May 2016

Tips for Managing Stress at Work

Everybody’s been there. You have too many balls in the air, tight deadlines are closing in and a last-minute project pops up that needs attention right now. So how do you relax and take it all in stride?

Some of these are habits I’ve personally found helpful while others were inspired by friends and coworkers. While I’m no expert on this topic, I’m much better at managing stress than I used to be. Please don’t forget to weigh in with your own!

    • Ask for help prioritizing: This is especially important if you report to more than one person or help out in multiple departments. As an adult, it should be up to you to manage your own schedule and to know when you’re at capacity.When you feel that point coming, alert your manager(s) that things are going to start falling through the cracks if something doesn’t give. From there, it helps to sit down and prioritize your to-do list. Which activities are truly most important – and time-sensitive – to the organization?If done right this should ease the burden of trying to do too much with too little and – as an added bonus – your boss will appreciate the heads-up before something goes wrong.
    • Delegate: This obviously works best when you have a team of people you can actually delegate to. Then it’s just a matter of determining which tasks play to each team member’s strengths, communicating expectations and trusting them to deliver.But what if you’re a lone ranger?While there’s no easy answer, engaging colleagues from other areas of your organization – or strategic business partners – brings multiple benefits. In addition to cultivating professional relationships, it helps you better understand the different roles people fill and how they can all come together to achieve big things.

      “I spent many years as a ‘team of one’ managing large-scale projects,” said Janet Cannata, Proforma’s Creative Services Specialist with more than 20 years of experience facilitating organizations’ marketing efforts. “You want to pull in people who can make contributions to the end result, and you need to communicate the big picture – that this is going to benefit everyone and their contributions are going to make a big difference to the goals of the organization.”

    • Cultivate strong professional relationships: All relationships are give and take, whether personal or professional. So always be willing to help coworkers, business partners and clients out when you can.In other words, be nice. People will generally be much more willing to go to bat for you if they know you’d do the same for them. And some of the best stress relief I’ve found is a good laugh or conversation with an office pal.
    • Get out of your seat: I can never tout the benefits of physical activity enough. If you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed – or even just hit a wall when working on a creative project – go for a walk. Outside is better in my opinion, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re moving. For me, this is often a jump-start to problem-solving ideas and it’s also good for your health!If you’re really getting fed up with a project, try shutting down for the day and taking a fresh look tomorrow if that’s an option. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do.
    • Get enough sleep: Perfect segue! We’ve all heard it from various experts that most people need between six and nine hours of sleep every night to maintain long-term vitality and health. That’s all well and good, but for me getting enough winks often has almost immediate benefits. A single good night’s sleep helps me make better decisions, be friendlier and react proportionately to a wide range of situations.Think the old, “Will this even matter in one year? Five years?” I’m much better equipped to talk myself through that exercise after a cool eight hours of rejuvenating shut eye.
    • Plan outings during the week: Don’t wait until Friday to do fun things with your friends and family! I think many people get the “Sunday Blues” because they reserve weekends for fun and work days for, well, work. Ideally you like your job, so you’re not completely dreading Monday morning every week. But setting up something as simple as a Wednesday night dinner with your best friend or a Tuesday evening bike ride through the park with family can help you break up the week with a fun memory-maker.

How do you right the ship when you’re feeling stressed? Please share your tips in the comments!