Stress is a universal human experience. It affects people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, or background. Many people seek therapy at SamaraCare with the hope of managing the stress in their lives. Our clients report the workplace as a common source of stress. One might think it’s the work itself and deadlines that are the dominant causes of stress but it’s usually not that simple. Actually, performing the work is often not the major stressor.
It’s often forgotten that a work environment consists of many relationships, accompanied by different personalities, temperaments, priorities, and communication styles. Establishing productive relationships with co-workers, managing expectations, flexibility, setting boundaries and being able to accept constructive feedback are all required in the workplace. These qualities can be initially stressful and challenging to achieve. Many of us struggle with personalities different from our own. This becomes even more difficult when different levels of authority are at play. It’s helpful to remember that our self-worth, sense of identity and self-confidence are all impacted in the workplace. However, we have something to say about how much.
Counseling can provide strategies to help reduce stress. The first step is usually sharing with the therapist what’s going on and describing how you feel about it. Having a non-judgmental safe space to air one’s thoughts and emotions provides some relief. The therapist helps a client better understand their own feelings, some of the reasons for these feelings, and thus more fully appreciate their value. Over time, this helps the client see their own concerns and others concerns through a different lens. With a new or modified perspective, clients can see possibly more constructive ways of responding; and are empowered to react differently, make different decisions, and enjoy improved professional (and personal) relationships.
Here are some strategies clients explore in counseling when working towards managing stress in the workplace:
- Remember there’s more than one way to achieve the same goal and don’t take it personally if your way isn’t chosen. It doesn’t mean your idea wasn’t a good one.
- It’s unlikely the circumstances at work will change substantially, but how you respond to them can dramatically change.
- When your stress level feels high, take just a moment to shut your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Identify reactions to stress that were learned from your family of origin that you’d like to change.
- Believe that co-workers have good intentions and are doing their best even if you could do it better. Demonstrate patience.
- You’re not perfect and no one expects you to be. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake.
- People are flawed and sometimes those flaws will unavoidably and unintentionally impact you.
- Remember, your self-worth comes from many different areas of your life, not just work.
- Try to see things from your co-worker’s perspective.
- Recognize the things that are beyond your control and name that as such. Then, make an effort to turn your attention to where you have a good chance of making a difference (or having a positive impact).
- Some co-workers will always be challenging to work with, identify when you’re getting frustrated and learn to share your differences thoughtfully, kindly and with tolerance.
- Finding common ground through collaboration can yield great success from what initially feels like very different points of view.
- Take care of your physical well-being with adequate sleep, regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- Create a work-life balance with time set aside for connecting with friends and family.
- Ask clarifying questions before expressing an opinion to confirm you understand a situation, assignment and/or the goal(s).
- Learn techniques that can help you assess a conflictual/stressful situation, take a step back and gain some perspective before responding.
Like most change, decreasing stress takes time and isn’t a linear process. New coping strategies need to be learned and practiced. Decreasing stress is possible with help from an experienced professional counselor.