Stress isn’t always a bad thing; sometimes it’s beneficial. It helps you stay focused and enables you to face challenges in the workplace head-on. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during an important client meeting or alert to prevent work accidents and costly errors.
Unfortunately, today’s fast-paced work environments can be too taxing. Long hours, urgent deadlines, and mounting obligations can leave you feeling distressed, mentally drained, and physically exhausted. And when stress becomes too much to handle, it stops being helpful and becomes harmful to your mind and body, and even affects your sense of job contentment.
Whatever your job demands, there are simple steps you can take to manage psychological stress and improve your mental health.
1. Share your feelings
Acknowledging your emotions and talking about them can help you deal with stress in the workplace. Whether it’s about a dispute with a colleague or work pressures, expressing your feelings allows you to release pent-up tension and anxiety. It also helps you clear your mind and resolve issues (or at least compromise on manageable solutions).
Open up to someone you feel comfortable with. Whether they’re a colleague, superior, partner, friend, or family member, strong social support helps. Expressing your emotions isn’t a sign of weakness — it’s part of taking control of your health and improving your well-being.
2. Stay active
Exercising for 30 minutes at least five days a week can reduce the risk of stress and diseases, as well as keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. It can also improve your sleep quality, mood, energy, and self-esteem.
You don’t have to go to the gym or play sports to exercise. Going for a walk during your lunch break or dancing to your favorite music are simple and fun ways to stay active. Try exercising before work to help you get ready for the day, or after to help you ease into rest and relaxation.
3. Build healthy eating habits
What you eat can affect how you feel, which is why a good diet benefits both your physical and mental health. Ideally, you should eat regular, balanced meals and drink plenty of water. To help you accomplish this, plan for mealtimes at work; it’s well worth preparing home-cooked meals or choosing healthy options when buying food.
When you’re feeling down or stressed, avoid caffeine and refined sugar. These can weaken your body’s ability to respond to stress. Instead, nibble on fruits or vegetables and snacks like nuts or yogurt, which are healthier and provide easy-to-absorb nutrients.
4. Take breaks
A change of scenery or pace can lower stress and make you feel relaxed. Take a five-minute pause from a difficult task to get up and move around, or maybe drink some water. During your lunch break, don’t check your email or talk about work.
It’s also a good idea to plan your leaves for the year so you always have a break to look forward to. If you’re allowed mental health days — time off to look after your well-being — take them as well. And resist the temptation to check in with work when you’re on leave or it’s your day off.
Taking breaks can keep stress at bay and even help improve your performance.
5. Do something you enjoy
The best way to relieve stress is to have fun. Focusing on a hobby, like baking or playing board games, can help you take your mind off of work and uplift your mood. What’s more, the sense of accomplishment that you get from doing something you’re good at also boosts your self-esteem.
Having fun regularly allows you to feel less overwhelmed by the stressors you face. This can help you change your attitude toward work pressures so you’re more likely to manage stress well when you experience it.
What if you still find it difficult to address psychological stress?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work and personal troubles, Meridian Psychiatric Partners is here to help. Our clinicians can help you establish therapeutic approaches to help you cope with everyday stressors and build a more resilient and healthier you. Schedule an appointment with us today.