Swamped with high-prio tasks? Got yelled at because of that one typo error in your presentation? Had to stay beyond your shift for hours to finish all of your backlog?
We get it. Work days can be mentally taxing.
We all have our own ways of dealing with stress at work. Some do yoga or go for a walk during lunchtime; others go on yosi breaks or walk to the nearest convenience store and munch their stress away.
Whether we admit it or not, sometimes, we cope with stress in an unhealthy manner that we end up filing sick leaves more often than we used to. That’s not to mention that stress, alone, can cause physical symptoms like headaches and high blood pressure. It can also worsen depression and anxiety problems.
I, for one, have to get better at handling stress at work.
I tend to eat a lot whenever I’m stressed and tired (don’t be surprised about my weight gain!). And I once had to go to the ER due to a panic attack caused by that deadly combination of poor time management and heaps of deadlines on multiple projects.
Since that panic attack, I’ve been doing my best to improve how I manage workplace stress. Now l share with you some of the de-stressing techniques that have worked for me so far. Plus, I asked other Modern Filipinas to give their not-so-self-destructive tricks of battling stress in the office.
Here are some of them:
1. Ditch Multi-Tasking
You might think you maximize your time by juggling tasks at once, but the truth is, you don’t. You just end up with mediocre results, forcing you to do some of your tasks all over again (hint: OT) to deliver excellent work. Instead of multi-tasking, try chunking.
Chunking is the concept of breaking up your office day into large chunks of specific tasks. Say, you have to talk to clients, write some reports, and make sales presentations in a day. In the morning, focus only on doing client calls. Don’t write your reports or pull up Google Slides on your laptop yet.
If you get overwhelmed with client calls, try alternating these tasks with writing a few reports. But never do these two tasks at once. Be wise on spending your energy and brain power on every chunk of your shift.
2. Don’t Forget That No One’s Perfect
There’s a fine line between being a high achiever and perfectionist. Doing excellent work benefits you and your organization; striving to be perfect all the time can drive you (and your officemates) nuts.
As a writer who has to submit a number of articles in a day, I need to keep perfectionism in check. If I don’t, I can cause delays in editing and publishing, which is totally counter-productive.
If you have a busy, fast-paced job, accept the fact that you may not do everything perfectly. Just do your best to complete every task excellently within the allotted time.
3. Take Short Breaks
Even with de-stressing techniques, there are times you can’t avoid feeling stressed out. If ever things get too intense at your desk, don’t hesitate to stand up and take a short break. Jeanne España, an event organizer, catches up on some reading during breaks to feel relaxed and get back to her tasks with a refreshed mind. HR Professional Inah Malaluan, on the other hand, watches music videos of her favorite artists on her smartphone to keep her mind away from a lot of tasks for a while.
“I walk around the office, have a cup of coffee, and put my hair into a bun.” Pat Dacanay, a financial advisor, also shares her preparing-to-take-on-more-tasks routine during her short breaks at work.
4. Pick Your Battles
Sometimes, workplace stress isn’t caused by the workload but by your co-workers.
While conflict among employees is difficult to escape, it’s still a good idea to be mindful of steering clear of workplace issues that can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. That means don’t gossip. Don’t get in too deep in the office drama. And stay away from toxic people at work.
If conflict finds you anyway, pick your battles. Sometimes, it’s better to be a bigger person who walks away rather than engage in a clash (you can always go to the HR office if a colleague still bothers you even if you explicitly show you don’t want to engage them).
5. Celebrate Little Wins
You’re probably familiar with this thing I call “the chase” — catching up on one deadline after another. It can be too stressful to think that you’ll never win the race, that every day will be an endless chase. Instead of focusing on that, I choose to keep my eyes on my long-term goal in life and celebrate little victories that I get every day at my job. That’s enough to keep me stay motivated.
May Elona, a web content editor, shares the same sentiments. She says, “Look forward to something. Set a happiness goal every day — something that will be your reward for finishing your tasks. Some said Netflix, reading, running, or cooking. Whatever it is, it should make you happy.”
6. Give Your Mind a Break
With little victories or not, rest your mind after a long day at work with an activity you enjoy. (Side note: Even if you enjoy your job, never take it home with you. Boundaries are necessary for a balanced life.)
Take it from Ina Azarcon-Bolivar, who’s an actress and dramaturg. She gives her mind a break by belting out songs in videoke venues with friends or going for a jog after a day in the theater. Similarly, Director Issa Manalo Lopez plays mobile games and watches Netflix series to cope with the stress of a day full of rehearsals or shoots. Marketing specialist Anika Real, on the other hand, caps off her day with a feel-good movie online, sleeping with a calm, relaxed mind.
Wherever you work, stress will always be there. It’s just a matter of learning to deal with it appropriately every day, so you can keep a healthy mind and body and stay motivated to reach your career goals.
How do you deal with workplace stress? Share it on the comment section below or on our Facebook page.
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She's a web content writer, a playwright, and the author of the children's novel, Detective Boys of Masangkay: Ang Mangkukulam.