How to deal with workplace stress

Here at Quest Recruitment, we know that even when you love your job, you are sometimes susceptible to work day stresses. A certain amount of healthy stress can keep you on task and help you to work to your deadlines, however, there can be times when stress becomes too much. We all know that getting to a stage of dealing with burnout will not help us in any faucet of our life. It is extremely important to take note of when your workload is increasing to a stage that you may need help dealing with. When this happens, there are steps that you can take to manage and cope with work-related stress.

1. Prioritize your work load

Making a list can really help to de-stress and reorganise the brain! When you take a minute to reflect on your workload and prioritise what must be done, it can break your day into manageable tasks instead of one daunting task.

Depending on your personality type, you may find it easier to make a broad list that just outlines the tasks that need to be done, or you may like a list that goes into more detail of the jobs to be completed.

Set aside some time, either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening and create your next to do list. Knowing that each thing is accounted for and will be dealt with can help.  

2. Form positive relationships in work

When you are stressed, speaking to someone can help to relieve this. Share your thoughts with someone that you trust such as a colleague, a friend or a family member and by talking through them you may find that it becomes less intimidating.

If you feel that just speaking about them to a trusted source doesn’t alleviate the stress that you are feeling, you may need to speak to you line manager and discuss the workload that you are currently handling. It is not a weakness to admit that you may have too much on your plate and they would rather you be honest with them!

When at work, just remember that everyone is in the same boat as you which is why sharing work stress with colleagues can be quite therapeutic. Having the occasional after work drinks with your work friends can lead to a more positive work environment and closer relationships to be formed.

3. Make smart food choices

We hear this everyday – what we eat affects every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, we wish that this wasn’t true so we could eat all the Taytos and Dairymilk as we would like, but it is important to keep this in your mind and make sure that you are fueling yourself correctly for work and your life.

In order to set yourself up for the day in the best way possible, make sure to eat a balanced and nutritious breakfast. There are a few easy ones that you can prepare at home the night before such as overnight oats or chia pudding with strawberries. Bring a home-made lunch in to the office with you and have a set plan of what to eat for dinner during the week.

If you find it hard to cook and prepare during the week, get some meal prep done at the weekends. This could involve making up a big pot of curry/chilli and spreading this out over lunches or dinners for the week. You’ll find this will also save money in the long run and if you enjoy cooking, it can be a great distraction from those Sunday Blues as you prep for the week ahead.

4. Exercise

Another thing that we are constantly told, is how important it is to exercise and move throughout the day. Anyone with a Fitbit will be aware of the notification they receive when it hasn’t registered 250 steps in an hour (we know that is a small amount of steps but sometimes you sit down at 09:00am and it feels like you don’t get up from your desk until home time!).

Going out for a walk at lunch time is something that can aid you, your mental health and the stress that you are feeling at work. You get a break from your surroundings, a chance to take in some fresh air and hopefully some vitamin D if the sun is shining. When you come back into the office, you are refreshed and ready to take on the next part of your list!

It’s also important to give your eyes a break from a screen, so make sure to not spend your lunch cramped over your desk, computer screen off but squinting at your phone screen, this will definitely not lead to you feeling refreshed or less stressed!

5. Sleep

It can seem impossible to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep – especially if you are getting up at 06:00am to get ready for work! Not everyone wants to go to bed at 22:00 every week night just to try and get 8 hours of sleep.

An important thing to remember is that not everyone actually needs 8 hours of sleep. You should find out what your sleeping pattern is and then make a schedule around that. Some people function better when they sleep between 6.5 – 7.5 hours. It really is different depending on the person.

You could also be someone who classifies themselves as a night owl and you may not get to sleep until late hours every night but you are working to a traditional working day schedule. This could be attributing to your stress as you are not working to the rhythm of your body. If your company offers flexible working, ask your manager about coming in later in the morning and working later in the evening.

If you find it difficult to get to sleep because you still have thoughts of the day swirling around in your head, see if there is a way that you can alleviate this. Take up an activity in the evening that allows you to clear your head such as going to the gym, journalling or something similar. You should also have a defined routine that you follow before nodding off – wash your face, brush your teeth, take out your clothes for the next day and read a chapter of your book – something that you can do, every evening, which will let your brain know it is almost time to sleep.

A final tip, stay away from your phone. Laptop or tablet for at least an hour before you want to go to sleep. The light in these electronics could be attributing to your struggle to fall asleep and avoiding it in the hour before you’d like to sleep can really help you and you will be less likely to find yourself staring at the ceiling going through everything that you will need to do the next day.

6. Learn how to relax

If you can figure out a way to recentre yourself throughout the day, you will find this bringing more control to your day and making it easier to cope with the stress that you are under. Take a moment away from your desk to take a deep breath or learn how to carry out some breathing exercises that are created to calm you down. When you take these moments to refocus yourself, you will find it easier to complete your lists and various tasks that you need to get done throughout the day.

If you are finding it hard to relax during your spare time and work takes over a lot of your thoughts, try investing time in a creative outlet that may aid in reducing this stress. Some people swear by colouring books (for adults!) that contain complicated patterns and give you an excuse to switch off for half an hour at a time. Take this time out to yourself at the weekend and enjoy being in your own company with your favourite music.

No matter what tip from this article you find most useful, just remember that learning to cope with stress is something that will stand to you throughout the recruitment process and in your future professional pursuits.