Stress Management Made Simple

Deadlines, heavy workloads and tough decision-making. To you, it’s all part of the job, and with it comes the stress. Stress isn’t all bad—in fact, a little stress can be good for you. It can help you work hard, react quickly and keep you motivated.

But when stress occurs too often or lasts too long, it can leave you with headaches, backaches, stomachaches and more. And over time, it can affect your outlook, attitude and your long-term health. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (www.cdc.gov/niosh/), stress-related disorders are fast becoming the most prevalent reason for worker disability. Job stress and related problems cost American companies an estimated $200 billion or more annually due to issues such as absenteeism, turnovers and accidents.

So what can you do to keep your stress level in check? Here’s a list of tips that can help you manage and reduce stress on the job. Try one, a few, or try them all, and eventually you’ll be able to develop your own plan of action to combat stress.

Manage Your Time More Effectively

Stress is often caused by feeling overloaded and fearing that you won’t get everything done. Relax, you’re only human. Set your priorities, and concentrate on the important tasks first. So some of your less important tasks may not get done in time. So what? Over time, you’ll be able to plan a schedule that’s more realistic, making sure you have plenty of time to finish what you need to do.

Set Daily, Weekly and/or Monthly Goals

Ever feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel, running fast but getting nowhere? Setting realistic goals will help you feel focused and in control. Goals provide a yardstick to measure your progress. For your larger goals, set milestones along the way so you can make sure you’re still on course and you can give yourself an occasional pat on the back.

Recognize Your Limitations

Sometimes it’s hard to say “no” to our co-workers and superiors. But giving a realistic expectation is often better for the company than committing yourself to a task that you either can’t live up to, or will break your back trying to accomplish. Learn how to say “no” when you feel you’re taking on too much.

Learn to Share the Load

Asking for assistance doesn’t mean you’re lazy or incompetent. In fact, it shows that you’re a concerned member of the team who wants to get the work done in the best possible way, and gives everyone a chance to work together as a team.

Avoid the Conflicts, Beware the Drama

Arguments and office politics are sure-fire stress inducers. Are they worth it? Hardly ever. Instead, look for win-win situations where everyone can feel good about the outcome. And a positive environment can make you feel better in the short and long run.

Take a Break

Sometimes the best way to approach a job is to walk away from it. If you’re feeling stressed in the middle of a job, take a quick break. Switch to another task, take a walk or do some stretches. When you come back to the job, you’ll feel refreshed and refocused.

Relax and Breathe Deeply

The simplest things can make a big difference. For example, breathing through your nose can really bring down your stress level. So go ahead, take a deep breath and unwind.

Depend on a Friend

Friends can help us relax, laugh and see things differently. When you feel the stress mounting up, talk to a friend about the things that are on your mind. They might be able to help you look at things in a new way.

Try a Different Point of View

When you get frustrated because someone has a different point of view, take a moment and step back. Try to see things from their perspective instead. Listen actively, open your mind, and see if there’s something new you might learn from the situation.

Accept What You Cannot Change

A certain degree of acceptance is a critical stress reducer for life in general. There are some things you simple can’t change. Learn to recognize them, accept them and move on.

Take Advantage of Available Resources

No matter where you work or who you work for, keep in mind that it’s in your company’s best interests to reduce on-the-job stress. Talk to your employer or supervisor—they may have stress-reducing plans to suggest for you, or you may be able to develop a plan together.


There are many levels and types of stress, but the important thing is to make sure it’s manageable. You may want to try different methods before you find one or more that works best for you. Above all, make sure you take care of yourself.