At some point or another, everyone experiences stress throughout their daily lives. Whether it be something as simple as paying the bills each month or worry about the daily news (aliens?); even good stress (eustress) can cause stress, such as a divorce or moving to a new place. Stress follows us through all aspects of our lives.
A major impact that stress is playing is in American workers who are ‘quietly quitting’ their job, due to increased workloads, which is leading to stress and burnout. “Quiet Quitting” is a new phenomenon that has arose and describes workers who are on the job, but are not putting in extra work or are emotionally engaged (is this different than the concept of engagement?).
According to an article from Gallup, engagement levels are at 32%, and could go lower if something isn’t done to help workers manage their stress on a daily basis.
Stress is inevitable and can cause many negative impacts on the quality of our lives and, even, our long-term health. Chronic stress can even occur without us realizing since we are so caught up in the daily motions and responsibilities of our lives.
By identifying the different factors that are causing stress in our daily lives, we can follow specific stress management techniques that are surprisingly simpler than one would expect. Stress management is not one size fits all and not all techniques work the same on every individual, but there are many things to practice to balance and notice our stress levels.
Assess Your Stress Triggers
This is the first step to managing stress – knowing what sets you off. For this next week, keep a notebook and write down what occurs in both your work and personal life, as this will help you identify sources of any stressors you encounter during your day.
Once you identify your stressors, now go back and note which are good stressors (they will resolve once reached), daily stressors (kids, balancing laundry and cooking, money, etc.), and then negative stressors (undue bill, health issues, layoffs at work, etc.). You can even give them a rating to determine their level of distress – this actually serves as a basis to gauge your stress before, during, and after the stressor is gone.
Once you know this information, then you can see the bigger picture to see which tasks are a priority, which can be put off or worked on gradually, and which can you let go of. We sometimes don’t see our situation when it’s kept in our head.
Now that you know your stressors, and their source, it’s time to get your ‘toolbox’ together of techniques and tools that can lead to calm and managing your stress when needed:
Although it may seem cliché, jotting down the various things that cause us stress and the emotions we deal with on a daily basis can greatly decrease our stressors and identify patterns and themes.
The way to utilize a stress journal is to jot down what you are experiencing when you recognize a stressful situation in your life. You can write down the event or experience that caused your stress, the different emotions you felt going through it, and the way you responded to the situation. Don’t worry about starting – just write; the words will flow with an open mind.
After a couple of weeks of doing things, you will likely be able to identify the themes where stress is occurring in your life and a solution may appear sooner than you would think. For example, if each of your stress entries occurred while at work, it could be that your company or the position you are in is causing you more stress than you thought.
Based on your various journal entries, you will begin to identify ways to manage your stress on your own – what have you tried and/or what was successful in the past that you can now start doing – and adapt your life in order to feel calmer and less overwhelmed. By writing down your situations, you will also be able to release the emotions rather than feeling like they are bottled up in your mind. This will relieve your brain fog and allow you to focus on the tasks in front of you. Look for ‘wins’ and solutions, as opposed to just spewing the words out. Remember, negativity breeds negativity.
Staying physically active for just a small amount of time each day is one of the best stress management techniques that is widely overlooked. Even though the things that stress you out may feel like they are priority over taking time for exercise, it is a huge stress reliever that is scientifically proven to improve not only your physical health but your mental health.
Whether it be going on a mindful walk before or after work; lunch breaks are a good time 0 take coworkers for some relationship building and support. Walking meetings used to be a thing of the recent past, so why not be retro and bring them back. Making time for physical exercise is a great way to relieve and strengthen the mind.
When at your desk, you can do leg lifts or, even walk around your chair; instead of the elevator, take the stairs or park further away from the building so get you walking. You will feel better which will make the daunting tasks you are stressed about a lot more manageable.
Although meditation may seem like a challenging task that takes a lot of time and effort, it is quite the opposite. Meditation allows you to connect with the mind and attempt to clear it of the different stressors that you experience throughout the day.
Even just 20 minutes a day when you first wake up in the morning is proven to have tons of health benefits and will increase your productivity and alertness throughout the day. Meditation is crucial to the brain and is the best and most important stress management technique. Over time, meditation has a direct link with stress relief and overall calmness.
Meditation is not meant to take thoughts away but to not feel you have to do anything about them. It’s a mindfulness practice that you can adopt into your daily routine. To get started, or as an energizer while at work, close your eyes and breath for 2 minutes, while focusing on your breath (you can then increase the time each day). Pay attention to the benefits you feel by doing this, i.e. feel calmer, blood pressure lowers, no stomach or head ache, etc. – as this should motivate you to keep going.
Find A Connection to Your Work
In order to not hate your job, take time to identify what is leading to your lack of enthusiasm as this will put you in solution-focused mode to do something about it. Find the connection, or joy, in the work you do – there is always something there; tie your knowledge, skills, abilities (SKAs) to your work, which raises your self-efficacy and purpose.
Stress will come but it doesn’t have to stay, or lead to catastrophic results which will happen if not managed. All of these three ‘tools’ will work if used consistently. If you find that you are having emotional or physical symptoms, or are unsure what to do, then seek outside help. You don’t have to do this alone. Your employer is not solely responsible for your happiness, which is an inside job.
If you’re struggling with workplace stress, and work-life balance, help is a phone call away. We specialize in stress management for both individuals and organizations, and can work with individuals, groups, and have training programs available. Don’t let your people go – the cost is high, both to your systems and processes, as well as financially. Don’t delay – call today!