The U.S. is internationally known for its “work hard, play hard” mentality. While not at the top of the list, and many consider the U.S. American workplace to be among the most stressful worldwide.

In fact, in 2017 Forbes ranked the US as the second most competitive country worldwide, and a survey by Monster revealed the impact of high-intensity workplaces with 61% of respondents reporting illness due to work-related stress. 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, we’re sharing five ways to better manage work-related stress and improve overall wellness.

  1. 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 do a million things at once, consider a project app like Asana, organize your to-do list by priority, or tackle it one project at a time. Consider doing this on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to track upcoming due dates. Avoid scrambling at the last minute.
  2. Stress-Relief Strategies: If you find yourself getting frazzled throughout the workday, find simple methods to keep calm. Consider aromatherapeutic oils, taking a short walk outside, or listening to a calming playlist with headphones. Small acts of self-care add up to help ease even your most hectic days, and ensure that you’re prioritizing your wellbeing.
  3. Act With Intention: 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 why you’re working so hard, and memorialize ways to keep striving towards your dream. Set benchmarks to hold yourself accountable, with rewards for achieving short and long term goals. Doing so will keep job stress in perspective, and reenergize you with motivation to pursue your professional aspirations.
  4. Off the Clock: With our phones always within inches of our fingertips, it’s easy to access work assignments from anywhere. Resist the urge to spend all evening getting a head start on tomorrow’s email, or to skip dinner with family in favor of presentation preparation. Turn off email notification after hours, or consider leaving your work phone at the office. Dedicating time to personal passions, interests, and loved ones is a vital part of achieving wellness and balance.
  5. 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. If you suspect that occasional stress is impacting your overall wellbeing, consider speaking with a medical professional about how best to manage stress symptoms.

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 and Amanda Alden co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Amanda Alden is an intercultural research assistant with Access to Culture. She graduated with honors from St. Edward’s University with a major in Global Studies and a minor in French, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Intercultural Mediations at l’Université de Lille III. Feel free to connect with Amanda at on LinkedIn.

Photo: Pxhere