It happens to all of us. The phone won't stop ringing, people keep asking you the same question, or your boss hasn't noticed the extra work you have done. It feels like it will never end. You're ready to scream. More and more people are reporting, that they feel stressed out at work.
According to a survey from The American Psychological Association, more than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is costing American corporations billions of dollars a year in lost work hours and medical bills. Not to mention, what the cost is to your quality of life, both in and out of work.
After working at non-profits, for-profits and in my own practice. I've learned a few things on how to reduce stress in the work place, that I'd like to share with you. Here are six tips to help reduce stress at work:
- Boundaries! Need I say more. I started working straight out of college and didn't understand the importance of saying no. Before, I knew it I was buried in work. Which meant I didn't have much of a social life nor was I taking very good care of myself. It also caused burn out and resentment. Don't say yes when you mean no. Make sure to ask lots of question about the project your supervisor would like you to take on. Now, that I have set better boundaries I actually like my work.
- Letting go of the "invincibility" myth. Remember when you were a teenager and you thought you were invincible. We did stupid things like drive too fast or set unrealistic goals. Thinking everything would work out just fine. I think some of us were lucky to make it out of our teens alive. I know I was. Usually in your late 20's or 30's you realize you are not invincible. People we know have died and we stop doing the blatantly stupid stuff. This is when it is time to start acting like an adult. But, being an adult can be just as dangerous. Working 60 hours a week, trying to be the perfect partner or create the perfect home. We get stretched too thin. This will cause burn out and it could cause you to get sick. I'm really glad I let go of this one.
- Cultivate an environment of gratitude. Just as a bad attitude is contagious, so is a good one. Think of 25 things you are grateful for in your life, right now. Start with a roof over your head, a warm bed to sleep in, reliable transportation and plenty of food. We live in a country of abundance. Which is something to be grateful for, but it can leave you with that feeling of wanting more.
- Don't lose sight of your purpose. We are more than our work or family, for that matter. Don't lose sight of yourself in the process. Your sense of purpose is who you are at the core. Maybe, you work in finance and are crunching numbers all day. But, you'd really like to take an art class. Then, set aside some time for it. Let your creative side out, you can write or color. If you don't have time for a class, set aside 5 minutes a day and do something creative. When you neglect your sense of purpose, you create unnecessary stress in your life. When our life is full of work and obligations, we begin to feel resentful and even angry. Start feeding your sense of purpose today, have tea with a friend or watch a comedy.
- Stay away from the drama queens. It's easy to get caught up in the gossip. It's important to understand where the source of stress is coming from at work. If people are always gathering in the kitchen and gossiping, try to stay away. In the long run, this can bring you down and affect your productivity. If you've been at your job a while, then you probably know who the drama queens are. Try not to worry what they are talking about and move forward.
- Stay away from negative self-talk. This is an easy one to get caught up in. We've all done it and it can only bring you down. Start each day with a positive affirmation. One of my favorites, is, 'I am enough." The next time you feel like beating yourself up with negative self talk, say a positive affirmation. You are actually retraining your brain when you do this. This will help you feel better. If you can't seem to stop the negative self-talk, this could be a symptom of depression that needs to be treated by a professional.