Top 3 Stressors and How to Beat Them

Say "You're Fired" to Workplace Anxiety. Top 3 Stressors and How to Beat Them.

Stress hurts. Ulcers, headaches, tense muscles – not only are these ailments painful, they’re also costly. Stress accounts for hefty doctors’ bills from frequent illnesses along with many hours of lost productivity due to sick days.

When you feel overwhelmed, depressed or just plain fatigued, your productivity and job satisfaction go down. To overcome stress, it’s important to first diagnose its cause. Following the tips below will help you find the sources of on-the-job tension and eliminate them.
So much to do, so little time.
Work overload is a prime source of tension. Dozens of e-mails, memos and faxes inundate your in-box and threaten to bury you in piles of ‘to-dos.’ However, a recent survey by America Online and showed that the average American worker wastes up to two hours every eight-hour workday. Often workers waste time due to a lack of organization and self-discipline. You can lessen the burden of a heavy load by focusing on time management and organization skills. Imagine all you could accomplish with two extra hours a day!
Motivational speaker, David Kekich believes stress stems from disorganized work habits. “Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation and action,” Kekich said. How can you avoid this anxiety and get organized? In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, he offers tips for reducing stress and increasing personal productivity. Allen recommends breaking down large projects into smaller, more accomplishable tasks.
For example, don’t write on your to-do list: plan business trip to Denver. Instead, divide each project into smaller steps like: call travel agent to book flight and hotel; make dinner reservations for Friday; print directions to client’s office. Large assignments are intimidating because it’s difficult to know where to start. By listing out each action item for a large project, you’ll chip away at the daunting task until there’s nothing left of it.  
Another good way to get more done in a day is to turn off your phone’s ringer and close your e-mail program for a few hours. If you work with chatty co-workers, put on headphones for a while, and listen to music to drown out their conversations. By eliminating distractions, you’ll be able to accomplish your tasks more quickly and with less stress.
Catch more flies with honey.
Interpersonal conflict is another common cause of workplace stress. If you’re like most people, you probably spend more time at work, and consequently with your co-workers, than anywhere else. All this time can be great for forming meaningful relationships with colleagues, but it can also be a source of conflict.
There are as many different personalities and opinions in the workplace as there are employees. Because every person has a unique perspective, it’s common for workers to occasionally grate on each others’ nerves. To prevent workplace relationships from becoming a source of aggravation, keep these tips in mind.
  • Take a timeout. If you’re discussing an issue with a co-worker and you feel the conversation getting a little heated, it’s time to step away from the situation and let your emotions cool down.
  • Listen and acknowledge. Often, what causes miscommunication is a failure to truly listen to what the other person is saying. Even if you disagree with their point of view, it’s important to hear them out before interrupting.
  • Don’t take it personally. As the saying goes, you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Don’t get stressed out if you occasionally experience conflict with your co-workers. As long as disagreements don’t escalate to personal attacks or grudges, there’s probably nothing to worry about.
Kick back and relax.
Physical stress takes a toll on your mind and emotions. If you work in an environment that is physically uncomfortable or exhausting, chances are, your stress levels are elevated. Poor air-quality, cramped or awkward workspaces and loud noises make a workplace harder on your body.

If you feel your work environment is unhealthy or dangerous, contact your local branch of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Visit for more information on health and safety guidelines.

Even if your workplace meets health and safety standards, it can still be physically-taxing.  The tips below can help you relax your body during a tough day at work.
  • Stretch – When you’re stressed, your muscles tense up, and the result is often a crick in your neck or a knot in your shoulder. To keep your body loose, take two minutes every couple of hours to stretch. Neck and shoulder rolls, hamstring stretches and side twists are all great moves to help get your blood flowing again.
  • Laugh – It’s true what they say: laughter is the best medicine. A few chuckles can brighten the worst day, and a funny story can make you forget your worries for a while. When your body’s feeling tense, take a moment to joke around with a co-worker or read a comic strip that tickles your funny bone.
  • Breathe – Taking a few deep breaths can help you separate yourself from your worries. Try counting to ten while slowly inhaling and exhaling. You might be surprised how much this simple act can do to relax your body and mind.

While you can’t remove every stressor from your life, you can refuse to let anxiety control you. When you feel worry creeping up, identify its source, and take the necessary steps to overcome it. Developing a worry-free attitude will reward you with greater energy to accomplish your goals and enjoy your life. By following the tips above, you’ll be on the path to beating workplace anxiety and increasing your job satisfaction and productivity.