By Ann Marie O’Brien
Feeling stressed at work? If so, you’re not alone. A recent Gallup Poll revealed that 55 percent of Americans said they experienced stress “a lot” during the day, up from 46 percent in 2006.
In the workplace, stress can affect your attitude, relationships with your colleagues and affect your work performance. And although a modest amount of stress is normal, high levels of stress can be dangerous to your health and may contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression.
Fortunately, there are ways to help manage stress. Here are five tips to consider that may reduce your workplace stress and get you back on a healthy track preforming at your usual best.
Consider having an open discussion with your boss about the stressors associated with your work responsibilities. Ask if there is an opportunity for additional skills training, or possibly even restructure your job to make it more manageable and better aligned with your interests and skills. Also, check if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), which may provide available counseling and online resources.
We’ve all had days when it seems impossible to get everything done. In some cases, poor time management is the reason we feel this way, which then may trigger stress. For your next work assignment, talk with your supervisor before getting started to plan realistic goals, priorities and deadlines.
An increasing number of employers are offering well-being programs through their health plan and are making healthier food options available in the workplace. Some employers offer gym reimbursement programs such as UnitedHealthcare’s Gym Check-In, have onsite workout rooms, stand-up desks, encourage walking meetings and well-being challenges like “taking the stairs.” Remember, it’s important for both your physical and mental health to combine exercise with a well-balanced diet.
If you have a close colleague at work, talk with that person and explain your work stressors and brainstorm possible solutions. If you don’t, then reach out to friends and loved ones. It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself after a stressful event.
If you’re feeling stress, a simple treat such as going to a movie, enjoying your favorite meal, or just getting away to take a brief walk can give you time to unwind and recharge. If you cannot get a handle on your stress, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a counselor who could help you find other ways to help reduce or manage the unhealthy stress in your life.
Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., is the national director of health strategies for UnitedHealthcare.