We all know the feeling of stress at work now and then. I absolutely love my job, but I’m no stranger to the pressure you can feel when there’s deadlines looming and just not quite enough hours in the day to check every last email…
That being said, I’ve found it’s really important to have some good habits in place to make sure that the stress is manageable. It’s a normal healthy reaction to feel busy when there’s lots going on in your day. However, feeling stressed a lot of the time may be a red flag which tells us that we need to make a change, otherwise our mental health and wellbeing will take a knock.
I’ll offer you a little advice from my own experience. I’m no expert, but in 5 years of work I’ve found a few things have really helped me personally.
Number one is communication with colleagues. It can feel really easy, when our jobs cause us stress, to say nothing about it. I’ve definitely done this myself many a time! In the past, when my workload was too big to stay on top of, I would more often bury my head in the sand and stay quiet, hoping it’d sort itself out if I just kept working.
The error I made was not using my fantastic teammates to my full advantage. There’s nothing wrong in asking your workmates for a bit of help when you can’t do it all alone. After all, they’re there to help you just like you’re there to help them. Keep in touch with your manager about how your workload’s going so they can make sure it’s manageable and others can jump in and support you.
I also recommend being kind to yourself. if you’re anything like me you’ll sometimes get the internal voice commenting on how well you’re doing. During the pressure points in your work day, this inner voice can turn you into your own worst enemy. When you’re stressed and telling yourself you’ve not been productive enough, or you made too many mistakes, you will believe it’s true and feel worse and enjoy work less.
It’s very common to beat ourselves up over what we didn’t do or say. Just the other week, I found myself in that situation – worrying that I wasn’t doing enough to help my project stay on target. What I realised stepping back from the situation was that I was putting too much pressure on myself, and this wasn’t going to help. Instead of believing the voice of self-doubt, I made an effort to be realistic with myself about the situation. I’d been working hard for these targets, which is all you can ever do.
If you try your best and learn from your mistakes, the rest is usually beyond your control, so there’s no point criticising yourself. It’s helpful to stop and question yourself: am I really being fair on myself, or actually is it going better than I think?
My third and final piece of advice is not to overthink or worry about work too much. We spend a huge amount of time there so it ends up becoming a big focus in our lives. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking it’s the only important thing we have going on. There’s so much more to life that matters.
Our relationships, personal hobbies and interests, health and happiness are all far more important than our jobs – again I say that as someone who loves his job!
Make sure your life is full of the things that bring you most joy, and prioritise these things every day, never letting stress at work impact on them. Every day, when you finish, switch off from work completely and do at least one nice thing just for yourself. Likewise, if work is all getting a bit much, make sure you can take a break in your day to unwind. Some of the things that help me are walking or cuddling my dog, cooking a delicious meal or going for a run. There are thousands more examples from sports to reading – whatever floats your boat!
Overall I hope these tips are useful to you. If you’re feeling stressed or in any way unhappy at work, do speak to your manager for any help and support you need. I wish you happiness and success in your career, whatever it may be.
Joe is one of the programme managers on Action Towards Inclusion. His role involves managing the performance of the programme to meet its targets. He most of all loves helping to motivate, challenge and support the programme partners so they can do their incredible work with their participants.Learn more about Joe