Workplace stress has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.¹ And worst of all, it can even lead to death—an article from 2012 reported that women in high-stress jobs were 40% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.²
That’s right—long hours at the office, tight deadlines and “crunch sessions,” those berating speeches from your boss, they all add up. And they may have lethal consequences.
So what can you do about it? Here are some tips:
1. Talk to your boss. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, discuss it with your boss and see if there’s anything that can be done to lighten the load.
It’s no small task. For many, their boss is the source of the stress! That’s why it’s critical to prepare beforehand. Write down how you’re feeling and how work stress is affecting your life. Come up with a few ways your boss can help.
Often, these conversations go better than expected. A good manager will realize that pushing employees to the brink is a foolish strategy.
But know this—there’s a real chance they won’t get it. Worse still, they may blame someone else, or even you, for the problem. In that case, it might be time to consider a new opportunity.
2. Take breaks. When you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Go for a walk—it’s the go-to strategy for great writers and artists. Download a meditation app and take a 10-minute breathing session.
The key is consistency. Taking routine breaks at the same time every day not only gives you something to look forward to, it also normalizes taking a break in the eyes of your boss.
Again, if your boss gives you grief for taking care of yourself, it’s time to consider moving to a new job.
3. Get organized. Make a list of your tasks and priorities, and try to tackle them one at a time. Break large projects into small components that you can knock out piece by piece.
Why? Because feeling overwhelmed can be a huge part of being stressed. You know the feeling—you see a reminder that you need to finish a large project and your heart sinks. Suddenly, all you can think about is how much you have to do in such little time. Often, it feels easier to shut those feelings down and procrastinate, which only makes the problem worse.
When you have a plan of action, it’s much easier to stay calm and focused. You know exactly what needs to be done and when, so you can put your mind at ease and get to work. And knocking out small pieces of the project motivates you to keep pushing forward.
4. Stay healthy. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep.
It’s tough to stay healthy when you’re feeling stressed, but it’s important. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Eating nutritious foods can help keep your energy levels up and your mind clear. And getting enough sleep helps you stay alert and focused during the day.
If you can’t seem to make time for your health, try this: schedule your workouts into your calendar, just like you would any other meeting. And set a bedtime alarm to remind you when it’s time to turn in for the night.
5. Seek help if needed. If you’re struggling with stress and it’s impacting your health, work, or personal life, it may be time to seek professional help.
There are many great therapists who specialize in stress and anxiety. They can help you develop healthy coping strategies, establish boundaries, and manage your stress in a more productive way.
In the end, workplace stress is a real threat to your health—and maybe even your life. But by taking some proactive steps, you can help protect yourself from its harmful effects. So don’t wait—start making some changes today.