Feeling overwhelmed with work can feel so common it’s normal to write it off without ever actually dealing with it. Whether it’s circumstantial and spurred on by a stressful project or the symptom of your personal mental health, feeling anxious and stressed out at work happens, often when it’s least convenient. But if you simply ignore it and keep pushing past it, you risk overworking yourself and making things worse, so what to do?
Managing workplace stress comes from a mix of preventing yourself from getting too anxious, and dealing with it when you can’t help it coming on. Proactive and reactive tools. Here are some ways to help when you’re feeling overwhelmed…
You’ve probably heard these before but there’s a reason for that, they work. Sometimes these steps are so obvious we completely forget about what an impact they can have on maintaining our mental health at work…
- Drink water – the most fundamental thing to keeping your head clear, and taking a moment to drink a glass will always help calm down even the most intense stresses
- Getting enough sleep – if you’re staying up till the early hours of the morning working, you’ll only harm your productivity as nothing can replace a healthy sleep schedule
- Eating well – when we feel anxious it’s normal to be tempted by unhealthy food that will just end up making us feel more sluggish with less energy to manage what’s stressing you out, so by making sure you’re not skipping meals or over-indulging, the love you’re giving to your physical health will rub off on your mental health. Promise!
- Exercise – speaking of physical health, even just going on a small walk on your lunch break can give you the fresh air and endorphins you need to ease your mind so when you get back to work you’ll be better than ever
- Listen to music – if you’re in the thick of a stressed-out state of mind, listening to some music will liven up your energy levels so things feel a lot less dreadful when you’re working on something that’s inducing a lot of anxiety
What To Do While You’re Working:
As much as it would be nice, when it comes to having a bad mental health day because of work stresses we can’t just take the whole day off and have everything sorted when we come back the next day. It doesn’t matter if you work from home or an office, sometimes you need to take the steps to manage your stress in the middle of the workday, that’s where these tips come in.
If you can take a break, no matter how brief, here are some quick ways to calm down:
- Take a meditation break – whether you’re using the Calm app on your phone or just sitting somewhere quiet for 5 minutes with no interruptions, taking the time to clear your head by meditating and focusing on your breathing will calm you down and help avoid a full-blown meltdown
- Get away from your computer – or any screen ideally, but if you choose not to meditate, definitely try not to melt your brain with blue light. Having a drink of water or getting out in nature briefly can do wonders when you feel like smashing a keyboard (or crying onto one!)
- Phone a friend – no this isn’t Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but taking a moment away to call someone who you know will listen to you and send some words of assurance can be the difference between a good and bad day, even if you have a trusted colleague who can relate like no one else can, just venting out your frustrations at the very least gets them out of your head
- Stretch it out – you might not have to go for a walk or exercise out your woes, but just a small break where you step away from your desk and walk around is not only good for your body in the long run, but your mind
Managing your work environment and habits is also a key way to avoid getting anxious while working.
- No interruptions – try not to surround yourself with potential distractions whether they come from other screens or other people, this will help you stay focused and able to deal with any issue that comes up with a clearer mind
- Be comfortable – if you’re physically comfortable, you won’t be constantly fidgeting and agitated which will reflect on your mental state while you’re working
- Avoid conflict – whether it’s petty workplace drama or an emotional client email, if you’re in the midst of a stressful problem, the last thing you need to involve yourself with is conflict, and if it’s something business-related that can’t be ignored but you’re in an anxious mood then…
- Delegate – you need to forget about multitasking and the myth of doing everything at once and utilise the help of your team, especially when you are working on something that’s making you stressed out
At The Start Of The Day:
Setting yourself up for success is just as relevant when it comes to managing work stresses. If you begin the workday with good, organised habits, you’ve got a nice safety net to fall back on when those problems arise throughout the day!
- Have a balanced schedule – whether you work for yourself or someone else, make sure that throughout the day you schedule time to have breaks to regenerate so you don’t work yourself into a frenzy, and it’s especially important to take those breaks (no matter how busy you are)
- Give yourself extra time – feeling rushed more often than not leads to feeling stressed, so start the day by leaving a bit early so you can take your time with your commute if you have one, that way you don’t need to worry about being late and can carry that attitude throughout the day
- Be organised and realistic when planning your day – being conscious of what is required and what you can achieve is going to help you not overwhelm yourself when trying to work through a difficult workday, so by breaking down a bigger project into smaller tasks and being wary of deadlines, you know what is expected of you and how to achieve it, eliminating the stress of the unknown
- Have a support network – whether it’s your colleagues, friends, family or boss. If you are feeling particularly stressed out or tend to feel that way often, by having an open dialogue of communication you always have somewhere to go when you need help which, let’s face it, we all need from time to time
What To Remember:
When we’re in the middle of feeling anxious at work, our thoughts and worries can often spiral so there are helpful things to keep in mind to stop your mind from spinning out of control. Even keeping a list like this close by so you can glance at it when you begin to feel those thoughts, can help you re-centre and get back to a clear state of mind.
- Act don’t react – be aware of what is in your control and what isn’t, if it is, then consider the steps you can take to manage the situation but if not, do not let it work you into a frenzy because it is beyond your control
- Identify when you’re stressing yourself out – take a step back and ask yourself if this is actually stressful and can be resolved, or if this is a problem that you are escalating, the distinction will help you feel more in tune with reality
- Your feelings are valid – ultimately it doesn’t matter what the scale of the problem is, you are entitled to your feelings and how they present themselves, but in managing them you can control your feelings instead of the other way around
- You won’t get fired – this is a common fear when it comes to workplace anxiety, but your superiors understand that this is normal and that everyone gets overwhelmed every so often and needs time to readjust.
- Perspective is everything – emotions like stress and anxiety make us feel bad for expressing ourselves because our minds tell us they are bad, but try changing your perspective to remember that our minds aren’t always telling us the truth and all emotions are natural
- You don’t need to be perfect. I’m not! No one is, and that is ok. Striving for perfection will only feed anxiety so instead work towards being the best you can be, and stress is a normal part of everyone so don’t feel the need to bury it all the time
However, if you struggle with chronic mental health issues then consult a professional. They can help!
Want to discuss ways a VA can help release some of your workplace stress and anxiety by outsourcing, book your free 20 minute discovery call here!