Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace

For Employees - How Employees Can Reduce Stress

The combination of organizational change and individual stress management is often the most useful approach for preventing and addressing stress at work. Personal adjustments can help reduce stress levels as well as decrease the negative effects that accompany stress.

Ways to Reduce Stress
The following personal tactics can reduce the effects of job stress:


Relationships

  • Balance between work and family or personal life
  • A support network of friends and coworkers
  • A relaxed and positive outlook

Manage Your Workload

  • Learn how to say "no"
  • Make the most out of workday breaks
  • Take control of your environment
  • Cut down your to-do list
  • Adjust your standards
  • Set aside relaxation time
  • Be assertive
  • Use time management
  • Balance your day by prioritizing your tasks in the morning
  • Share responsibilities, and ask for help
  • Rank and prioritize your problems; take one problem at a time
  • Discuss concerns and problems with friends and people you trust

Focus Your Energy

  • Avoid hot-button topics
  • Avoid people who stress you out
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Don't try to control the uncontrollable
  • Look for the upside 
  • Share your feelings
  • Learn to forgive
  • Reframe problems
  • Look at the big picture
  • Focus on the positive
  • Do something you enjoy every day
  • Keep your sense of humor

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Reduce caffeine and sugar
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
  • Get enough sleep

Why is a Healthy Lifestyle Important?
Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.  Aerobic exercise helps release pent-up stress and tension.
Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. Reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet will help you feel more relaxed and sleep better. The temporary "highs" from caffeine and sugar often end in with a crash in mood and energy.

Avoid tobacco, alcohol, drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary and the long term effects can be severe. Unhealthy habits such as smoking can increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and other health ailments. Don't avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.


Get Involved in Your Union

The union can play a very important role in helping to reduce the amount of job stress that their members experience. They are able to negotiate contract language and also promote joint labor-management initiatives for addressing workplace stress. 
A union reduces job stress because it will:

  • Meet regularly with employees to boost morale
  • Enforce contract provisions
  • Sit down with management to discuss employee concerns
  • Demand that supervisors are properly trained and experienced
  • Negotiate more training for workers
  • Negotiate better work design
  • Push harder for better safety provisions, such as good ventilation
  • Provide a complaint box for employees
  • Provide counselors for worker consultation
  • Provide stress awareness and coping skills classes for workers

How much job stress do you have? Take this quiz and find out: Stress Quiz.
For more tips about reducing job stress, explore this list of resources.