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Tips for Handling Job-Related Stress

*Excerpts taken from the American Psychological Association Help Center website

Causes of out of control stress
Out of control stress is often due to:

  • Our perception of how much time we have to get things done
  • Worry about another's perception of how well we're doing
  • How much we drive our bodies and minds to achieve without sufficient rest and relaxation.

Fortunately, there are many ways to help manage job-related stress.

Things you can do
Remember that many of the causes of undue stress stem from our point of view. Lucky for us that means we have some control over it; it's literally in our minds. Because of the mind-body connection, our bodies react to stress and then we have symptoms. But we can do something about it.

Look at it differently
To deal with stress we can begin with the body or mind. Sometimes it's a matter of reframing a situation and looking at it from a different perspective - literally. As you think about the issue take a different position and look at it from a different angle. Like looking through a different window at the same scene, you will get a different view of your stressor.

Take workday breaks
*Even 10 minutes of "personal time" will refresh your mental outlook. Take a brief walk, chat with a co-worker about a non-job topic, or simply sit quietly with your eyes closed with your attention on your body and breath. When we put attention on our body and get out of our head we get some relaxation and relief from stress.

If you feel angry, walk away
Mentally regroup by counting to 10, then look at the situation again. Walking and other physical activities will also help you work off steam. Contrary to some therapies, venting anger in the moment escalates the emotion and can easily get out of control. What helps is perspective - remove yourself from the situation and then come back after you get some emotional distance from it.

Set reasonable standards for yourself and others
Don't expect perfection. Do your job responsibilities and performance criteria accurately reflect what you are doing? Be proactive - talk to your boss about your job description and surface incongruities. Working together to make needed changes will not only benefit your emotional and physical health, but also improve the organization's overall productivity.