With deadlines abound and COVID-19 protocols still in place at many offices, stress in the workplace is becoming more prevalent. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 71 percent of workers in the U.S. felt tense or stressed out during the workday in 2021. Increased stress is also a factor that influenced the “Great Resignation” for many of those working in the U.S. According to the APA, more than two in five workers in the U.S. intended to change jobs in 2021, which is an increase from 2019 when only one in three U.S. workers intended to change jobs. Increased stress in the workplace can lead to decreased job performance, reduced cohesion in the office, presenteeism, absenteeism, and even burnout. Fortunately, there are various ways you can combat stress in the workplace.
In order to cut down on stress in the workplace, it’s imperative to practice mindfulness and take note of triggers that may be causing your stress. Workplace stressors can differ depending on personal factors and the work environment. Unclear job expectations, dramatic shifts in the economy, personal life, management fatigue, and abdication of leadership are all common workplace stressors. Workplace bullying is also a more subtle but nonetheless impactful workplace stressor. Your coworkers can contribute to your workplace climate. Toxic or negative coworkers can steal your energy and make your job more difficult and stressful environment.
Once you’ve recognized stressors at work, address them promptly. If left unacknowledged; stressors can eventually lead to a decline in mental health. Here are a few ways to mitigate stress in the workplace:
1) Take a break
Although it sounds great to give 110 percent at work, that’s not a sustainable option for your mental and physical health. Taking on too much can lead to fatigue.
2) Recognize your periods of maximum productivity
Most of us have periods in the day when our focus and productivity are at their highest. Aim to accomplish the bulk of your work within these periods.
3) What you see is what you get
Reinventing your work environment can alleviate stress. Try adding a plant to your office, putting pictures of family and friends on your desk, or even using an air freshener. If your office is darker, consider opening window blinds or adding a lamp. If your workspace is drab and lifeless, maybe add some cool colors with a nice picture or chair pillow.
4) Talk about your stress and needs with your supervisor
It’s often the responsibility of the employee to speak up if something in their work environment is causing them undue stress. Perhaps you have a conflict with another employee. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by your workload. Maybe it’s as simple as the thermostat being set too low. Don’t be afraid to address these issues with your superior. Employers want the best work from their employees, which means they will help employees mitigate stress if they are aware. Increased stress often results in high employee turnover, which isn’t good for you or your supervisor.
5) When stressed, prioritize self-care
Remember that it is not selfish to take time to manage your stress.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, stress persists in our work environment. In cases where stress continues, even after making adequate adjustments and efforts to remove it, you may want to consider transitioning to a more conducive work environment.
“In practice, I often recognize poor work-life balance as a result of self-imposed expectations. I encourage setting a major long-term goal and a few minor short-term goals to help achieve the primary goal,” said licensed clinical social worker, Sherrard Marrow of TPMG Behavioral Health. “After achieving each goal, check in with yourself to ensure that your goals are not a detriment to healthy work-life balance.”
Addressing workplace stress enhances productivity, improves creativity, and promotes clear decision-making. Reducing this kind of stress can also mitigate occurrences of mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression. If you need help finding ways to mitigate stress on the job, talk to a TPMG mental professional today about how you can reduce your stress and maximize your work performance.
About Sherrard Marrow, LCSW, CCTP
Sherrard Marrow, LCSW, CCTP is a licensed clinical social worker with experience in mental health illnesses, substance abuse, and emotional disorders. As a behavioral therapist, Sherrard uses his varied experience to provide inpatient interdisciplinary treatment, crisis counseling, substance abuse counseling, and treat individuals suffering from trauma, anxiety, and depression. Through his knowledge of psychosocial functioning, he integrates therapeutic interventions using evidence-based practices. Sherrard primarily works with adolescents and adults and has a special interest in treating trauma and substance abuse cases.
Sherrard joined TPMG Behavioral Health in Newport News in 2021.