Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming—and harmful to both physical and emotional health. Here are five ways to deal with career pressure.
Ways To Deal With Career Pressure
Find Ways to Stay Calm
Stress can often cause you to stop breathing for several seconds, even though you may not realize it. When you’re feeling stressed, practice deep breathing exercises. Deep, slow breathing floods your body with oxygen, slowing your heart rate, relaxing your muscles, and helping you to focus.
You might also want to practice yoga or meditation after work; both are effective methods of managing stress.
Frequent daily breaks and regular vacations are also important for reducing work stress. Even a long weekend can help you to de-stress after a tough week. When you do take a break or go on vacation, leave work at work. Taking a “working vacation” (or constantly checking your emails and messages while you’re gone) won’t give you the time that you need to rest and recharge.
Manage Your Time
If you’re struggling with a heavy workload or project deadlines, you can lower your stress levels and improve productivity by managing your time more effectively.
First, take our quiz How Good Is Your Time Management?to assess how well you’re currently managing your time, and to get suggestions for improvement.
Distractions in the office can be a major source of stress. These distractions can come from well-meaning colleagues, from constant phone calls or emails, or from general office noise. Minimize distractions by closing your office door for short periods of time, by turning off your phone, or by listening to music or white noise to drown out people’s conversations.
Sidestep the drama and stay positive
Refuse to engage in arguments or other disagreements with your colleagues. Keep busy to enable your thoughts to remain positive and focused. We all get sucked into drama periodically. But, if you are getting really wound up, stop and think what you feel the final resolution should be. Stop, breathe, take a step back, and the proceed with a clear mind.
Get help if you need it
Part of your job as an employee is to protect your employer. Notice if there is something out of line and get the help that you need immediately. Assessing the situation and taking care of issues right away demonstrates that you can think clearly under pressure.
Steer clear of too much caffeine
Coffee is a good stimulant, and while it can be a good thing for you in small amounts to deal with career pressure, too much of it can actually cause you undue stress. Limit your coffee intake and space them out throughout your work time. Chocolate is also a stimulant, so go easy on the chocolate snacks.
In today’s digital world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.
Take time to recharge
To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you’re not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your smartphone and focusing your attention on nonwork activities for a while.