Future of Work — 9 November 2018

Managing stress at work: recognising the signs and staying in control

stress at work - how to manage stress

With International Stress Awareness Week coming to an end, we’ve teamed up with professors, occupational psychologists and other experts to bring you actionable advice to help mitigate the symptoms of stress at work. In part one of the two-part series, we brought you advice on reducing stress when working in teams. In part two, we will provide useful takeaways on recognising the signs of workplace stress and how to stay in control.

Learn how to put down your stress

“When you have too much on your mind at work, you get that familiar, awful feeling of being overwhelmed. You need to put down your stress to help combat that feeling. You only have so much brain power available. The more you take on, the less efficient and effective you will be because those resources are stretched too thin. To ‘put down’ your stress, ensure you use other spaces whenever you can, either physical or digital – make lists or notes, use calendars etc – so that your mind isn’t holding on to useless information and you can stay in control.”
Lynne Kennette, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Durham College, Canada

Know when to take a break

“The most important factor in dealing with stress is knowing yourself and recognising that no matter what you do or how well you do it, stress will never fully disappear. You must understand how your body reacts to stressors and know what to do to relax and escape. Know the task, accept the strain and take care of yourself. The time you allocate to personal growth and relaxation is an investment that will pay benefits to you in your role. If you need a break, take one. Ultimately it will help you deliver better work in the end.”
Thomas R. Hoerr, Ph.D., Scholar in Residence, University of Missouri, author of ‘The formative five: fostering grit, empathy, and other success skills every student needs

Break down your challenges

“If you’re feeling under pressure, the first thing you should do is go for a walk and get some fresh air. When you get back, break the big rocks (projects) into smaller pebbles and prioritise them. This will help you stay in flow, viewing challenges less as immovable objects and more as opportunities to express your creativity.”
Dr Richard MacKinnon, Occupational Psychologist and Managing Director, WorkLifePsych Ltd

Know what it takes to get the job done

“Stress is an indication that whatever we’re doing matters. Too little stress leads to lacklustre performance and too much can take a toll on our creativity and the creativity of those around us. You need to recognise in yourself what level of stress it takes to get the job done right. Once you do that, you should be able to work more easily and creatively with those around you because you feel more in control.”
Thomas R. Hoerr, Ph.D., Scholar in Residence, University of Missouri

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