How to Handle Pressure at Work: Managing Stress

How to Handle Pressure at Work

If you’ve worked at least a day in your life, you’ve surely experienced the various stresses that come with working. Whether you are working a corporate desk job, or a fast-paced service job, pressures are sure to arise in your day-to-day. In fact, the American Psychological Association cites that 75% of adults say that they have experienced at least a moderate level of stress within the past month. Further, the American Institute of Stress says that 80% of workers are stressed on the job.

Unfortunately, it’s quite likely that you are an individual who is susceptible to the stresses and pressures of work. Fortunately, there are concrete and effective ways through which you can manage your stress levels, and ultimately live a more peaceful, and relaxing life. You can manage your stress from work in a variety of ways.

1. Identify what stresses you out. 

This sounds quite obvious and easy. However, in a moment of pressure (and possibly panic), it’s difficult to think in a logical and organized manner. Taking a step back from your work to analyze what might be causing you stress can help you find stressors that you did not know existed (for example, maybe a ridiculously cluttered email inbox gives you stress). It’s possible that there is a trigger that you’re unaware of. Realizing what that irritant is, will be the first step to combating the issue. Once you’ve identified the stressor, you can devise an approach to deal with it effectively.

2. Make an effort to stay organized in your work. 

Just like the previous tip, this may seem like an obvious recommendation. However, many people, especially when under pressure, do not spend time organizing themselves. Instead, people may tend to jump straight into work, instead of creating a structured approach. While it’s easy to tackle a problem right away, it’s usually not the most effective move.

Having a system in place can de-clutter your thoughts. This will help you establish a clear roadmap of what you need to do, in order to achieve your goal. Some tactical changes you can implement are:

  • Setting aside time every single morning (or the night before a work day), to plan and prioritize your actions.
  • Breaking up a big project into smaller, more ‘digestible’ chunks of work, which are easier to build into your day-to-day.
  • Keeping your inbox clean of clutter, by sorting emails into key folders.

Having a feeling of control over the way you spend your time can definitely reduce pressures at work.

Avoiding Stress at Work

3. Take breaks!

It’s humanely impossible to focus on a task for absurd amounts of time. You might think you’re getting work done, but in reality the complete opposite might be true. In fact, psychology professionals explain that it’s necessary to take frequent breaks. Otherwise, our human brain gets bored and loses focus. Our mind is not built for prolonged focus, and doing so actually harms our performance, as explained by University of Illinois professor Alejandro Lleras.

Taking breaks every hour will increase your productivity, and potentially decrease pressure at work.

4. Meditate.

Numerous studies show the benefits of regularly practicing meditation, especially if you’re encountering stress and pressure at work. Meditation can reduce anxiety, pain and stress, as determined by researchers from John Hopkins University. The act of meditation can instill mindfulness into your regular thought process, which may help your reactionary stress from random events that come up in your daily life. While meditation has the potential to reduce your stress levels, they key is to consistently practice the correct form of meditation. An app that we regularly use is Headspace.


Meditate to Reduce Stress

 5. Get your blood flowing with some exercise.

Stress can increase the risk of certain cardiovascular factors. Being in-shape will reduce health problems that may arise due to your stress from work. Unfortunately, many people find that they are less active precisely when they are most stressed. It’s important to commit to a consistent work-out schedule, whether this entails regular weight-lifting sessions, morning runs, or yoga. While your daily life may be jam-packed with different priorities, adding a healthy physical lifestyle to the top of your priority list is sure to pay dividends in the long-run.

 6. Build healthy eating habits.

The wrong types of food will hinder your performance on the job, which can cause more pressure at work. Here are a few actionable changes you can make in your daily life, to improve your health and reduce stress:

  • Try to eat at regular intervals, and possibly even eat smaller portions, more frequently throughout the day. This will be especially helpful if you find that you are fatigued during the work day.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables! Certain types of foods have demonstrated the ability to have positive impacts psychologically. For example, Tamlin Conner, a psychology researcher, conducted research that connected increased intake of fruits and vegetables, with calmer and happier feelings.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake, or distribute your caffeine intake throughout the day through less-caffeinated drinks. While having a coffee to avoid the after-lunch-slump may be part of your routine, it might be hurting your ability to sleep at night.
  • Don’t overload on one food group: eat a balanced meal.

 7. Take a trip (short or long-term vacation).

A vacation, whether out of the city, or just a stay-cation, might be a perfect way to remove yourself from the stresses of work. Perhaps you’ve had a really challenging few months at work. Taking personal time off (PTO) on Friday and Monday will give you a 4-day trip that you can use to reboot. A vacation doesn’t need to be expensive: the only requirements are disconnecting from your regular routine in a way that’s relaxing.

Vacation to Avoid Stress

The Bottom Line

Stress and pressure from work is a naturally occurring phenomenon in our society. While it may feel impossible to change your mindset and behaviors to reduce stress, there are many methods that you can implement from this moment onward, to remove unnecessary stress from your life. The key is to consistently improve your habits every single day in a focused manner. Simply start today, by following these tips for a more peaceful life.

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