The U.S. is known for its “work hard, play hard” mentality. While it ranks tenth on the list of Hardest Working Countries 2021 (Mexico and Costa Rica rank first and second), many consider the U.S. American workplace to be one of the most stressful worldwide. Source: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/hardest-working-countries
In fact, in 2019 the World Economic Forum ranked the US as the second most competitive country worldwide, and Forbes revealed employees are 20% less likely to say they are well prepared to do their jobs now than a month ago due to the pandemic. With high expectations, increasing demands, and longer hours creating a pressure-cooker environment for U.S. employees, stress management is top of mind. In honor of Stress Awareness Month this April 2021, we are sharing five ways to better manage work-related stress and improve overall wellness.
- Triage Tasks: Waking up to a dozen different assignments, client meetings, and email can put even the most organized professionals in a panic. Instead of trying to multitask a million things, consider a project app like Asana to organize your to-do list by priority. Review tasks and goals on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to track due dates and avoid scrambling at the last minute.
- Integrate Stress-Relief Strategies: Find simple methods to keep calm throughout the workday. Consider soothing aromatherapy oils like lavender, take a walk outside, meditate briefly, or listen to a calming playlist. Small acts of self-care ease even your most hectic days and ensure that you’re prioritizing your wellbeing.
- Think Big Picture: It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of long-term professional goals, whether it’s a promotion, a sales quota, or an exciting new opportunity. Once a month, take time to reflect on your short and long milestones, monitor your state, if your focus has shifted, and memorialize steps to keep striving towards your dream. Set benchmarks, hold yourself accountable, and self-reward short and long-term goal achievement. Doing so keeps job stress in perspective and re-energizes your motivation to pursue your aspirations.
- Clock Out: During a pandemic, with remote work, and work from home, it’s easy to access work assignments anywhere, any time. Resist the urge to spend all evening getting a head start on tomorrow’s email or to skip dinner with family in favor of a virtual presentation preparation. Turn off email notifications after hours and resist the urge to check-in. Consider leaving your phone on silent in another room if possible. Instead, enroll in that online art or painting class, sign-up for a virtual language course, join an on-line book club, or bake a challenging new recipe with a loved one, or start reading that book. Dedicating time to personal passions, interests, and loved ones is a vital part of achieving wellness and balance. This leaves you more refreshed to tackle projects and assignments the next day.
- Tune into Your Health: While we all feel the negative effects of stress from time to time, prolonged fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, or sleeplessness can be a sign of more serious health issues. In fact, a 2015 study by Management Science investigated 10 sources of workplace stress, such as high demands and long hours, and found that all of them contribute to higher health care expenditures and significant health risks. Commit to lifestyle choices that support your health:
- engaging in daily exercise or even a simple short walk
- consuming healthy food like fresh, seasonal greens and veggies
- adequate sleep of approximately 6-8 hours nightly
- creating a mindfulness practice such as meditation, yoga or prayer.
While stress is a normal part of any job, prolonged or overwhelming stress can take a toll on overall performance, physical health, and job satisfaction. To avoid the negative impact of work-related pressures, take time to reorganize and reflect on how to ensure your needs are met, and remember to make your wellness a priority.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She is a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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