How to Handle Pressure at Work and Prevent Burnout
We are all a little prone to perfectionist tendencies, especially at the office. And while this preference for precision is usually praised, it can become a serious health risk if you don’t know how to manage them effectively. It’s great to be motivated and proactive, but if it leads to heightened physical and emotional exhaustion, it might be time to reassess your goals. Pressure in nature can produce beautiful things—hello, diamonds—but too much tension at work can have a negative impact on your physical well-being. New research published in the Huffington Post found “perfectionists suffer from high rates of burnout.” Since prevention is always better than a cure, scroll down for a few simple things you can do to avoid office meltdown.
These are different for everyone, so it’s important that you identify what situations trigger stress. Keep a journal handy where you can pen your reactions to certain physical and environmental stressors as they happen. Become aware of your behavior in these situations and find a way to cope without giving into the pressure. Instead of losing your cool, go for a walk, get a cup of tea or a snack, anything to take your mind off it and regroup. Once you identify your stressors, you’ll be on your way to preventing them.
We are bombarded by emails, phone calls, direct messages, and social updates 24/7, and while it might seem like a quick five-second glance or a short email reply at the time, these all add up and can take your attention away from that looming deadline. Before you know it, the time to submit your project has arrived, and you’re still not ready. Remove the stress of distractions so you can devote yourself to the task at hand, and then turn them back on once you’re done. If you’re waiting on an important email, then schedule set times where you log back in; just don’t get sidetracked.
If you have too much stress in your life, it will impact your sleep, and this lack of sleep can increase your stress levels. So we suggest you get the recommended seven hours of sleep a night, because recent research suggests that even 20 minutes less than this “impairs performance and memory the next day.” While quality sleep is important for stress management, so is how you eat at work. Try to eat a protein-rich lunch that will take your mind and body through the day without reaching for the sugary snacks and coffee mid-afternoon. Come prepared with healthy alternatives to snack on that will keep you alert and on track.
If you’re still experiencing high levels of stress at work, then it’s time to take a breather and replenish your energy. Techniques like meditation or mindfulness are always good options, but if they aren’t for you, then set aside a moment during the day to switch off. This is especially important during busy periods where high energy levels are required for long intervals. It might seem like you just don’t have the time, but disconnecting from everything for short bursts can clear your head and refocus your attention. This moment shouldn’t be spent on a smartphone, either. Go for a walk outside, listen to some music, call a family member or friend to chat about something other than work… It’s up to you what you do—just do it.
Breathing is a compulsive action our bodies do without even trying, but not all breaths were created equal. Next time when you’re feeling stressed, take notice of how your breaths. You’ll find they’re generally a little erratic and shorter than usual, which can impact your nervous system and cause you to feel panicked. But this is the opposite of how you want to feel when experiencing tension at work. To steady your nerves and bring on a sense of calm, this 76-second breathing technique designed by Dr. Andrew Weil will do the trick—this same practice will help you fall asleep too. So how does it work? Here’s a simple rundown via Mind Body Green.
1. Sit up straight in a chair.
2. Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process.
3. Breathe in silently through your nose to the slow count of four.
4. Hold your breath to the count of seven.
5. Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making a slightly audible sound.
6. Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle another three times, for a total of four breathing exercises.
If you’re feeling good, you’re going to produce great work. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t communicate with your boss that your workload is too much or you can’t meet the deadlines set, then you will burn out pretty quickly, and what good are to your superior then? In order to meet your high personal standards and achieve great success in everything you do, you need to be realistic. Having an open conversation with your boss isn’t a sign of failure either: It’s not a moment where you chastise yourself for not meeting his/her expectations; it’s an open conversation in a professional environment to discuss an effective plan to manage your stressors so you can perform at your peak. Now what boss isn’t going to welcome that?
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How do you reduce pressure at work? Let us know in the comments.