Top stress management techniques: Can you maintain mental wellness at work?

stress management techniques at workplace

"Stress management" broadly includes various strategies, techniques and therapies which will improve one's overall functioning. Is there one fit? A single solution to manage stress? Let's find out!

We have various options to relieve stress, but sometimes, finding the right technique for your personality and situation may seem overwhelming. Understanding the management options can help one choose the strategy that works best for them. The management strategies can be discussed in various contexts:

  • Immediate relief vs long-term strategies
  • Generalized approaches vs specific targeted approaches
  • Problem-focused vs emotionally-focused approaches
  • Interpersonal vs workplace stress

Strategies can be selected and tailored to the individual based on what works best for them.

Immediate stress relief strategies

These are helpful strategies which can be implemented immediately during a stressful situation to gain back control and deal with the stressor.

Breathing exercises

Deep breathing helps relieve physical tension and create a state of deep rest that can change how your body responds to stress. It sends more oxygen to your brain and calms the part of your nervous system that handles your ability to relax.

Visualization and guided imagery

It is a useful strategy for maintaining resilience towards stress during difficult times. It can quickly calm your body and simultaneously relax your mind. It can also be useful in disrupting patterns of rumination. Simply close your eyes for a minute and walk yourself through a peaceful scene. Think about all the sensory experiences you'd engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you're really there.

Reframing the stressful situation

Mental and emotional stress can be caused by pessimism and negative thought patterns. We intensify our experience of stressful situations by the way we look at them. Reframing is a way of changing the way you look at something, and thus changing how it is experienced. It promotes a greater sense of peace and control.

Progressive muscle relaxation

It is a technique where you tense and release all of your muscle groups, leaving your body to feel more relaxed afterwards. It helps release physical tension, which eases stress and anxiety.

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Long-term stress relief strategies

Immediate strategies, though helpful, might not be always effective. In the long term, certain strategies should become a part of our routine so as to condition the mind and body to efficiently deal with stress.

Exercise

Exercise of any kind releases endorphins, which are feel-good transmitters. It also provides an opportunity to refocus and will improve an individual’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. It helps reduce the negative effects of stress on the body including the cardiovascular system, digestive system and immune system. Releasing tension through physical activity on a regular basis helps you stay calm and focused.

Meditation

The term "meditation" is now widely used to refer to a large number of diverse techniques. These work at different levels such as senses, mind, intellect and emotions. Incorporating meditation as a part of the routine will help remove accumulated stresses, increase energy and positively affect one's overall health.

Balanced diet

When your blood sugar crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety. Emotional eating and reaching for high-fat, high-sugar foods can provide a temporary sense of relief that adds to your long-term stress.

Cut down on sugar - Sugar increases inflammation so it can exacerbate stress in the longer term. So eat healthy carbohydrates like whole fruits and veggies. Eat high-quality protein Protein is important in the stress response. So be sure to eat antibiotic-free, chicken, eggs, fish, and meat substitutes (if vegetarian). And be careful to avoid processed meat, which can increase inflammation. It is important to eat high-quality fats, avoiding trans fats (in margarine, hydrogenated oils, and many processed foods) and vegetable oils like soy and canola, which contribute to inflammation.

Leisure activities and hobbies

Making time for hobbies and activities is proven to be rejuvenating. It helps focus on solution-oriented thinking and in promoting overall mental health. It is important to ensure taking adequate time for hobbies and making them part of the routine, which helps reduce stress.

Gratitude

Gratitude reminds you of all of the resources and positive tools you have to cope with stress, which can be quite empowering.

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Problem-focused stress relief strategies

It includes specific problem-solving, time management, and obtaining instrumental social support. One has to execute around priorities and cut out things that add stress. Things that matter the most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least. Incomplete tasks take more mental space than completed tasks. When overwhelmed or facing a difficult situation, it is important to seek support.

Emotionally-focused strategies

Such strategies aim at reducing the negative emotions experienced in response to stress. It includes techniques such as:

Distraction

It helps cope with emotions that are strong and uncomfortable. It helps in redirecting thoughts away from distressing feelings back to the present. This may include counting things around, doodling and colouring, or playing mind games.

Emotional disclosure

It refers to a therapeutic expression of emotions. One writes about thoughts and feelings related to personally stressful or traumatic life experiences. It differs from normal communication in being personal, free-flowing and informal.

Mindfulness

It refers to the act of becoming more aware of your thoughts and emotions so that you can step back from them and not take them so literally. This improves the level of care and compassion for oneself and others and also offers the space to think differently about stress.

Positive self-talk

It is essential to learn to talk to yourself in a more realistic and compassionate manner. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and catastrophic predictions aren't helpful in creating a balanced mental state.

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Managing stress in the workplace

Communication

Communication is an integral part of a healthy work environment. Potentially stressful situations can be de-escalated by expressing frustration or disappointment gently. Conversations regarding responsibilities and expectations would give clarity and minimize conflict. Take a moment to calm down. You can decide whether to continue the conversation or delay it until things are more relaxed.

Studies have shown that empathetic listening skills and better communication with each other demonstrated fewer resignations and leave instances.

Boundaries

Negotiating boundaries, and learning to negotiate what we are and are not willing to do is essential to maintaining a low-stress workplace. Both parties need to express their needs and wants assertively. Assertiveness expresses emotions and opinions firmly, but without accusations or bullying.

Control

Be realistic about what you can control and disregard the things that you can’t control. Focus on the elements of the situation that you can do something about. You are only responsible for your actions, not for what others think or do.

Creating space

Take short breaks during work time, identify and create space where you can be alone and dedicate time to yourself.

Social interactions and support

Positive connections with others at work can help buffer the negative effects of a stressful workplace. Coping with individuals or interpersonal awareness procedures has shown reduced anxiety, depression and exhaustion.

Policies

Training sessions in problem-solving, decision making, support, feedback and communication. Including in-house counselling programs and an efficient face-to-face communication system. Improving organizational culture, which includes encouraging openness and a cooperative culture rather than a culture of criticism and blame. Discussions about issues are to be considered as strengths rather than weaknesses.

Conclusion

Stress now is accepted as something inevitable, but managing it efficiently is required for overall health and well-being. The various strategies for addressing stress involve either avoiding, altering, accepting or adapting to the stress. Based on one's personality, likes, and context, one can choose strategies which will work best for dealing with stress.

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