A person’s work is a chief contributor to feelings of self-efficacy, self-fulfillment, and one’s overall sense of achievement and contribution. Because of the time and energy invested in doing that which provides financial compensation, without question, work is naturally the source of a significant amount of stress that people experience. Thus, mitigating and preventing workplace stress is necessary for maintaining one’s overall wellness and mental health. Here are 5 ways of decreasing workplaces stress and, in turn, increasing wellness and productivity.
Implement boundaries: Much of the stress that occurs in the workplace is related to the social mores, cliques, and relational styles among employees. Because we operate upon the foundation of relational interactions, setting boundaries and appropriate expectations with co-workers is a necessity. Relationships that originate as being collegial in nature often naturally deepen into friendships with less definitive boundaries. Although friendships with co-workers can be healthy and make for a more satisfying work day, enmeshment, blurred boundaries, and codependent relationships can certainly muddy the waters. These less professional relationships tend to lessen objectivity and decrease interpersonal effectiveness. So, ensuring that relationships are maintained on a professional level while at work will lead to better decision-making, problem-solving, and increased fairness in the workplace. In addition, knowing the role of your position within the company and sticking to those tasks, objectives, and overarching goals will ensure that you are operating within your skillset. Companies become less effective when people of various roles begin to try to do each other’s job, so operating within your area of expertise is vital in maintaining appropriate boundaries, reducing stress, and optimizing ethical implementation of your skills.
Exercise effective time management: The ever popular “open door policy,” while a seemingly positive means of interacting with employees, can also invite perpetual interruptions throughout the day. Relationships and team building are important, but equally important is ensuring that the output of productivity is up to (or above) par. Studies show that sitting down and planning out/blocking time at the beginning of the week will lead to more effective time management, greater overall self-satisfaction, and fewer feelings of stress. Flexibility is essential and, of course, interruptions in the schedule are undoubtedly going to occur. But a general schedule and timeline for completion of weekly activities will keep the focus on the end goal. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to close the door, silence your phone, and dedicate a block of time solely to working without interruptions.
Create a healthy company culture: When you walk into any business, the existing culture is palpable. From the moment you enter the doors, you experience a series of inputs that communicate the type of people and work that are present in the building. The type of furniture in the lobby, the greeting from the receptionist, and, ultimately, the attitude of the employees communicate the type of work that is happening in that environment. Working diligently to create a positive, healthy company culture that facilitates creativity, collaboration, and respect among employees is a key factor in reducing workplace stress. Cultural development is cultivated with the input of all employees, but no single employee can do this unilaterally. It is crucial that the people in leadership roles operationalize the culture of their company and intentionally create opportunities, team building interactions, and relationships where this culture can be both exercised and appreciated.
Disengage from negativity: It is natural to collude and complain about frustrating situations. However, complaining and negativity can become a habit and eventually part of company culture that will pollute productivity and increase stress. The natural inclination is to lean in to negative conversations. However, being deliberate about disengaging from negativity will serve you threefold. First, it will ensure that you are not part of any conversation that could affect the credibility of your work. Second, it will keep your thoughts from perseverating on the negative aspects of your job, which will, in turn, prevent you from feeling negatively about your company and coworkers. Finally, removing yourself from negative discussions will indirectly establish you as a trusted person who operates as a leader, as opposed to just another disgruntled employee who falls into the trap of complaining and denigrating others.
Take of Advantage of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Most people spend the majority of their waking hours doing the work for which they receive financial compensation. And, without a doubt, all work is inherently stressful at some point. Because of the amount of time the average person spends working in a lifetime, in addition to the number of opportunities for stressors to arise, focusing on wellness should be a priority for any type of employee or employer. Often, companies will foot the bill for employees to participate in therapy with a licensed clinician through Employee Assistance Programs. Unfortunately, all too often, these benefits are overlooked and underutilized. People pay thousands of dollars per year on therapy in the private sector, so taking advantage of sessions funded by the employer should be a no-brainer. And if EAPs aren’t provided by the company, some health insurance plans have behavioral health benefits that will cover portions of therapy sessions as well.
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