The Top 5: Tips for Managing Work Stress
Tips from the trenches to keep your copier career on track
When “Just Relax” Just Doesn’t Cut It
Stress management isn’t telling someone to simply not feel how they’re feeling. It’s a process that empowers you to face your stressors, eliminate what you can, and learn to live with what you can’t. Here are a few strategies for managing work stress:
- Identify the problem. Before you can start managing your stress, you need know what you’re dealing with. The questions you should ask yourself are simple – who, where, what, when, how and why – but finding the answers may not be so easy. Consider keeping a list during your workday, jotting down a few details whenever you start feeling stressed. Over time you’ll likely see patterns emerge. There may be particular people who add to your anxiety or certain tasks that you consistently dread. You may notice that some things upset you more when you’re feeling hungry or tired. Be sure to pay attention to your reactions to these stressors and how you feel afterward. Are your current coping mechanisms helping or hurting?
- Make a plan. Now that you can see the problems, take some time to evaluate your stressors and decide which ones can be eliminated, mitigated or avoided. Can many of your little stressors be traced to core issues with organization and time management? Try making a few small changes like breaking your projects into more manageable tasks, coming in early, taking regular breaks, or saying “no” when your plate is too full. Do you feel more anxious at the end of the day? Schedule your more difficult tasks in the morning and leave your easier or more fulfilling work for the afternoon. Do you find it hard to relax in the evening or sleep at night after a hard day? Do what you can to create some boundaries – don’t bring work home, plan fun activities to keep your mind occupied, exercise to clear your head, don’t check your email before bed.
- Work on your reactions. You can’t eliminate all sources of stress, unfortunately. For issues outside your control, the best thing you can do is manage how you handle it internally. For example, if some of your stressors make you feel defensive, frustrated or angry; find ways to calm down without lashing out. Studies find that yelling, slamming doors, punching pillow and other aggressive actions actually increase your anger and create an addictive cycle that is hard to break. Instead, take a minute to sit quietly and focus on slowing your heartbeat and breathing. If you’re struggling to manage your reactions, sometime the best thing you can do is acknowledge you need help. Whether that comes from family or friends or a professional counselor/therapist, the key is to remember you don’t have to deal with it alone.
- Take it to management. After addressing the issues within your control, it may be necessary to discuss it with someone in management. But how can you do this without sounding whiny or, worse, incapable of doing your job? You might frame it as a discussion to help improve your performance. You could start with a quick summation of the purpose of your position and how your duties help your department and company as a whole. For example, technicians might emphasize the benefits of long-term customer retention with high-quality service while sales professionals might discuss expanding the customer-base and increasing sales with existing clients. Then you can show them how seriously you take your duties by discussing the time and project management strategies you’ve developed on your own. Once you’ve established that you aren’t coming to your manager empty-handed, bring up the issues that you haven’t been able to solve and ask for their advice. For some of you, unfortunately, an open discussion with management might not be an option – they might even be part of the problem. If you’re in that particular pickle, it may be time to walk away.
- Get away. Sometimes you just need a little distance. Even small breaks, like going for a walk over lunch can give you a bit of breathing room. If that isn’t enough, make plans to take a day or two off. On your little getaway, don’t forget to actually get away – unplug if you can, check your phone minimally if you can’t. If that still isn’t enough, you need to seriously consider leaving. Use your experience to help refine what you’re looking for in a position, management and company as a whole. And when you’re ready to take that next step, Copier Careers is here to help!