5 Practical Tips for Managing Anxiety and Work Stress

Schedules, routines, commitments, self-demand, labor conflicts, and lack of motivation, among others, are some factors that can cause anxiety and work stress. Here are some tips to handle them.

Stressed woman at her workplace

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LatinAmerican Post | Erika Benitez

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Leer en español: 5 consejos prácticos para manejar la ansiedad y el estrés laboral

Anxiety and work-related stress are two increasingly common problems in the work environment, negatively affecting the personal and professional lives of those who suffer from them. "Worldwide, an estimated 12 billion working hours are lost annually due to depression and anxiety, resulting in a loss of productivity of $1 trillion per year," according to the WHO. 

In general, when discussing health and safety at work, the most frequent thing is thinking about how work accidents affect physical health. However, other types of risks occur in a more silent way that can trigger emotional disorders, anxiety, and work stress.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), "stress is the physical and emotional response to the harm caused by an imbalance between perceived demands and an individual's perceived resources and capabilities to cope with those demands." It is related to the dynamics, labor relations, and the conditions in which the different jobs are carried out. On many occasions, these demands exceed or do not correspond to the capabilities or tools available to the worker. It is at this point that people begin to feel frustrated and anxious.

Some Practical Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety at Work

We consulted with the psychologist and specialist in Occupational Health Management, Luis Felipe Díaz Toledo, to give us some recommendations for managing work stress:

1. Learn to Identify the Causes

Understanding what situations or people are causing me to feel a certain way is essential. For this, the expert suggests keeping a log. Being clear about the circumstances will help you determine whether you can adapt. "Record your thoughts, feelings, changes in the environment, and how you reacted," Diaz recommends.

Likewise, it is essential to learn to identify the signals your body sends when you feel stress, for example, if you have a headache, neck discomfort, or anxiety. Knowing the symptoms is vital so that you can begin to manage them and not allow them to progress.

2. Practice Some Physical Activity and Learn to Relax

Do activities that relax you and that you enjoy. For example, yoga is an excellent option to release stress. After or before work, it is crucial to do things you like, such as running, going to the gym, attending concerts, reading, painting, watching a series or movie, talking, or going out with a friend. The psychologist emphasizes the importance of sleeping and resting to release stress and create healthy sleep habits. You have to react in a healthy way to stress. Likewise, Díaz suggests strengthening support networks, that is, close relationships with friends and family.

3. Organize your Work Day

Developing a list of daily tasks will help to size the work and establish priorities, to fulfill all responsibilities effectively. When you complete the tasks, you can reward yourself, encouraging your motivation and good attitude within the workplace.

In the same way, the order of the physical space is paramount. Each element must be in its place. Your desk must be clear and with everything you need at your fingertips. Being comfortable will allow you to work calmer and optimize your time.

4. Take Breaks

Although it seems very obvious, many people concentrate on their work and forget that it is necessary to implement the well-known "active breaks." They are small and essential breathers in our workday. Disconnecting for a few minutes can avoid the mental exhaustion and stress that comes with carrying out the activities that we must carry out daily.

5. Talk to your Boss and Coworkers

It has been proven that managing assertive communication and maintaining a good work environment allows you to manage periods of stress favorably. Do not hesitate to express your emotions calmly and without hostility about those elements that trigger anxiety, such as (workload, delivery dates, salary, goals, schedules, etc.). At this point, the expert suggests "setting limits between your work and your personal life. This is a way to reduce stress in the face of conciliation conflicts."

Faced with this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on the responsibility of employers in mental health and the importance of knowing about psychosocial risks in the workplace. Its Global Health Report 2022: Transforming Mental Health for All highlighted the workplace as a vital example of an environment where transformative mental health action is needed.

Also read: Infographic: End of the Emergency by COVID-19 What is the Balance of more than Three Years?

In this regard, it recommends implementing institutional interventions that guarantee the quality of working conditions and environments. For example, provide your employees with flexibility in work modalities, train administrators and workers in mental health, and implement actions so that people develop skills that allow them to manage stress and anxiety appropriately and effectively.

Are Stress and Anxiety the Same?

As psychologist Luis Felipe Díaz explains, anxiety and stress are often used as synonyms from a psychological point of view. However, stress is a broad process of adaptation to change, typical in people's lives. "If excessive, intense, and prolonged demands exceed the organism's capacity for resistance and adaptation, we speak of bad stress. If prolonged, it generates dysfunctions in our organs, favors the appearance of the so-called adaptive or psychosomatic diseases, and can precipitate the appearance of other diseases," explains the expert. Negative stress is related to dismissal from work, interpersonal conflicts, working under pressure, or making important decisions.

On the other hand, "anxiety is an emotional reaction of alertness in the face of a threat. It is the most frequent emotional reaction," says Diaz. "High anxiety generates stress, and stress, in turn, is one of the most common sources of anxiety," he adds. The difference is that stress becomes the general coping syndrome.

Safe and healthy work environments are a fundamental right and guarantee greater staff loyalty and increase their performance and productivity. Therefore, companies have to promote initiatives to prevent and maintain the emotional health of their workers.

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