By Nicole Majka, LCPC

Stressed at work?

If your answer is yes then you are not alone. Due to today’s economic struggles most employers are expecting more out of their employees than ever before, which leads to increased stress and eventual burn out. The million-dollar question is how can we manage the stress of increased workload, non-supportive work environments and work conflicts without losing our sanity?

There are several ways to manage stress at work. The first is making sure you are setting limits for yourself; don’t take work home with you. How many times have you heard, “leave work at the door?” Bringing work home, constantly checking emails, answering calls once you leave the office is not good for you or your family.

There needs to be a separation between work and home. If not, there is no down time. If you are business owner, this is a challenge! Limits need to be set on how much time you spend after hours and on weekends managing your business. Let your weekends or days off be just that! Spend time with family and friends and work on rejuvenating your mind, body and spirit.

The next questions is… How do we handle the stress at work? Talk about your stress to a loved one, spouse, friend, coworker or therapist. If you work for a large company, seek out EAP services, which offer free and confidential counseling. Be cautious with coworkers, however, as too much complaining at work can backfire and inadvertently get back to your boss or supervisor. Also, avoid the negativity trap at work; complaining and negativity is contagious. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on what you can do. Many times our circumstances cannot be changed.

However, we can change how we look at it. Focus on what you are able to do rather than what you can’t. Changing your viewpoint is a powerful tool and will make you feel more empowered rather than helpless.

How do we, then, self-care? Self-care can entail many different things and is different for everyone. Self-care can be getting a massage, taking a walk, exercising, spending time with family friends, playing with a pet, painting, crafting, cooking, praying, hobbies and anything in between. Engage in activities, which help you relax and feel good. Good sleep and nutrition are also important. Ever heard the phrase, “Nothing like a good night’s sleep?” Poor sleep affects the body’s ability function and which will impact how we manage stress. Along with sleep, nutrition is also important as our body needs good energy; fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Not eating/sleeping will not give our brains the rest and energy required to function at work and at home.

The most important way to deal with stress is to pray, pray, pray! Stress will affect our self-esteem, which leads to self-doubt, depression and anxiety. Focus on who the Bible says we are. Some passages to include are; Psalm 139:14 “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, 1 Peter 5:7 “cast your cares upon lord, James 1:2-4 “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”. Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, whom can be against us”. Continuously pray and ask for guidance, seek an Elder of the church, join a small group and get connected! Always remember Matthew 18:20, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am with them”.

Dealing with stress is never easy, and can have a multitude of negative consequences on our physical , emotional and spiritual well-being. Good self-care, boundaries and support systems are a must to keep you balanced and deal with stress at work more effectively. If, however, mentioned coping skills are not working or the situation continues to escalate, additional steps may need to be taken. These include seeing your doctor, seeking professional help or short term leave of absence. The bottom line in managing stress is taking care of you first and foremost!