Stress Less

Stress less in the workplace

With the average employee clocking up 40 hours a week, what you do between the hours of 9am and 5pm can take a huge toll on your health, wellbeing and happiness. And let’s face it; a stressed-out, strung-out employee is less likely to be a productive one. Learning how to manage stress in the workplace is essential to living a healthy, happy and productive life – both personally and professionally. If you’re having trouble coping with workplace stressors, follow our simple stress-busting tips to arm you with the power to handle difficult situations in the workforce.

Mindset matters

The way you think about issues, people and situations is crucial to a positive mindset; perception is a powerful thing! Shifting a bad mood or negative mindset is often all it takes to go from being “in the zoo” to “in the zone”.

Balance and moderation

Follow the 80/20 rule and eat fresh, wholesome foods the majority of the time, saving a wee bit extra for life’s little pleasures (aka wine and chocolate!). A healthy, well-nourished body will function much better than one which exists on a diet of caffeine and fast food. Try not to skip meals if you’re stressed, and be mindful if you’re the type of person who turns to comfort food to cope with their emotions.

Don’t be a night owl

Make sure you get enough sleep to maintain a healthy immune system. Most people need seven to nine hours a night. If you’re having trouble winding down after a long day, make a conscious effort to de-plug from technology – that means no checking emails or Facebook – at least an hour before bed. Sleep researchers recommend reserving the bedroom as a space purely for sleeping; therefore it’s best to keep TVs and laptops in other areas of the house.

Sweat it out

After a busy day at work, the last thing most people feel like doing is busting their gut for an hour at the gym. But did you know it only takes 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, three times a week, to reduce stress, anxiety and depression? With the weather warming up, try to set your alarm early and get your exercise in before work – you’ll likely feel much more energetic and focussed if you make exercise a morning ritual.

Communication is key

With the pressure in jobs more acute than ever, it’s important to talk to your manager or HR department if you are worried about your workload. Rather than bottling it up and risk exploding, if you talk to someone you might find a way to reduce your workload or manage your time more effectively to cope with various demands.

Smell the roses

Just because you’ve had a stressful week at work, doesn’t mean you should turn into a hermit on the weekend, idly waiting for the dreaded Sunday afternoon blues to set in. Make an effort to do something fun on Friday nights – whether it be watching a movie or enjoying a nice dinner with the family – and lead an active weekend with ample room for relaxation. Maintaining a social life is fundamental to a healthy and happy life. And above all else, don’t forget to count your blessings!

How to get a handle on your new job

It’s only natural to feel some initial pangs of uncertainty in the early days of a new job.

Ordinarily you’ll have a few weeks between the job offer and start date, which gives you plenty of time to start thinking about the new role and prepare for your first day. Make contact with your new boss before you start to obtain as much information as you can about the organisation and your position, including annual reports, strategic plans, mission statements and organisational charts.

If possible, have a decent handover with your predecessor. Ask for any information you haven’t previously received to help you determine current practices, products, policies and procedures. Make notes – even about the most basic of things – and don’t be afraid to ask questions and for help if you need it. It also pays to write down people’s names and titles as you go – remembering someone makes that person feel important, and also remember you.

Once you have absorbed all the information about your new position and have gathered initial impressions of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to list preliminary thoughts on the short and long-term objectives.  Make a habit of consulting your colleagues before doing anything drastic and avoid making rash decisions.

When determining your plans for the future, keep in mind you don’t have to do everything on your first day, week or even month. Research shows it can take months for some organisations to see a return on its investment of a new hire. While noone is expecting you to move mountains on your first day, some jobs will however expect you to hit the ground running. Probation periods can often be up to six months but you need to prove you were the right person for the job long before your probation’s up.

As a final tip, don’t ditch the job description. It’s an important document that you can use when preparing for a performance review, applying for a higher duties allowance or requesting a review of your current job scope.

Be healthy (and happy) at work

Being chained to your desk is not just a sure-fire way to end up despising your boss – it can also be bad for your health.

Some people in office jobs sit at their computers for hours on end, forgetting to step outside for fresh air even once during their eight-hour workday.

The key to longer lasting energy throughout your work day is to be active. Walking to work or getting off the tram, train or bus a few stops earlier is a great way to boost your activity level. Many organisations offer lunchtime gym classes or corporate challenges, giving employees the flexibility to squeeze in a sweat session during their working day.

If you do work in an office, make a conscious effort to get off your chair every 30-60 minutes, whether it’s for a bathroom break, to fill up your water bottle, speak with a colleague or simply walk to the printer.

Eating lunch is not a desk job either – go outside to eat, or in a shared space within your office environs. One of the healthiest and hip-pocket friendly ways to enjoy your lunch is to bring it from home. But before you start walking from the fridge back to your desk, consider heading outside to a local park or communal area to eat. Leaving your desk for lunch can also be a good opportunity to socialise with your workmates and make the most of the fresh air.

Limit your drinks at work to coffee, tea and water. One or two cups of coffee, copious amounts of green or herbal tea and at least 2 litres of water means you’ll be healthier at work and avoid the sugar crash that comes from consuming sugary drinks.

You could also follow Learoy’s approach to creating a healthy, happy workplace and take it in turns to bring in fresh juices for the office to enjoy. Or you could dedicate one day a week for each team member to bring in something healthy for everyone to munch on. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet, super expensive lunch either – it could be homemade muesli bars for mid-morning tea or a grain-free, sugar-free loaf to beat the afternoon slump.

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About Us

The Institute of Careers is a leading career development and advisory support service, equipping Australian job-seekers and employees with the know-how to supercharge their careers. We offer a wide range of resources, including cheat sheets, FAQs and customisable templates, covering all aspects of professional development – from writing a cracking cover letter, searching for a job and selling yourself in an interview, to landing a promotion and becoming a great manager.