Dealing with Stress in the Workplace


As people’s work and personal lives increasingly overlap, it can be difficult to set boundaries that allow for personal space. This constant intrusion can create a false sense of responsibility to be available at every hour, whether that be to a business, employer, family or friends. Many people express that they are overwhelmed, depressed and exhausted because they are unsure of what boundaries are appropriate and how to set boundaries that support career development and personal happiness.

If you are feeling constantly overwhelmed, here are some key strategies to try:

Pinpoint the primary source of overwhelm. 

Ask yourself, “What one or two things, if taken off my plate, would alleviate 80% of the stress that I feel right now?” While you may still be responsible for these items and cannot actually take them off your plate, this question can still help you identify a significant source of your stress.

  • Finish projects that are almost complete.
  • Manage tasks or projects by delegating or re-negotiating deadlines.


Challenge your perfectionism. 

Perfectionism can be a burden. Perfectionists often put tasks off, or don’t start important projects, for fear that it won’t be all they envision. This type of paralysis can extend into decision making and even delegating.

This type of stress is difficult to overcome. The only way to overcome perfectionism paralysis at work is to do the task required to the best of your ability and submit the project to deadline. The only way to overcome the stress of perfectionism is to keep moving forward with projects and submissions, even if they are not as perfect as you might think they need to be. By relinquishing control, allowing yourself to make mistakes, and allowing other people to be helpful, or even do their part of the job, you allow yourself and others to develop skills and progress.

Outsource or delegate. 

A great leader understands that when you hire the best support team, they are there to fulfil roles and do jobs that you require of them. By delegating tasks you are recognising the skills your colleagues have, which creates trust and respect between you and your colleagues.

Outsourcing tasks that you and your team do not have the skills to complete reduces stress and ensures a job is done correctly. This gives you time to focus on the tasks you do well and eases the feelings of stress that come from not having control over a situation.

Set boundaries on your time.

An easy way to achieve your goals and complete tasks is to specify the time you spend on a task or project. Setting a timer can help you remain productive during the day and stay on task so you’ll complete projects to a deadline. Setting a 40 minute work and 10 minute break pattern through the day can help keep your mind fresh and remind you to get more movement.

While you might need to take calls or answer messages after hours, you can still set boundaries, such as not answering your phone during an hour for dinner and setting a bedtime, meaning you never answer messages after a set hour. (This might not be practical for people who are on-call or who own a business, however, it is still important to recognise your time is a precious resource.)

Challenge your assumptions. 

Feeling overwhelmed often is the result of wanting to control everything, or feeling like you are the only person capable of completing a certain role. If things are starting to fall apart because you want to remain in complete control, or feel you must, it might be time to question yourself more closely.

  • Is giving up control about your own insecurities?
  • Do you trust your team or colleagues?
  • Does being overwhelmed actually feed your ego?

Some people become used to the feeling of being needed and while they say they are overwhelmed, they do not want to give up the feeling of control. For these people, stress has become a driving force – such people often feel that they are the only person who can do their job, and they are the best at doing their job. This is often true, because they are too insecure to share their skills and knowledge with others.

Skills and knowledge sharing actually create a stronger team. With good leaders and a healthy structure, there should always be room for people to grow. People who are skilled in many areas and able to fill in when required reduce the stress in a small team, and allow for people to take regular holidays and time off as needed without concern.

Feeling overwhelmed is a normal part of working life, but it should not be a constant feeling. Creating time for yourself, balancing tasks and learning more about yourself are all productive ways to help ease constant feelings of overwhelm. (If your stress is having negative effects on your daily life and wellbeing, it is important that you seek professional help.)


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