According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being.” Workplace demands can put physical and emotional stress causing short- and long-term effects on a person’s well-being. Long hours, workplace injury, and budget cuts can make workplaces an increasingly stressful environment.

Learning how to manage stress in the workplace is a skill that gets better with use. By educating yourself on the triggers and how to cope with stressful situations, you’ll be able to focus on the work at hand without getting overwhelmed and jeopardizing your health.

Below are warning signs to watch out for, and some effective ways to cope with workplace stress.

Signs and symptoms of excessive job and workplace stress

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Substance abuse

Tips for managing stress at work

  1. Don’t over commit yourself: Avoid scheduling meetings back-to-back. Set aside a day of the week that is meetings-free. If you’ve got too much on your plate, consider delegating tasks to your team members.
  2. Schedule regular breaks: Sitting at your desk all day can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. Set aside time in your calendar to get up from your seat and step away from your work to briefly recharge with a walk or a coffee break. You’ll return to your seat re-energized and more productive!
  3. Exercise regularly: A healthy body results in a health mind. Physical exercise has shown to improve the chemical imbalances in your brain, specifically by producing endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. They not only reduce stress, but also improve your ability to sleep.
  4. Sleep seven hours a night: Too much stress can make us anxious and cause sleep deprivation, which can lead to other illnesses such as depression. Research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours a night. Similar to children, set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it!
  5. Break projects into manageable steps: Managing what appears to be a never-ending flow of work can get exhausting. If you have a large project or several large projects on the go, create a step-by-step plan or a work-back schedule and focus on one manageable step at a time.
  6. Practise meditation: If we only thought as far as the present moment, we’d probably have less stress in our lives. Meditation can help to cultivate that mindset by clearing away the information overload that builds up on a daily basis adding to your stress. Allocate a few minutes every day to decompress and let go of the clutter in your head. Check out these meditation tips to help you get started.
  7. Laugh often: If you can’t find humour in every situation, then you’re taking life way too seriously. Develop a capacity to meet challenges with humour. Laughter not only makes you feel good, but releases a cocktail of happy chemicals (serotonin, endorphins, natural killer cells) that boost your immune responses, which act as a natural antidote to many of the illness-causing effects of stress.

You can’t control everything in your work environment, but with the right education and preparation, you can control how you manage stress in the workplace. If you make a claim due to suffering a traumatic loss, Federated Insurance offers confidential counselling services available 24 hours a day through our Trauma Assistance service.