Workplace stress can increase heart attack risk by 23%, studies show.
CPS Recruitment is a proud supporter of Syracuse’s American Heart Association, whose efforts to create a world of better health have changed the lives of many.
More than half of U.S. and Canadian workers feel stress every day, according to the latest State of the Global Workplace report by Gallup. Stress has been trending upward since 2009 and it spiked during the global coronavirus pandemic.
While workplace stress isn’t always preventable, there are strategies to identify and cope with stress in healthy ways.
What to know about workplace stress
Our bodies respond to workplace stress in the same ways we’d respond to any other kind of stress. The good news is that we’re pretty good at coping with occasional stress on our own.
However, chronic or unmanaged workplace stress can lead to some big problems.
If left unchecked, workplace stress can cause headaches, stomachaches, sleep problems, short tempers, and difficulty concentrating.
Chronic workplace stress can even contribute to long-term problems like burnout, insomnia, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety and depression.
To cope with stress, some people turn to unhealthy options like drugs and alcohol that come with their own health risks.
Here are 6 healthy ways to cope with workplace stress
Identify what’s making you stressed and how it affects you
Workplace stress can be triggered by a lot of factors that aren’t always easy to identify.
The American Psychological Association recommends keeping a journal for a week or two to track situations where you experience stress and how you respond.
Try to note as many details as possible each time you experience intense stress, including:
Your thoughts and feelings
Where you were and other details about the environment
The people and circumstances involved
Journaling is meant to help you identify patterns in your stressors and responses.
Establish healthy boundaries
Work can easily seep into our personal time if we’re not careful. Try to avoid work-related tasks and messages during the evenings and on the weekends.
Make time to relax and recharge when you need it
Taking a break can sometimes be the most productive thing we can do – whether it’s five minutes to stretch your legs or a 2-week vacation.
Even short breaks can stave off fatigue, restore motivation, boost productivity, and improve learning, according to Psychology Today. Try to take short, regular breaks during the day to reset your thoughts and step away from your stressors.
If you can’t take a break, try switching to a different task to shift your focus away from what’s causing you stress.
Try to exercise most days
When you’re feeling stressed, exercise is your best friend.
A few minutes of exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which are your body’s built-in tools for managing stress, according to The Mayo Clinic. Plus, you’ll get your thoughts off of work and boost your self-confidence.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week.
Exercise can reduce and prevent stress while lowering your risk of developing health conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure. Regular exercise also improves insomnia, cognition, depression, anxiety, and your overall sense of well-being.
Create a comfortable work environment
Have you ever considered how your physical work environment is contributing to your stress?
Although an uncomfortable desk chair or sub-par coffee probably won’t be the things that make you want to quit your job, they certainly don’t make you feel any better when things get stressful.
Make sure your main workspace is comfortable and relatively distraction-free. Ask your supervisor about changing or updating your work area so it’s more functional.
Avoid unnecessary conflict and gossip
Workplace gossip can be a tempting distraction, but it can end up causing more stress in the long run.
Instead, avoid situations and people that can drag you into unnecessary workplace conflicts.
Talk to your supervisor if you find yourself getting dragged into workplace negativity, or if you need help resolving a conflict.
Reach out to a professional for help
Reach out to your doctor if you’re too overwhelmed to deal with your stress alone, or if you use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist or prescribe medicine to help.
Your company may have an employee assistance program, which can look for ways to resolve your stressors and help you cope with stressful situations.