more vigorous exercise mid-day – just 30 minutes of exercise can elevate your mood, make you more focused and increase your energy while relaxing your body and mind.