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5 Tips for Managing Stress in a Demanding Work Environment

The latest surveys reveal that work is the most significant source of stress for Canadians. It’s the main reason cited by one in five individuals who quit their jobs during the pandemic.

Nothing good ever comes out of a highly stressful work environment. It only triggers a cascade of consequences that negatively impacts both employees and employers. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized burnout resulting from chronic workplace stress as an occupational phenomenon affecting countless employees worldwide. Manifestations of burnout include energy depletion and exhaustion, feelings of indifference, negativism, or cynicism about your job, and reduced professional efficiency. These things do not only compromise mental health and well-being but also impede productivity.

Although quitting seems to be an easy way out, it’s a privilege that is not always feasible for everyone. Whether you decide to chase after your “dream job” or choose to stay at your current one, the best approach would be to adopt healthy ways to manage stress wherever you work. 

Let’s dive into five of the most effective stress management techniques that will be beneficial in helping you grow personally and professionally.

1. Identify Your Triggers

A stressed female employee working in front of her laptop.

There are several plausible causes of stress at work, which vary depending on the nature of your job and your personality, including:

  • Unfair or inadequate compensation
  • Working extensively long hours
  • Excessive and unmanageable workload and deadlines
  • Office politics or conflict among co-workers and bosses
  • Pent up frustration about unsatisfactory management practices
  • Negative organizational culture (discrimination, racism, etc.)

Learning about your specific triggers can give you a better perspective and understanding of the steps you can take for effectively managing stress at work. 

For instance, is it something that could be resolved by taking a vacation or developing a more streamlined workflow and better time management strategies? Or is it something more serious that requires a discussion with your manager or HR? Reflect and list down the things about your work that stress you out the most. 

2. Develop Positive Coping Strategies

Stress is one of the most common relapse triggers for addiction. When left unaddressed, the occasional consumption of alcohol or illicit substances to soothe yourself after an emotionally exhausting day in the office can potentially lead to a full-blown addiction

Hence, you must equip yourself with healthy coping strategies that can help ease the pressure and release the tension when the going gets tough at work. Here are some ideas on how to manage stress positively while you’re sober. 

  • Exercise regularly. It doesn’t matter if you decide to hit the gym, go for a walk, or do a quick set of jumping jacks. What matters is that you do short bursts of movement that get your heart rate up and the happy hormones, like serotonin and dopamine, pumping to improve your mood instantly. 
  • Get in the water. Have you ever wondered why hopping in a shower, soaking in the tub, or doing laps in a pool never fails to clear your mind and leave you feeling refreshed? Apparently, because exposure to stress can cause the muscles to contract, submerging the body in water, especially a warm bath, helps relax the muscles, thereby reducing anxiety and stress levels. 
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation. Being alone with your thoughts is something that many people find intimidating and daunting. Despite the skepticism about mindfulness and meditation, studies have shown that they have therapeutic benefits and have been proven effective in alleviating stress and anxiety. Whenever you’re feeling triggered at work, stay still and do slow breathing exercises. Don’t overthink it. Focus on your breathing for a minute or two. You can also check out mobile apps that offer guided meditation and other helpful tips to manage stress.

3. Set Clear Boundaries

When the pandemic broke out, many employees found themselves working from home. Despite its undeniable perks, such as not having to commute to the office, the work-from-home setup can also be a source of stress. For example, some people find it difficult to log off their computers even at the end of their shift due to the increased pressure of being available 24/7. 

Blurring the lines that define work and rest can cause chronic stress that may eventually lead to burnout. When it comes to methods of stress reduction, keep in mind that establishing personal boundaries plays a pivotal role in achieving a proper work-life balance. Because we’re living in the Digital Age, this has become easier said than done. However, you can take small steps that may make a difference in managing stress at work.

  • Do not answer work calls during dinner.
  • Go offline during your days off.
  • Acknowledge that you do not have to respond to every email immediately, especially if it was sent outside office hours. 
  • Setup automated responses when you’re out of the office or on vacation.

A female employee talking to her female boss about managing stress at work.

4. Talk to Your Boss or HR

Nothing will get resolved if you’re going to suppress your thoughts and keep them to yourself. Maintaining open communication with management is essential in having a happy and rewarding work environment. Don’t hesitate to reach out and open up to your manager or HR supervisor about specific concerns that are affecting your work or personal well-being. 

Most companies value their employees’ emotional health and well-being because they are associated with productivity, high morale, and retention rates. Hence, they are willing to go to great lengths to promote a positive workplace culture. They can offer flexible or alternative work arrangements and other relevant benefits to create a safe and inclusive environment for all employees.

5. Get Professional Mental Health Support

Managing stress at work can be exponentially more difficult for individuals who are also struggling with a mental health condition or recovering from addiction. Because they may be coming from an emotionally vulnerable place, it can be challenging to process and respond to certain situations effectively. 

Getting overwhelmed with stress is not particularly healthy for someone who has depression, anxiety disorders, or just got out of rehab. Nevertheless, you are not powerless against it. 

If you have trouble managing stress at work, don’t think twice about seeking help from a mental health professional. You can ask your company if they have stress management resources to cover your treatments or if they can refer you to experts. 

At Freedom From Addiction, we offer individual counselling and group therapy sessions that can teach you healthy ways on how to manage stress without sacrificing your sobriety. 

Read more about Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy here

As an Accreditation Canada Partner that serves the entire Greater Toronto Area, our team never fails to provide clients with a trusted, caring and non-judgemental environment, where people can find a fast road to recovery.

Contact us today for more information!

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