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 the gun 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.
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.
- 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.
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 25, 2013
See more In-depth
- Hay EL, et al. Reactivity to daily stressors in adulthood: The importance of stressor type in characterizing risk factors. Psychology and Aging. 2010;25:118.
- McIntosh E, et al. Rumination, goal linking, daily hassles and life events in major depression Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. 2010;17:33.
- O'Connor DB, et al. Exploring the benefits of conscientiousness: An investigation of the role of daily stressors and health behaviors. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2009;37:184.
- Stress...at work. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/. Accessed Feb. 18, 2013.
- Mind/body health: Job stress. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/job-stress.aspx. Accessed Feb. 18, 2013.
- Stress at work: Tips to reduce and manage job and workplace stress. HelpGuide.org. http://helpguide.org/mental/work_stress_management.htm. Accessed Feb. 18, 2013.
- Mazzola JJ, et al. What qualitative research has taught us about occupational stress. Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress. 2011;27:93.
- Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. 7th ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2012:243.