Stress Awareness Month: how to deal with stress in the workplace

picture of stressed businesswoman with computer at work

DEALING with stress in the workplace is a challenge that often comes with the territory of any high-pressure job.

And, for many, developing coping mechanisms for best dealing with this can be the most important skill in their career toolkit.

April marks Stress Awareness Month, and with this in mind a leading expert has shared her advice on how employees can best deal with anxiety in the workplace.

Lynn Crilly, the author of a series of books including Hope With Anxiety, A self-help guide for those affected and their families, friends and carers, said: “In the workplace people can subconsciously develop unhealthy coping mechanisms in the hope of alleviating some of the symptoms surrounding their anxiety, such as overuse of caffeine, eating high sugar foods and abuse of prescription medication, it is important to be mindful that these can often exacerbate the symptoms, so making the person feel more anxious rather than less.

“There are some helpful strategies that can be used to help you cope with your anxiety at work. Anxiety can be infectious and easily spiral out of control, try to distance yourself from those who intensify the anxiety as much as impossible.”

Sharing her advice Lynn says:

Make yourself a list – If you are feeling overwhelmed take the simple step of writing a list for yourself, this can help to make work tasks more manageable. It should also help you take back the feeling of control that anxiety can take away from you.

Try gentle stretching – When you feel anxious, you may become aware of stress or tension in your muscles. By doing simple stretching it can relieve the stress in your muscles, leading to a reduction in anxiety levels.

Drink more water – While staying hydrated may not get rid of the anxiety fully, it can, however, help reduce its intensity. Water has natural calming properties and can also help you feel centred and more able to concentrate.

Communicate with others – Do not be afraid to communicate with others about what is causing your anxiety in the workplace, sometimes just saying things out loud can help reduce the intense feelings that have been building up inside. For example, ‘I am worried I will not complete this project in time.’ – verbalising your concerns might be all that is needed.

Check in with your breathing – Our breathing is linked with our “fight or flight” responses in our body. When we get anxious it can trigger this response so making our breathing shallow and rapid to increase oxygen, making our bodies ready for action. Relaxed breathing (also known as the 4-7-8 breathing technique, involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds) helps by slowing down our breathing, rebalancing the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide, it can also prevent stress and anxiety building up in the first place.