5 tips for crushing work stress

5 tips for crushing work stress

With the fast pace of working life today often comes the unfortunate side effect of stress. Here, life coach and counsellor Alex Kingsmill gives five helpful tips for getting work-related stress under control.

Work stress is a big deal.

Lifeline reports that job pressure is the number one cause of stress for Australians and according to Safe Work Australia, work-related mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion every year.

Work stress affects your performance when you’re on duty and it can also impact your personal life, reducing both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Stress can be gently and effectively managed. Here are five easy ideas.

1. Speak to others

The Australian Psychological Society’s Stress and Wellbeing Survey indicates that spending time with friends and family is the most effective way we can manage stress. It makes sense: talking releases negative feelings, encourages connectedness and reminds you that you’re cared for and valued.

So grab someone you trust and have a chat.

2. Talk to yourself

When you’re feeling stressed at work, it also helps to talk to yourself… in a top-athlete kind of way!

Sports people consistently draw on self-talk techniques to help them manage performance-limiting thoughts and experiences. The methods are easily adapted to the workplace.

Positive self-statements are a good example of how you can talk to yourself. Best used by people with relatively robust self-esteem, these short phrases, as Psychological Science suggests, also need to be realistic and believable. So instead of convincing yourself that you’re ‘the best’ you could choose instead to remind yourself that you’re ‘doing your best under pressure’.

3. Manage your emails

The Future Work Centre reports that work emails can be a big source of stress. Workers around the world send and receive more than 100 billion emails each day. Technology is considered so vital that we actually choose to keep this source of pressure constantly turned on and accessible.

Setting and enforcing some simple boundaries can make a huge difference. You could make family dinners device-free, limit your weekend email time or disable your push notification options.

4. Be mindful

Mindfulness is a terrific way to manage stress. Awareness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests paying attention, on purpose and without judgement, to the present moment. But when stress takes hold, it can be hard to do.

An easy way to begin a mindful practice is to focus on a regular task, like washing your hands. As you wash: pause, pay attention and take a deep breath. Practise this and when it becomes a habit, extend it to another activity. Soon you’ll be moving through your day from one mindful moment to the next, enjoying a greater sense of calm.

5. Track your stress

In order to manage your stress effectively, it’s really helpful to understand it.

For just a week, why not have a go at monitoring your stressors and your reactions. There are apps specifically designed for this purpose, or you can go old school – with a pen and paper!

Once you’ve gathered some data, you can use it to identify patterns, anticipate stressful situations and implement strategies to support a calmer, less-stressed you.