Understanding Your Work Stressors and Overcoming Them

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Everyone gets stressed at work sometimes. While a little stress can help you to get moving on a project you’ve been putting off, it can also be a huge problem if it becomes chronic and keeps you in a state of anxiety.

We’re all individuals, so we all respond to stress in different ways, and to different situations. A work situation that you find stressful might be no big deal to your colleague, and vice-versa. And while there are some near-universal stressors, like having a serious talk with your boss, there are others that are more individual.

Understanding what causes you stress at work—whether you’re working from home or going into the office—is key for overcoming chronic stress and feeling calmer at work. Over time, stress will affect your work and burn you out, not to mention that it’s hard on your body. That’s why it’s so important to find your stressors and develop ways to deal with them.

The Reality of Workplace Stress

Research reveals that work is the biggest source of stress for Americans. We’re more stressed at work than ever, despite the fact that our society now has access to advanced technology that allows us to automate many professional tasks. Stress from work is affecting our health as a society and can even lead to major health problems and events like heart attacks.

If you’ve been feeling stressed at work, know that you’re definitely not alone. However, for your own health and well-being, it’s important to get a handle on excessive stress before it starts to affect your daily life and work performance.

How to Identify Your Stressors

We know that general stress is an issue, but how do you figure out what your personal stressors are? How do you know what exactly at work is causing problems? Some of your personal stressors might be quite obvious, but others can be much more subtle, even if they are causing you lots of problems.

One good strategy is to simply think about your workday and write down anything that you can identify as a stressor. Think about factors like the environment you work in (Is your chair uncomfortable? Is the lighting harsh?), your interactions with your colleagues, your workload, and any semi-regular work events, like meetings and presentations, that could be causing you stress.

It’s also a good idea to start a week of observation. Don’t change your routine, but keep a notebook next to you at your desk. Journal for a minute or two about your general mood, then write down anything that appears as a stressor as you go about your day. By the end of the week, you should have a good idea of what disrupts you the most.

Tips for Reducing and Preventing Stress

Once you know what your stressors are, it’s time to figure out how to neutralize them as much as possible. You usually can’t eliminate stress at work completely, but there are some ways to reduce the stress you feel, especially when you know what is causing you to be stressed out. Here are some general tips that tend to help people who are struggling with chronic stress.

Deep Breathing

Lots of people, especially those who work in high-stress jobs like nursing or finance, are incredibly busy. They might not be able to step away from stressful situations, especially when the stakes are high. In these situations, simple exercises like deep breathing can help.

It may seem too simple to be effective, but the truth is that deep breathing exercises can help you to calm down in the moment and help you improve other elements of your health over time. If you’re facing a stressful situation and you can’t go out for a walk or step away, try deep breathing.


Many people gain benefits from implementing daily meditation. Taking some time to sit down, close your eyes, and direct your thoughts into the present is a surprisingly powerful stress reliever. You can meditate before work, on your lunch break, or any time you can spare a few minutes.

Not only is meditation a great stress management technique, but it’s also accessible and easy to implement. You don’t need much special knowledge or any equipment, just a quiet space and a few minutes.

Find Time for Exercise

We all know how important exercise is for physical health. It helps us in so many ways, from better sleep to a reduced risk for a number of illnesses. It’s also a powerful stress reducer that you should incorporate into your daily routine.

Finding time for exercise can be a challenge, but it’s critical to managing stress. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense, but it does have to be consistent. Simply taking a walk every day can help you stay in a good state of mind and manage those everyday stressors.

Don’t let your stress imprison you. Find out what stresses you out and take these simple steps to make your life (and work) better!