6 Tips To Help You Manage Work Stress

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How To Free Yourself From Work Stress

BY NICK LIM-HOWE

Switching off from work is a skill nearly everyone struggles with. We strive for a healthy work-life balance, but even after we’ve left the office for the day our heads are busy with thoughts about work, outstanding tasks, deadlines, meetings, conversations we’ve had, conversations we’re dreading. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve had a good day or a bad day – there’s always something to think about.

It’s easy to get caught up in work thoughts. We all do it. But is it a habit we need to drop?

If your head still stuck at work even after you've left for the day?

If your head still stuck at work even after you’ve left?

It might feel like checking work emails or forward planning for the next day will make you more efficient and help you cope at work, but does it? Or does it just keep you stuck in ‘work mode’ so that even when you’re home, your head’s still at work and you never get to enjoy your down time.

Trying to manage work stress by using ‘life’ hours to keep on top of work tasks is a losing battle. There will always be work left over at the end of the day.

So what’s the answer? Acceptance. Accept that there will always be work tasks that need your attention and learn to switch off despite this.

If your work/life boundaries have always been blurred, switching off will initially feel unconformable and maybe even a little distressing, but stick with it – the feeling will pass. Learn to switch off and you’ll be happier for it. Don’t believe me? Try it and see.

Here are some strategies to get you started.

Tip #1: Switch Off…Literally

With modern technology we find ourselves more connected to work than ever. If your job doesn’t require you to be in contact around the clock then try to disconnect. Put the iPad down, shut down your laptop and put your blackberry back in its case.

Tip #2: Ritualise

We accept the ritual of getting ready and dressing-up for work but find it more difficult to do the same when we get home. Create a ritual when you get home. Whether it’s taking a shower, going for a run, talking to your kids or just getting into your favourite pair of trackies. A ritual can be your buffer between work and home and put you in the right mindset.

Tip #3: Prioritise & Time Manage

Set realistic goals at work and allocate sufficient time to achieve these. Set too many goals and you’ll feel unnecessarily stressed, which can spill over into your personal life.

Tip #4: Seek Support

If you feel that you are beginning to or are already struggling at work tell someone. Find support within your team, share the workload evenly and delegate tasks where possible. Building a positive and supportive work environment should be everybody’s responsibility.

Tip #5: Planned Excitement

Set up regular exciting plans both big and small so that you have something to look forward to outside your working life. This could be a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant, family night at the movies, camping or planning an overseas trip at the end of the year. Working hard also means playing hard.

Tip #6: Get Inspired

When our work inspires us, it can seem less like a chore and becomes something that we enjoy. Find work that suits and stimulates you. The more you enjoy your work, the easier it will be to switch off at the end of the day.

Having greater control over our ability to switch OFF after work and ON in life is important when trying to live happier and fulfilling lives. After all we work to live not live to work.

Nick is a dedicated and empathic clinical psychologist who enjoys working collaboratively with kids, teens, adults, families, and couples. He is trained in a variety of evidence-based therapies including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Motivational Interviewing, Schema Therapy and Positive Coaching, and enjoys helping clients to achieve their goals and find a newfound quality and empowerment in their everyday lives.


 

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