Sometimes it can feel as if there are not enough hours in a day to get everything accomplished; the work keeps on piling up. According to Right Management, by the end of 2013 70 percent of North Americans had not taken their vacation time. Because of the ever-present layoffs, employees fortunate enough to keep their jobs find themselves chained to their desk, taking on a large and forever-growing workload. Longer hours in the office and taking work home amount to no downtime, and more stress, for many professionals.
With all the pressure of keeping your job intact and fighting to rise up the ranks in the workplace, logging crazy hours and feeling immense stress can seem like the norm. But, as we all know, stress is extremely emotionally and physically taxing. So how do you balance? How can we have better work lives, while still maintaining our livelihood?
Studies have found that workplace stress levels have doubled since 2009, with many reports claiming that a decrease in mental-health could be the culprit. With stress over financial security, job security, managing workloads, and the constant connection to technology, mental wellbeing for working people has severely been suffering. It is extremely important that we focus on our mental wellbeing now, before it gets out of hand. No one wants to take time off work or go on stress leave; there are ways to manage stress now that can prevent a breakdown or burnout later.
1) Off The Clock? Disconnect
Many people have a hard time disengaging from their work-lives when it comes to technology. Through smart phones, tablets, or laptops, there’s always a way to stay connected and delve into a workload- regardless of where you are. But that’s the exact thing that contributes to workplace stress and drains productivity. If professionals want to find a balance, it is suggested they try separating their work hours from their home hours. When you leave the building— turn your work off. Resisting from checking work emails or doing side projects at home can help decrease work-related stress.
2) Take Control Of Your Work Hours
Many of us think that long hours and no breaks can mean increased productivity and getting more work done. However, it is recommended that while at work, professionals schedule breaks throughout the day, and set a list of priorities for projects that need to be given the most attention to. Ranking tasks in order of importance and breaking them down into manageable pieces can help to take the pressure off and keep professionals focused and on-task.
3) Structure Needs To Be Followed, Even At Home
Creating balance and routine even once at home allows professionals to feel in control of their lives and their emotions. Schedule time for relaxing, chores, taking a walk and stimulating the mind. Creating healthy patterns for downtime can allow us all to feel more empowered and accomplished when we do get back to the office.
4) Create A Peaceful Work Space
The mind is triggered by outside surroundings, and having a chaotic and messy office can only contribute negatively to stress and unhappiness. Because of this, it’s important that professionals find some sort of order and organization to their work space. Creating trays for work going in and out of their office, and labelling files in order of importance, can keep professionals on-track. Also, keeping their space altogether tidy, without much clutter, can soothe the mind and allow for consistent concentration when it comes to focusing on one task at a time.
Sometimes we get caught up in taking too much work on and caving under the added responsibility. Even though you may be the best one for the job, try trusting in others to share some of the work. Cross-training in the workplace can be a highly effective strategy, with all employees in the office then being capable to fill the needs of different roles. Professionals can find that by giving more responsibility to their coworkers, or simply handing off insignificant tasks, that they then have more time to focus on completing bigger projects more efficiently and effectively.
6) Eliminate Disruptions
There will always be unknown variables that pop up in our day-to-day and distract us from the task at hand. That being said, establishing boundaries at work, such as controlling the influx of emails, co-worker questions, and a busy phone line, can keep the stress to a minimum. A usual factor in stress and frustration is feeling a lack of control for one’s surroundings. If you can plan for the times when interruption and chaos is necessary, and then isolate some interruption-free time, you can get more accomplished and keep the stress-headaches to a minimum. Through careful planning and scheduling, the workplace can be a stress-free and conducive environment.
7) If All Else Fails, Take A Breath
It has been shown that mindfulness— the practice of focusing awareness on the present moment— can help professionals respond to work pressures and stressors. Staying present at work can help professionals to become better listeners, more observant, and communicators with coworkers. It also can help professionals to be aware of the triggers to their workplace stress, and help them to take a step back, take a breath, and think before acting. Controlled breathing and focusing on the desired outcome can help ground professionals and keep the stress at bay.