We all experience work-related stress from time to time, whether it stems from a demanding boss, challenging assignments, or pressures to meet tight deadlines. But while these situations are common, it is important for all employees to know that chronic job stress can negatively impact our mental and physical health. According to the APA Center for Organizational Excellence, 65 percent of American employees have cited work as a significant source of stress, and more than one-third of these workers also reported chronic stress due to their jobs.
If you feel that your work environment is negatively impacting you to the point that your health is suffering, the following tips may help you manage workplace stress and understand how state and federal employment laws can protect you from stressors caused by illegal employer behaviors.
Manage Workplace Stress: 6 Smart Strategies
Keep a Job Stress Journal
Managing work stress starts with tracking your stressors. For one to two weeks, jot down what makes you feel stressed out, and how you react to each stressor. Are there certain job tasks that make you feel panicked? Do co-workers make you feel anxious when you are around them? Is your supervisor too hard on you? Think about how you respond to each situation. Perhaps you ate a sugary snack, or took out your frustrations on a co-worker or your spouse when you returned home. Write down exactly how you feel, and describe the environment and circumstances during each stress episode. A job stress journal will allow you to see behavioral and stress patterns so that you can combat them in healthier ways later.
Move Your Body
Taking regular walking breaks during the workday can help you alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. When stress triggers occur, think about responding to them in a healthier way such as going for a brisk, five-minute walk around your office park. Better yet, grab a work friend and walk to the nearest coffee shop for a calming herbal tea or quick pick-me-up. Exercise, even when light or moderate, is an incredible stress-buster that can lift your mood, relax your body, and increase your energy levels. These positive effects from moving your body will keep you on top of your to-do list when you return to your desk.
Relax and Recharge
While work-life balance can be difficult to come by these days with digital devices always at our fingertips, be sure to create boundaries for yourself so you can rest up and relax. Most of those emails are not urgent and can wait until you get back to the office. To fully recharge your mind and body, switch off work mode when you get home. Not only will you feel more refreshed the next day, but you will be free to focus on yourself or your family. Of course, there are exceptions since tight deadlines can keep us up late on occasion, but if stressful deliverables are happening on a frequent basis, it is likely time to speak to your supervisor about the stressful workload you are facing.
Another great way to beat work stress is by leaning on supportive friends at work, and outside of the office. Fostering positive relationships and talking about your feelings can aid in stress relief and calm your anxiety. Just be sure that you return the favor and lend a helping hand or shoulder, too. If you do not already have a good friend at work, it is not too late to forge new co-worker friendships. The next time you take a break, invite a co-worker along, or engage with your team members in the breakroom over coffee or lunch. Simply socializing with new people can help you beat the workplace blues.
If you begin to feel severely negative effects of workplace stress, you must talk to your supervisor or HR department. Your employer should have some employee stress management resources available, including referrals to mental health professionals or counselors. Your supervisor may also offer suggestions to help you alleviate needless stress on the job, including making certain modifications to your job description.
Sue Your Employer for Harmful Workplace Stress
If your stress falls out of the ordinary realm of job-related stressors like a demanding boss, occasional long hours, or a heavy workload, you may be able to sue your employer for unlawful workplace stress. If you are stressed out from workplace harassment, discrimination or bullying due to a protected characteristic under California or federal law such as your age, race, disability, national origin, religion or gender, contact an experienced employment attorney who can help you file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Managing Stress in the Workplace: For Further Reading
- 12 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work via Forbes
- Coping with Stress: Workplace Tips via The Mayo Clinic
- Top 5 Workplace Stress Busting Tips via The American Institute of Stress
- Can You Sue Your Employer for Workplace Stress?
You deserve to work in an environment that is free from unnecessary stress. If you feel your California employer is violating your employee rights and stressing you out as a result, contact the passionate employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation.