Self Regulation

How you can manage stress at work

Business woman engaging in stress management: relaxing, meditating, finding concentration

In this guide, we will provide you effective strategies and tools to mitigate stress in the workplace. – Regain control about your role and environment and position your body and mind to deal with stressors effectively.

How to manage and reduce stress

The modern work environment is known to cause stress by high workloads and tight deadlines combined with uncertainty and change. At the same time lack of physical exercise, lack of positive interpersonal contact and time pressures makes it difficult to deal with this stress.

Stress management strategies include techniques to deal with external and internal stressors. At work this includes organising what needs to be done in a less stressful way. In addition there are techniques to deal with how you cope with stress internally and to ensure your body can deal with stress.

Stress in the Environment

Deal with external stressors

  • Organising the work at hand
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Realistic planning
  • Time management and organisation

Internal Stress (mental / emotional)

Deal emotions and internal stressors

  • Identify the source of stress
  • Deal with emotions, thoughts and feelings
  • Seek support by connecting with others
  • Take good care of yourself

Internal stress (physiological)

Take good care of your body

  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough and good sleep
  • Eat good food
  • Avoid recreational drugs
  • Practice relaxation techniques

Managing external stressors – Organising the work at hand

Managing stress externally involves making sure that sources of stress in the environment are eliminated in a timely matter:

  • Identifying and eliminating conflicts
    • Conflicts are a key source of stress and should be addressed and solved as much as possible. Solving conflicts can create additional trust, shared vision and goals and improved cooperation.
    • External conflicts comprise topics like specific conflict with another person, reporting to disagreeing superiors or goal conflicts (e.g. maximize sales volume or maximize margin?)
    • Internal conflicts comprise conflicting personal priorities (e.g. spend time at work or time with my children)
  • Clarifying roles & responsibilities and specific tasks
    • A lot stress emerges because it is not clear what is being expected of a person. The role may be only loosely defined, no on the job guidance is available and the individual is reporting to different parts of the organisation as part of a complex matrix structure. In such case it will be important to clarify roles and responsibilities.
    • In projects the project structure, timeline and deliverables will need to be agreed and planned.
    • Roles and responsibilities includes the ability to refuse taking on work, passing it on to the responsible person and delegation.
  • Realistic planning and goal setting (external / internal)
    • Often we face unrealistic deadlines, overambitious goals and competition in achieving them.
    • Internally perfectionism in pursuing goals adds to stress
    • Therefore it is important to be realistic in what can be achieved.
  • Priorisation of tasks
    • If roles and responsibilities are clear, the individual will still need to differentiate important from less important (or nice to have or completely redundant) and the urgent from items which can be scheduled Eisenhower Matrix can be employed.
    • The actual work should be organized in to-do-lists (daily, weekly, project related etc. )
  • Time management techniques
    • Scheduling and blocking time for the actual work.
    • To-Do-Lists

Managing the stress internally

Managing stress externally involves making sure that sources of stress in the environment are eliminated in a timely matter:

  • Identify the source of stress
    • The first step in managing stress is identifying the source of stress in your life.
    • If the stress is in the environment move to dealing with it (see above: Managing external stressors).
  • Deal with your emotions, thoughts and feelings
    • Be mindful of your own emotions. Make sure that you are the loving person to yourself and support any anger, sadness, guild, shame etc. you may have. Move towards your emotions and take good care of them.
  • Seek support by connecting with others
    • Not all negative emotions can be easily dealt with all by oneself. We need the supportive other person to regulate ourselves, provide a different perspective or take us in the arm. Connecting with others can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Make time for friends and family and find a peer group which understands your needs.
  • Prioritize self-care
    • Taking care of yourself is important for managing stress.
    • Make time for activities you enjoy, such as playing sports, reading, listening to music, or spending time outdoors.

Managing the stress by taking care of yourself and your body

  • Exercise regularly
    • Exercise is a great way to manage stress, it burns stored stress and anger energy. While it boosts cortisol in the short term, it also reduces cortisol during the night and thereby improves sleep.
    • Regular exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost your overall health and well-being.
  • Get enough and good sleep
    • Being well rested allows us to deal with stress effectively during the day and be active in solving actual problems.
    • Lack of sleep drains our resources and reduces vital down-time for the body.
    • Getting enough sleep is important for managing stress. Lack of sleep can increase stress levels and make it more difficult to cope with stress.
  • Eat good food and supplements if needed
    • Make sure you eat a varied diet which gives you the nutrients you needs
    • In stressful situations you may need to add supplements such as magnesium to acccount for additional needs for nutrients
  • Avoid recreational drugs
    • Avoid recreational drugs such as alcohol, nicotine. All of which may be sources of additional stress to the body.
  • Practice relaxation techniques
    • There are several relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization, that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.