We all face forms of stress in life. Sometimes our parents stress us out by pushing us to graduate from college or grad school, move out and live on our own, or get married and start a family. Other times our significant others stress us out by being ready to take the next step in a relationship before we’re prepared. Sometimes our bodies stress us out because our minds are running a mile a minute with all the things we need to do in a day, and our blood pressure elevates causing us to feel overly tense and anxious.

Most times, stress stems from work. Maybe it’s due to a nagging boss, a never ending to-do list, or unhappy clients. Perhaps the stress comes from working our tails off to achieve the promotion we so deserve, or the fact that we have a pile of work to complete before the weekend arrives, or maybe, just maybe, it’s us stressing ourselves out on the job.

Work-Related Stress By The Numbers

According to The American Institute of Stress (AIS), workplace stress is characterized by

“Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands…” which “…have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders.”

AIS shares a number of statistics on their website that were harvested from a report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These stats include the facts that:

  • 40% of workers feel their job is extremely stressful
  • 29% of workers feel their job is quite a bit stressful
  • 26% of workers are often very burned out by their work
  • 25% of workers believe that their job is the number one source of stress in their lives
  • Job stress is strongly associated with health complaints

Work-Related Stress By The Symptoms

Whichever situation you find yourself in, work-related stress can be brutal. Consider this abbreviated list of physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of work-related stress:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Discouragement
  • Aggression
  • Disinterest
  • Isolation
  • Mood swings

5 Tips to Manage Work-Related Stress

If you’ve ever experienced any of these symptoms of work-related stress, here are five tips for you to manage stress (and hopefully combat stress) in the workplace a bit better:

1. Isolate the source of your stress.

Is a particular person, job duty, time of year, etc. causing you stress? If every single time you meet with your boss you leave the conversation feeling anxious, aggressive, and/or stressed out, chances are this person is causing you stress. If a time of year, such as your company’s busiest season, happens to bring you work-related stress, then that’s the root cause. You need to uncover who, what, and/or when you feel stressed.

Isolate the source to identify the origin of your stress. Only when you discover who or what brings you stress and when it happens, can you begin to remedy the stress you feel.

2. Address the problem.

Once you’ve isolated the source of your stress, it’s time to take action. Speak to the person giving you a headache at the start of each work day. Schedule a time to meet with your boss or supervisor if the source of your stress is a particular job duty that overwhelms you. You cannot overcome the stress, or at least learn to manage it better, if you don’t address it directly.

The person in the office who dumps projects on your desk won’t know you’re stressed out and overwhelmed unless you speak up. Your boss won’t understand why you’re having such a difficult time with a particular task unless you address it and explain why you’re struggling. Most of the time, confrontation can lead to solutions.

Maybe that person who frustrates you will realize they shouldn’t be giving you more work when you’re already maxed out with to-dos. Perhaps your boss will recognize that you aren’t the best fit for a specific task, and reassign it to another colleague. Communication is key. Speak up and address the problems to help manage (and maybe even combat) your work-related stress.

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3. Leave your stress at the office.

Negativity breeds negativity. If you carry your stress home with you, you’ll never have time to wind down. Don’t let the stress you felt all day craze you all night. We all need time to unwind and relax. Leave your stress at the office.

The moment you get in your car for the commute home, play your favorite song, call your significant other, or listen to an audio book. Go home and hug your pet(s), exercise, meditate, cook dinner, or watch a movie. Don’t think about the stress, don’t check your email, don’t stew. Get a solid night of sleep and try your best to return to work refreshed the next day.

4. Don’t burden others with it.

Venting can be a very healthy coping mechanism for some people, but don’t spend the bulk of your conversations with your friends, family, or s/o complaining about why you dislike your job or the people you work with. Complaining is not a conversation.

Others may feel burdened if every time you chat it’s all you talk about. Get through a short venting session and then laugh about it and move on. If you let your work-related stress consume you, your family and friends may not want to spend as much time around you as normal. Don’t allow your job stress to crack the foundation between you and your peers.

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5. Make a change.

Ultimately, if the stress never eases up and you can’t manage it, it may make sense to look for a new position, workplace, or entirely different industry altogether. If day in and day out of the office you feel anxious, overworked, depressed, frustrated, aggressive, or have any other symptoms aforementioned, you might need to change your career.

Don’t hesitate. If you can afford to, consider taking some time off after leaving your current role so you have a chance to clear your mind and regroup. If you can’t afford to take time off, do your best to transition into a new role with finesse. Establish professional boundaries with your new team so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Don’t let stress from the past affect the direction you’re going. Make a change by putting your physical health, mental health, passions, and happiness first.

Do you suffer from work-related stress? If you feel comfortable, please share your symptoms in the comments and tell us what methods work best to help you manage (or combat) work-related stress!


*Findings supported by NIOSH, Publication Number 99-101