Feeling stressed at work? If so, you’re not alone. A recent Gallup Poll on stress, worry and anger revealed that 55% of Americans said they experienced stress “a lot” during the day, up from 46% in 2006.
In the workplace, stress can affect your attitude, relationships with colleagues and work performance. Although a modest amount of stress is normal, high levels of stress can be dangerous to your health and may contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression.
But there are ways to help manage stress. Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., national director of health strategies, UnitedHealthcare, shares the following tips that may reduce your workplace stress and get you back on a healthy track performing at your usual best.
1. Talk to your boss.
Consider having an open discussion with your boss about the stressors associated with your work responsibilities. Ask if there is an opportunity for additional skills training, or possibly even restructure your job to make it more manageable and better aligned with your interests and skills. Also, check if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), which may provide available counseling and online resources.
2. Brush up on your time-management skills.
We’ve all had days when it seems impossible to get everything done. In some cases, poor time management is the reason we feel this way, which then may trigger stress. For your next work assignment, talk with your supervisor before getting started to plan realistic goals, priorities and deadlines.
3. Take advantage of workplace well-being programs.
An increasing number of employers are offering well-being programs through their health plan and are making healthier food options available in the workplace. Some employers offer gym reimbursement programs such as UnitedHealthcare’s Gym Check-In, have onsite workout rooms, offer stand-up desks, and encourage walking meetings and well-being challenges like taking the stairs. For your physical and mental health, combine exercise with a well-balanced diet, O’Brien said.
4. Grow your support network.
If you have a close colleague at work, talk with that person and explain your work stressors and brainstorm possible solutions. If you don’t, then reach out to friends and loved ones. It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself after a stressful event.
5. Focus on yourself.
If you’re feeling stress, a simple treat such as going to a movie, enjoying your favorite meal or just getting away to take a brief walk can give you time to unwind and recharge. If you cannot get a handle on your stress, talk to your doctor. She or he may recommend a counselor who could help you find other ways to help reduce or manage the unhealthy stress in your life.