Simple Tips for Dealing with Work Stress

By: Jeff Duke, MSW, RSW; Counsellor and Psychotherapist

My father celebrated his first year of retirement in October of this year. In many ways he was lucky in his career: hired into a job for life right out of college, having the opportunity to take on different positions in the company, and receiving several promotions along the way. Despite having his share of bumps in the road including plenty of on-the-job stress, it would be fair to say that his experience is not typical of what many people face today.

The promise of a job for life has gone the way of the Dodo and more and more people find themselves going from contract to contract hoping to get permanent work. Those who have full-time permanent employment tend to feel less secure in their positions with downsizing and layoffs being potential threats. Now on top of that let’s add such factors as technological advances that ensure many of us are never away from the office (i.e. “the CrackBerry”), ever increasing workloads, and office politics, and it’s not surprising that job related stress is on the rise.

So the question becomes what can you do to manage work stress? It’s important to note that we need a certain amount of stress to motivate us to complete our job tasks. Stress only becomes a problem when our thoughts and feelings begin to overwhelm us and affect our ability to productively function on the job (or in our lives). Once you begin to feel sufficiently stressed out that your productivity is affected the following tips may be of use to you:

  1. Take 5 Minutes to Clear Your Head: Leave your work station once you become overwhelmed (or as soon as possible afterwards) and go for a short walk to clear your mind.
  2. Take Deep Breaths: Deep breaths (especially the abdominal breathing technique) can trigger a natural relaxation process in our bodies that calms anxious feelings and sensations, and slows down rapid, overwhelming, stressful thoughts.
  3. Don’t Fight the Stressful Thoughts: Fighting or repressing stressful thoughts usually tends to create more stress. Instead try to let what you are thinking into your full awareness. Often stressful or anxious thoughts enter our heads very rapidly so that we do not become fully aware of their content, and yet they tend to build in intensity until we are overwhelmed. By bringing your full attention to each thought as it comes to your mind you can slow the thinking process down, reducing their intensity which can allow for more constructive ideas for handling your concerns to come into your head.
  4. Follow the preventive advice of Healthcare Practitioners: The preventive advice provided to you by physicians, naturopaths, chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists, TCM practitioners, nutritionists, and exercise therapists, to maintain good health also help prevent stress.

Should you find that you continue to experience job stress that significantly affects your productivity or quality of life, that may indicate that you could benefit from seeing a counsellor versed in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness practices, and/or relaxation techniques.

For more information on Stress Management, contact Jeff Duke, MSW, RSW, for a complimentary 15 minute consultation.  Call 416-792-4400 today to schedule your consultation or appointment!