17 Strategies for Managing Stress When You Are Burning Out at Work

There is no question that our jobs are a significant source of stress in our lives. Even the best jobs can be frustrating, overwhelming, and sometimes dangerous. Although we can’t avoid stress in our lives altogether, no job is worth damaging our physical, mental, or emotional health.

Here are 17 strategies for effectively managing work-related stress that won’t break the bank and will make you happier at work!

1. Keep Breathing

Remember to keep breathing. It may sound trite, but when we’re stressed, it’s easy for our emotions to spiral. Soon enough, we’re panicking. 

Take a breather if you have the urge to yell at someone or scream at work. Just slowly breathe in and breathe out three times. Let the moment pass. Swallow what you’d really like to say to the person. Then move on, mentally and physically. 

2. Take Regular Breaks

Think about how many breaks a cigarette smoker takes in a day. You’re allowed that too! Step outside and get some fresh air or walk around the block. Actually take a break during your lunch break. Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it’s worth it. A change of scenery and perspective will help you deal with managing stress.

3. Speak Up

Don’t keep your stress bottled up inside. That is the worst thing you can do. 

You may doubt yourself, convinced that you’re just exaggerating and things aren’t so bad. It’ll get better if you just suck it up for a bit longer. Sure, you can wait it out, but do you need to? Or want to? Some situations will pass, but it’s time to speak up if you are genuinely stressed out (especially if this has been happening for a while). 

You don’t necessarily have to jump to your HR department, but it might be a good idea to talk about it with your boss or direct supervisor. They may be able to make some changes to your workload or schedule that will alleviate some of your stress.

4. Turn to Your Loved Ones

You don’t have to go through everything alone. You can always confide in a family member or a close friend and share some of what you’re trying to sort out in your head. It can be helpful to get advice from different perspectives before determining the next steps you should take.

Spending quality time with your loved ones will also help you manage stress and take your mind off work.

5. Get Professional Support

Don’t hesitate to speak with a mental health counselor or physician, regardless of your stress level. They can help you develop a plan to manage stress, find healthy outlets, and provide coping mechanisms to improve your overall well-being. Physicians can also help to identify potential medical causes of stress and recommend treatments.

Remember: You are not alone. Tons of people get depressed from their jobs. If you feel stressed enough to read articles about it, you could benefit from speaking to a health professional. Your company might even cover this as part of their employee advocate/wellness program. 

It is crucial to seek professional support before reaching a crisis point. Many free (or affordable) mental health resources and crisis support are available. Reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It could be the best decision you ever make. 

6. Write It Out

When you are stressed, just start writing for 5 minutes. Get a nice notebook and pen or open a blank word document and sit down with a timer for 5 minutes. If you feel inclined to continue writing, go ahead. The whole point is to relax and safely vent a little instead of airing your frustrations on social media. 

If you find writing works for you, consider journaling more regularly. Make it part of your daily routine. Journaling can be a great way to sort through your thoughts and different emotions. Keeping a work journal also allows you to track your projects and professional achievements.  

7. Get Some Exercise

Exercise is essential when trying to accomplish anything in your life, whether building a business or writing a book. You need to exercise if you have a big goal or project that includes dealing with a lot of stress. 

Small steps are key here. You don’t want the thought of ‘needing’ to exercise regularly to stress you out too! 

What is something you enjoy (or don’t hate), is convenient (near work or home), and affordable? It can be following instructions from a YouTube video at home or simply taking a 15-minute walk. Do something that will take you away from your worries for a few moments and give your mind a break. 

8. Take a Second Look at Your Diet

A good diet is not only crucial for your physical health but also your mental well-being. It plays an integral role in stress management by improving immunity and lowering blood pressure. 

What we eat can profoundly affect our mood and how we feel. For example, foods high in sugar and fat can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. On the other hand, certain foods can reduce levels of stress-causing hormones. Foods rich in fiber and vitamins, such as fruits and vegetables, will play a vital role in reducing stress and anxiety.

Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking lots of water to manage stressful changes are essential.

9. Make Changes to Your Lifestyle

Changing your lifestyle habits for the better can also help with stress management. These changes may include getting more sleep and quitting smoking or heavy drinking, which affect your physical and psychological well-being. 

If you are not used to sleeping eight hours a night, start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Once you are used to that, add another 15 minutes. Similarly, to quit smoking or drinking, cut back one cigarette or drink every few days until you break the habit

Making healthier changes may be difficult at first, but they will ultimately help you to manage stress better. 

10. Meditate

The main goal of meditation is to obtain tranquility, eliminate unwanted or negative thoughts, and focus your attention. It is a popular tool for managing stress, but it’s not easy for everyone. 

If you find regular meditation too difficult for you (you fall asleep, daydream, or get impatient), you might want to try guided meditations. Guided meditation can be an exciting adventure for your mind. It can be very calming, letting another person’s voice guide you through an imaginary forest or just noticing the positive things in your life. 

Learning about various relaxation techniques, such as meditation, can help you practice mindfulness and improve stress management. Even if you feel you aren’t getting it at first, you will surely benefit from practicing mental relaxation for a few minutes each day. 

11. Self-Care

Self-care can help reduce stress, improve mood, and give you more energy. It’s a way to recharge your batteries and keep healthy by making time for yourself, even when busy. 

There are many ways to practice self-care, such as candle-lit baths, walks, dancing, yoga, or any creative activity. Do whatever makes you feel good physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

One way to make self-care a priority in your life is to schedule it into your day. Put this time in your calendar and treat it like any other appointment. This way, you’re more likely to stick to it.

12. Do Something You Love or Makes You Laugh

What is something that you absolutely love or always makes you laugh? Old horror flicks? A visit to the beach? Is there a band coming to town that you love? 

At work, are there funny cat videos you can watch on your break or an interesting podcast you can listen to?

We need something special to help us ‘snap out of it’ for a while when stressed. Sure, the problems will still be there afterward, but you will feel a little lighter and might even think of new solutions too!

13. Try a New Hobby

Having hobbies is a great way to cope with stress. Look for new hobbies (or re-start ones you’ve stopped) to keep your mind occupied. Focusing on your interests instead of your stressors helps you cope and can help you to find more positive ways to spend your time.

Doing something you’re good at can also boost your self-confidence, which can help you feel better about yourself and your ability to cope with stress. Plus, you can learn many new job skills through your hobby!

14. Protect Your Energy 

Spending time with certain people leaves you feeling inspired and invigorated. With others, you feel like all the energy is sucked out of you, and you are miserable after spending time with them.

Do your best to avoid those who drain you. If you can’t avoid them, try to limit your time with them. Set boundaries, and don’t let them take up more of your time and energy than necessary. Keep interactions brief and to the point. 

Or, if you are a visual person, picture yourself in a bubble or behind a glass wall while interacting with negative people. It may sound odd, but it works if you let it.

15. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries may be more tangible than the idea of protecting your energy. Boundaries are healthy, and you can use them in all areas of your life.

Boundaries are not about shutting people out; they’re about maintaining healthy relationships for both parties. At work, it means only sharing the parts of your life that you feel comfortable sharing. If someone asks you about something that you consider more personal, it means glossing over it, changing the subject, or honestly saying you’d rather not get into that at work.

What does this have to do with dealing with stress? While sorting out your stressful situation, setting healthy boundaries with the other people involved is a good idea. It will also help if you say no to situations that are likely to cause stress. 

16. Take Small Steps

Whatever you do during this stressful time, do it in small steps. For example, if you want to quit your job, give yourself time to prepare and find a new job before you resign. 

Since we naturally don’t think as well when we’re under a lot of stress, it’s best to do everything in small doses to give ourselves time to adjust and not add more pressure than we already have.

17. Find a New Job

Some jobs may be more stress-inducing than others. Regardless, if your job makes you sick, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. 

We all have to work to make a living, but sometimes we have to take a step back and consider whether our job is worth the toll it’s taking on our bodies and minds. After all, stress is associated with various health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks, and can be fatal. Our health is one of the most important things we have, and we should do everything we can to protect it.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to leave your job. Reflect on your situation. Do you simply need to change how you think about the problem? Do you need to take action and do something about it? Is there something you can change, or is leaving your only option? 

Remember, your health is more important than your job.

Wrapping Up

Nothing good ever comes from stressing yourself out, especially over things you can’t control. 

These strategies are all ways to help deal with the stress, panic, and anxiety that can sometimes spiral out of control. While you’ll still need to figure out an action plan, you’ll be able to problem-solve better since you will feel less stressed.

Ultimately, your decisions and actions about your health are your responsibility. So go out there and watch a terrible old horror movie with a loved one and then go to bed early. You got this.

This article originally appeared on My Work From Home Money.

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Amanda Kay, Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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