Live Well

Stephanie HowesHow to manage workplace stress

Stress can be a silent predator.

A study by found that stress is the reason for 75 to 90 per cent of doctor visits, and workplace stress in particular can be debilitating when not handled effectively.

While many people think stress is external (traffic, deadlines, projects), it actually begins as an intrinsic reaction to an external event.

A registered nurse and the interim associate dean in KPU’s faculty of community and health studies, Stephanie Howes knows a little something about workplace stress, and offers her insight.

Don’t procrastinate: Everyone has job tasks that are less than enjoyable. Facing those unpleasant tasks and getting them out of the way as soon as possible makes it easier to focus and make the most of the rest of the day.  

Use the power of a polite “no”: It is important to provide clear boundaries. “Nobody loves a martyr,” says Howes. Prioritize tasks.

Take breaks: Don’t just leave the office physically, but stay “unplugged” for a little while, says Howes. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the clutter of technology. Remember to put down the phone, and turn off the computer long enough to relax the mind. Mentally taking a break from work makes easier to come back to work focused and productive.

Be mindful: Stress is an internal reaction to an external event. Accept the negative feeling, reflect on it, and allow it to pass. The more the mind can think objectively, the easier it is to put things into perspective.  

Recognize the red flags: A change in appetite, sleep disturbances, irritability and changes in weight are all symptoms of stress. Notice the signs and make a conscious effort to improve the situation.

Stay Healthy: Choose nutritious foods that provide long-lasting energy. Get enough sleep. Engage in physical activity every day, even if it’s just taking the dog for a walk. But also don’t feel guilty for eating a slice of cake or skipping the gym on occasion. Life is all about balance.  

While stress can be a burden, the good news is that there are simple, effective ways to keep workplace stress under control.