Do you know that there is one silent killer who hides in your workstation closets, not letting you focus on your work and seeping most of your energy? No! do not try to find him; it will make him stronger. Yes, you read it right! The name of the Killer is Stress. No matter how much you deny it, at some point in time, we all search how to reduce stress at work or in personal life.
There is a prejudice that technical writers do not get stress at work because our job does have such kinds of tasks. Well, to all those people, the grass always looks greener on the other side.
No matter what your designation is, every job can be stressful at some point in time; that includes your favorite ones as well. With the current Covid pandemic situation, I feel like we are living on the edge. Anytime, any small incident can shatter us into pieces. To enjoy both our professional and personal life and to maintain a work-life balance, we need to find out ways to reduce stress, but first, let us look at the causes of stress.
Causes of stress at the workplace
Numerous studies prove that causes physical disorders such as headaches, stomach upset, high blood pressure, pain in the chest, or sleeping disorders. It is also one of the major causes of mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
The reasons can be many, but here I have listed a few based on my experience that makes me stressed.
Sometimes the word “deadline” itself makes me stressed. When I hear, “Hey, we are approaching the deadline!” it gives me shivers. Especially, when I am miles away from finishing my deliverables. I bet no one loves the deadlines (if you are the comment, do mention it in the comments below). Yes, of course, it teaches me to plan better.
Unplanned and Urgent works
Unplanned and Urgent work is one thing that I always pray not to see. Imagine a situation, in the morning, you prepared your to-do list, prioritize everything, and right after your daily stand-up meeting, your boss hands over you another task and say, I want this done before the end of the day.
Feel like this has happened to you!
Unclear tasks or vague requirements
Sometimes we receive tasks or requirements that are unclear to us, where we are not sure what to do. For some reason, we are hesitant to seek clarity, maybe because of the fear of what others will feel.
Unclear tasks make us work more and often re-work a lot because of our mistakes. The worst part is if we fail to meet the expectation, it can lead to depression.
In the present Covid situation, the economy is in bad shape and full of uncertainties. Most of the companies are in cost-cutting mode, while the rest are trying to get a dollar in return for every penny spent.
The fear of losing our job makes us work harder; we try to compete for everything and prove our worth in the company. This reason makes the companies increase the expectation and workload. In return, it increases the undue stress on every individual working for the company. Job insecurity is one of the major causes of stress at work.
Well, most of the time, it is the overload that causes stress, but underload can also be one of the reasons for stress.
Companies always work to increase their return on investment (ROI). To meet this demand, we all push our subordinates to deliver more; Sometimes, to test their strength, if they succeed, we set that as a standard, and then, we go for more.
In the longer run, this increases stress for all of us. Remember, we all are in the same race, just in different lanes.
While underload is a situation when you do not have much work and has a lot of time in hand, you should be thinking of how this could be one of the causes of stress. When you are not assigned work in the office, you start questioning your capabilities. You feel insecure about your job and future in the organization; that leads to stress at work.
Lack of capabilities or doing a job which does not fit with your skills
Often we accept the jobs or tasks for which we are not trained or we do not have skills; the reasons can be many, but the output is the same.
When we are not trained, we end up delivering low quality work. If we want to meet the quality requirement, then we may take a longer time to learn and practice the task before delivering the actual work; this can lead to miss the deadline.
The dilemma of choosing quality or time can cause stress at work. The stress level can be very high if our job is at stake.
How to reduce stress at work
The list of reasons for stress in the workplace is long. However, let’s focus on how to reduce stress at work.
Workplace wellness is important
Your work desk is the place where you spend one-third of your day. Ensure that your workstation supports your happiness and health throughout the day. When most of us switched to work-from-home culture, now most of the companies are looking for opportunities to make work-from-home permanent; all of us are not lucky to have their dedicated work station at home. Some of us are working from our bed, sofa, or dining table. While buying new furniture may not fit in our budget, here are some small changes that can help boost your energy throughout your day.
- Add some green indoor plants around your work table. Green plants improve air quality and are good for the eyes.
- Keep a water bottle in the reach of your arms. Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day is very much important. I hate to say this, but it makes me go to pee more. In a sense, frequently going to the bathroom is also good, because it gives you a break.
- Ensure proper lighting condition, if possible, get natural light. Natural lighting saves electricity consumption, making eco friendly, and provides you a warm environment that will boost your productivity and relieves stress.
- Keep something that smells good at your desk. You may deny this, but if your workplace smells good, you get positive vibes. It can be anything, perfume dispenser, scented candles, or a flower pot (ensure that you change flowers daily).
Prioritize and Organize
When we have too much on our plate, we feel confused, and that feeling of being confused is one of the biggest causes of stress at the workplace.
The very first step towards reducing stress at the workplace should be to prioritize and organize your work. Here are some steps to prioritize and organize your work:
- Make clear and SMART Goals: Before starting any work, you should have a clear picture of your target, goal, or output you want to achieve. You may have to discuss with your manager or Lead and write clear goals.
- Prioritize your Goals: After creating clear goals, the next task would be to prioritize them. Read your goals clearly, look at the importance and urgency of the tasks, and then prioritize your daily tasks, by keeping in mind that each task should get you closer to your goal.
- Focus on 2-3 tasks a day: Some people say that they are good at multitasking, but in my opinion, multitasking kills productivity. Everything may seem important and urgent to you, but you have to find out 2-3 things that have the biggest impact on your goals.
- Set deadlines: When we are prioritizing our goals, we looked at the importance and urgency of each task. If a task does not have a deadline, it never going to get urgent. It will always get pushed down the list. As a general rule, always set realistic deadlines for every task and achieve them.
- Make a To-Do list: I read in a book, you should create a Master To-Do list and a daily To-Do list. Your master list can have the tasks for a week. Every morning, look at the importance of each task in the list and create a daily to-do list by taking 2-3 tasks from it. If you get some extra time in your hand, then take out some tasks from the master list and finish them.
Build Positive Relationships at the workplace
I am not asking you to fall in love with your colleague! That’s your personal choice.
Even though for most people it is not easy, but building friends at the workplace improves your productivity and reduces stress. Most of the corporate are spending a lot on team-building activities to build positive relationships in the workplace. There is a high level of trust between friends. If all your team members are friends, you will feel comfortable discussing all your issues. This in return, increases trust and transparency and improves communication at the workplace. The best way to build positive relationships in the workplace is to do the following:
- Start a buddy or mentorship program. At the start, it is not easy to open-up with everyone. To initiate the conversation, you can assign a buddy to every new hire or a mentor to all the associates. With a buddy or mentor, an associate can confide in all their issues, personal or professional. It is true if you discuss your issues with someone, the stresses are reduced.
- Stop indulging in your smartphone during your break times. With the present technology, we all are so virtually busy on social sites that we forget there is a real-world around us. During your break reduce your phone time and talk with your colleagues. This will help you get insights into others’ life and at the same time, an opportunity to share yours. Sometimes we keep brooding on some issues, which others have already conquered. If we discuss our issues on the table, we may get expert opinions.
Maintain a habit of daily exercise
This is one thing that you need to outside your workplace because for most people Gym facility is not available at their workplace. However, doing small stretching exercises at regular intervals can be achieved at your work desk.
Exercise is good for both body and mind. It can help elevate your mood and reduce stress at work.
I believe when your stomach is not happy, your mind cannot do well. Try sleeping with an empty stomach, from my personal experience you can’t sleep.
In the present time, people take extra care of their looks. To do so, we go for diet plans that make us eat food that we don’t like.
I would suggest you go for food that is healthy but at the same time, you like eating it. Eat healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates that will provide energy to your brain. Healthy food gives you the power and strength to learn how to reduce stress at work.
Take proper rest
When we are tired and stressed, we always say get some rest. Why wait to get stressed? Why can’t we make a habit to take proper sleep?
Well!, it is true that not getting proper sleep is a symptom of being stressed. However, researchers also believe that poor sleep can result in stress disorders.
- Sleep for eight hours without fail. Even though it is not proved that how much sleep do we need in a day. It is a good practice if you sleep for 6-8 hours a day.
- Stick to the schedule. Our body has its internal clock and if do not stick to our sleeping schedule, we are disturbing our body’s clock. If we stick to the schedule, after a few days you won’t need an alarm clock.
- Avoid oversleeping on weekends: For most of us, especially those who work in the IT industry, we become lazy over weekends. No matter how tempting it may look, avoid oversleeping on weekends and stick to your schedule.
While in the office, physical comfort is of high importance. If you are not comfortable sitting on your chair, you will experience stress. In the longer run, you can even develop a sore back and be more reactive to stress because of it. So, it is important to ensure that you have comfortable surroundings, comfortable office furniture, and a calming workplace. This reduces distraction, frustration, and eventually the stress.
Concluding How to Reduce Stress at Work
Feeling stressed is a common issue among working people. However, in the present situation, when life is asking too much from us and people around us are expecting more, we need to take some extra care to avoid stress.
There are a few things that are out of our hands, for example, job insecurity, unplanned, and sudden urgent tasks. However, if we keep brooding on them, even though we cannot control them, we are wasting our time and energy. Instead, try focusing on things that you can control and this will be your mantra for the year 2021 on How to reduce stress at work.