Sharpen your time management skills
In addition to addressing specific stress triggers, it's often helpful to improve time management skills — especially if you tend to feel overwhelmed or under pressure at work. For example:
- Set realistic goals. Work with colleagues and leaders to set realistic expectations and deadlines. Set regular progress reviews and adjust your goals as needed.
- Make a priority list. Prepare a list of tasks and rank them in order of priority. Throughout the day, scan your master list and work on tasks in priority order.
- Protect your time. For an especially important or difficult project, block time to work on it without interruption. Also, break large projects into smaller steps.
When your job is stressful, it can feel as if it's taking over your life. To maintain perspective:
- Get other points of view. Talk with trusted colleagues or friends about the issues you're facing at work. They might be able to provide insights or offer suggestions for coping. Sometimes simply talking about a stressor can be a relief.
- Take a break. Make the most of workday breaks. Even a few minutes of personal time during a busy workday can be refreshing. Similarly, take time off when you can, whether it's a two-week vacation or an occasional long weekend. Also try to take breaks from thinking about work, such as not checking your email at home in the evening or choosing times to turn off your cellphone at home.
- Have an outlet. To prevent burnout, set aside time for activities you enjoy — such as reading, socializing or pursuing a hobby.
- Take care of yourself. Be vigilant about taking care of your health. Include physical activity in your daily routine, get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy diet.
Know when to seek help
If none of these steps relieves your feelings of job stress or burnout, consult a mental health provider — either on your own or through an employee assistance program offered by your employer. Through counseling, you can learn effective ways to handle job stress.
May 16, 2016
See more In-depth
- Mind/body health: Job stress. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/job-stress.aspx. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- Stress … at work. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- Fact sheet on stress. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml. Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
- Stress and your health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/stress-your-health.html. Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. 7th ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2012.
- Coping with stress at work. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx. Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
- Fight stress with healthy habits. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/FightStressWithHealthyHabits/Fight-Stress-with-Healthy-Habits_UCM_307992_Article.jsp#.VrDw2NhIjmJ. Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.