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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Johnson

Strategies for Managing Stress in the Workplace

Updated: Apr 4

Stress management is not only for stress awareness month.





Stress is like juggling. You start with one or two balls in the air; you add a third. A fourth. A fifth. Unless you’re a professional juggler, you quickly become overwhelmed, fighting to keep all balls in the air.


Replace the balls with responsibilities—an important work deadline, school pick-up, that side hustle you’re working on, team meetings, unrealistic work expectations—and that’s the life of the average person—busy, stressful.


We take on too many responsibilities, whether you can’t help it because of work or you think you can handle it at the time, later causing excess stress. Often, this causes a rebound effect in our daily lives (a lack of sleep, a loss of appetite, burnout, etc.).


We won’t sugarcoat it and say that life isn’t a juggling act. That’s exactly what life is. Heck, some mornings, I don’t get to meditate or can’t get on my Peloton because my toddler decides he wants to throw a shoe at me. On those days, I take what I can, whether a few deep breaths or a short walk outside to relieve stress.


But when you’ve got too many balls in the air and insufficient help, you’re on a one-way road to burnout city. And that’s the last place you want to be!


Key takeaways:

  • Find out why you’re stressed (and tackle it at the root)

  • Implement healthy habits to reduce stress

  • Employers must lead by example 

  • Reassess your management style and employee workloads

How do you manage stress effectively in the workplace?

There are a few ways to manage stress at work. You have short-term strategies such as taking regular breaks and getting outside for a short walk. Maybe even meditating or reading a book at lunch.


But no amount of deep breaths and positive talk will stop you from feeling overly stressed and overwhelmed if you don’t get to the root of the problem. At work, common causes of stress include:


  • Too high expectations 

  • An increased workload

  • Excessive deadlines 

  • Pressure from upper management


Some of these are in your control, and others not so much. Therefore, this article highlights what employees can do to reduce stress and improve productivity and what employers can do to make their workplace less stressful and a happier place to work.


How to deal with stress at work?

To cope with stress at work, you might find it helpful to:


  • Understand why you are stressed (and get to the root of the problem)

  • Practice mindfulness 

  • Take regular breaks

  • Ask for help when you need it

  • Exercise regularly 


Most importantly, you may find it very beneficial to understand why you are stressed. You might think this sounds too simplistic, but if you’re stressed because you frequently have too much work to do, then no amount of regular breaks or physical activity will help. Instead, you need to get to the root of the problem—if you don’t pull the weeds out at the root, they’ll continue to come back. 


If you’re feeling stressed often, talk to your supervisor or boss. Let them know you have too much work and that it’s causing you stress. 


How can employers reduce stress in the workplace?


According to the State of the Global Workplace: 2023 report, employees' daily stress is at an all-time high. 44% of workers said they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. 


Increased stress causes absenteeism, fatigue at work, a lack of concentration, and burnout. Removing stress and burnout from a workplace is like trying to remove dry rot—you think you fixed the problem, but it keeps returning.


So, what can you do to reduce stress in the workplace?


  • Reassess your management style 

  • Lead by example and promote healthy working habits

  • Review workloads often 

  • Focus on supporting mental health

  • Improve communication and get to know your team better


As a mom to a toddler and the founder of FitPros, I have a pretty busy and stressful schedule. I outsource tasks that I don’t like doing/don’t have the time to do to reduce stress, knowing I have one less thing to worry about, which is freeing. If you’re an employer, think of ways you can do the same for your employees. We’re all human and need help!


Reassess your management style

Poor management could be causing excess stress for your employees.


Heavy workloads, unrealistic deadlines, and too high expectations can all play a role in increasing stress. Mix them all together and stir the pot a little, and you’re presented with a handful of burned-out employees who are unhappy at work and unable to focus.


Put your management style under a magnifying glass and be very honest—if you’re doing any of the above, you might be the reason your employees are stressed. If so, it’s time to reassess!


Lead by example and promote healthy working habits 

If you’re the boss or part of upper management, leaving work late every day or eating lunch at your desk so frantically that you almost choke on a piece of lettuce, you’re not promoting healthy working habits.


You might enjoy working through lunch. But by doing so, you’re encouraging others to do the same. They might feel guilty about taking a lunch break or regular breaks.


Lead by example—take a lunch break, take short breaks throughout the day, and leave work at a decent hour. Oh, and don’t send emails on the weekends or after work hours.

 

Review workloads often

You can implement all of the stress management coping techniques you can think of, but if an employee has too high of a workload, then no amount of meditation will help. 


Check-in on that person in HR who started sending your monthly newsletter, writing blog posts for your website, posting on social media, and balancing their regular job… there’s a good chance their workload is too much.


Review workloads often and ask employees what you can do to be helpful. Your employees are stressed and overwhelmed, but there’s a good chance they won’t speak up. It’s up to you to start the conversation and offer a branch of support!


Like I said earlier, I outsource a lot of tasks. If I didn’t, I’d have too much on my plate and I’d quickly become overwhelmed. Your employees are the exact same! So think of ways you can help—extend the olive branch.


Focus on supporting mental health 

In 2021, an estimated 14.5 million U.S. adults aged 18 or over experienced at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment in the last year. You need to support mental health in the workplace.


To support mental health at work:


  • Upskill managers and company leaders

  • Offer flexible scheduling

  • Focus more on outcomes vs. hours worked

  • Provide a subscription to a mental health app

  • Educate your employees on mental health

  • Lead by example (start the conversation)


To provide mental health support, you don’t need to be a trained psychiatrist. You can upskill managers and company leaders to recognize signs of poor mental health (and what to do about it), and you can promote various coping strategies and healthy habits, such as regular physical activity and mindfulness, to promote positive mental health at work.


For more on how to support mental health at work, read our blog How to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers.


Improve communication and get to know your team better 

The best teams are good communicators—they feel comfortable talking to each other and know when to ask for help. By improving teamwork and communication, you can better help your team manage stress.


Throw some tomahawks (preferably not at each other), work together to solve a murder mystery, or take a pottery class and see what makes your employees tick. How well do they cope with stress? 


Team building activities are an excellent way to improve familiarity in a team. It’s the gateway to improved communication. 


To conclude 

A lot of us are guilty of wearing stress and burnout as a badge of honor. At times, it’s almost a competition to see who’s the most exhausted. But this is the wrong approach!


Stress awareness month is the perfect time to analyze why you’re stressed and get to the root of the problem. Pull the weeds!



Join FitPros live 

At FitPros, we provide workplace wellbeing solutions and activities to help support your employees' health and happiness. We’re trusted by world-leading companies such as Forbes, Grammarly, Tik Tok, and Discord.


We implement Blue Zone habits into our programs, including daily movement with our fitness classes and yoga sessions, build meaningful relationships with our team building activities, and educate your employees on how to improve their health and happiness with our health talks.


Join our workplace wellness subscription, FitPros Live, for daily content every day. Employees can drop in whenever and you can track employee attendance and engagement to see the real-time effect of our wellness solutions.


Want to learn more? Book a demo today

Author: Lindsay Johnson, CEO and Founder of FitPros




 

FitPros is a turn-key wellness provider empowering people to take charge of their personal health.



Contact FitPros to diversify your company’s wellbeing offerings and help employees meet their health & fitness goals.


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