When it comes to life’s stresses—love, family, money—none seem more pressing than the pangs of anxiety that can come from work. At least, it feels that way sometimes. After all, most of us need to work in order to live. And that means periodically putting up with a variety of stressful situations as a matter of employment.
Goodbye, life balance.
Luckily, there are some fantastic tricks and tips out there to help you cope with some of the most common anxiety-causing workplace situations out there. Hopefully before you know it, 2017 will be the year of loving your job again.
If you feel chained to your desk all day…
Walk and talk
We get it: Even though we know how important it is to take a lunch, that doesn’t mean we always have the time to actually leave our desk to eat. So instead of feeling guilty that you can’t follow the get up and leave rule, be creative about it: Schedule walking meetings over the everyday boardroom. Or if you can work a lunch or breakfast meeting into your day, even better. At least you won’t be staring at the computer screen all day.
If your inbox is preventing you from getting any work done…
Close up shop
It’s so easy to get caught up in emails these days, especially with most everyone choosing to send a quick message rather than pick up the phone. Instead of becoming a slave to every incoming ding, close your inbox. That’s right, just close it down. Then schedule an hour into your morning and an hour into your afternoon that’s dedicated to just answering your messages. You’ll find you’ll be able to concentrate on your other tasks much more effectively, while also sending more thoughtful responses to those messaging you.
If your boss keeps sending after-hours messages…
Remember: Out-of-office is your friend
There’s nothing more stress-inducing than getting dinged once you’re home, relaxed and in a completely different mindset. But how do you ignore important messages when they come in at all hours? Sometimes, you just can’t because you care too much, and there goes your night. But what if you never saw the message in the first place? At the end of every day, be sure to set your G-chat to offline and put on an out-of-office letting people know that you’re away for the rest of the day, but will get back to them in the morning (preferably during your designated hour of email checking). That way, you’ve set an expectation and left your work at work. The most important trick for making this work, however? DON’T CHECK YOUR EMAIL AFTER HOURS.
WATCH: Speaking of iPhones…these hacks are going to make you way more productive:
If you have a chatty co-worker, who is way too distracting…
Two words: giant headphones
With fewer offices and more cubicles, the struggle is real when it comes to annoying officemates. If you have one that can’t read your cues and leave you alone when you’re busy, you may want to consider purchasing giant, noise-cancelling headphones. You don’t even have to play music, but having them on your head will give the appearance that you can’t hear anything. As a result, Chatty Cathy is way more likely to stay away.
If you can’t stop thinking about work after you leave…
Embrace the end-of-day to-do list
When you spend more than eight hours a day in one specific place, it’s only natural to keep thinking about it after you leave, especially if you know you have a ton of work waiting for you the next day. Rather than stew about it, though, take five minutes at the end of every work day and create a checklist of items you know you need to wade through the following day. Having it written down in a tangible place not only tricks the mind into leaving work at work, but you’ll start the next day nice and organized.
If all the multitasking is all too much…
If you have a tendency to keep too many folders open at once, you know that it can be the most stress-inducing thing since you learned Macs don’t have the control-alt-delete function. And although multitasking is considered a great skill, even the best balancers become overwhelmed when there’s too much going on. Rather than try and push through and do it all, all day long, figure out your key working times. If you’re most productive in the mornings, that’s when you want to do your difficult tasks, saving the easiest stuff for the afternoons. If you’re an afternoon person, get as many easier tasks off your checklist in the morning as possible.
If things just aren’t going your way…
Back up for a sec
Conflict in the workplace is way too common; after all, not everyone is always going to agree on everything. But if it feels as though your ideas or needs are constantly being ignored, step back from the situation and evaluate. Being able to see and understand another person’s point of view is the key to clarity. Once you’ve cooled down, ask your co-worker or boss why they made the decision they did and really try to understand where he or she is coming from. It may not be that they don’t respect your opinion or expertise but that they just can’t make it happen on a budget.
If you ain’t getting any recognition
Start asking for it
There’s nothing worse than when you put your heart and soul into a project (one that you happen to be pretty proud of), and your boss just shrugs off your accomplishments. And no one wants to be a braggart or fish for compliments, either. But sometimes you have to give up a little pride in order to know that your boss appreciates you. Schedule some time to solicit feedback on what he or she feels went well and where you can improve. That way, you’re at least opening up the dialogue for feedback and constructive criticism and, at the same time, letting your boss know that you care how they perceive your work.
If you don’t know how to complete a task…
Do some digging yourself
It seems, these days, as though we all have to take on more responsibilities than ever before. Sometimes, that means undertaking a task or assignment that we actually know nothing about. If you find yourself in that situation, rather than quietly agreeing, be sure to ask for as much information up front as possible. Make sure you understand exactly what’s expected of you upfront and see if there’s someone more knowledgeable whose brain you can pick before you begin. If not, maybe there’s a quick course or online refresher you can utilize and chalk it up to learning another skill.
If you’re always working evenings and weekends…
Be honest with yourself…and your boss
Working late sucks. Especially if you want to feel like you have an actual life outside of work. Sometimes, the onus is on us, because we take our laptops home in a bid to get ahead rather than staying that extra 20 minutes at work to tie up loose ends. But other times, our bosses demand we put in these hours. If that’s the case, and you’re on salary, ask for lieu time off instead. That way, you can take an extra day of vacation later on, which will go a long way in making you feel as though putting in that extra time was worth it. If you’re paid hourly, however, look into your overtime rights. Sometimes, asking for what you’re legally owed is a great way to get the boss to lay off. But above all, stand up for yourself if you really need the time off, and be honest about it. Always saying yes means you’ll be asked to do it more frequently in the future, too.
If you can’t find a solution despite trying everything in the book…
Change things up
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your work stress reaches a point where it’s just not worth it. If you’ve tried everything, but nothing is helping, schedule an appointment with your HR rep; they’re there to help. And if that doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to consider finding new employment? While it’s not always advisable to quit your current gig before you find a new one, sometimes you really do need a time out to figure out what else you want to do. Talk to your partner and a financial planner to see how the move will affect you, be prepared to take on a part-time gig while you figure it out and find out what truly makes you happy. After all, no one on their death bed ever said they wished they’d worked more in life!
If things are just out-of-control bad for all the reasons…
But before you reach the point of no return, set up a f@#k-off fund: a new bank account where you deposit small amounts of money whenever you can. Having one of these gives you some freedom. It also gives you the security to say no when what you’re being asked is totally inhumane and inappropriate: Any fear of being fired or hellishly reprimanded will seem less life-threatening, because you’ve saved enough to get you by when or if the s@#t hits the fan. It also gives you cash for a vacation, if the micro-anxieties are just temporary and you just need a much-deserved break. If you haven’t started one of these, you should. Today.
It’s time we started talking openly about our mental health. Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 31, and help end the stigma around mental illness. For every text message sent and mobile or long-distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health initiatives. The same goes for anyone sending a tweet using #BellLetsTalk, watching the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on Instagram or Facebook, or using the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. But talking about it is just the first step: Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.