While career pressures (and personal expectations) may push you to spend more time working than you would like, experts say that maintaining as much control as possible over your schedule may be one of the best ways to mitigate stress. “Control is a resource people can use to manage demands,” said Fenwick. Control over one’s schedule allows for a better balance of personal needs, family needs and work life.
4 Talk to your boss
A lot of advice aimed at helping people to reduce job stress essentially amount to “treating the symptoms of job stress, and not getting at the cause,” Fenwick said. To truly address job stress, look at its root cause, he said. “If you have the resources, negotiate with your supervisor,” Fenwick said. For example, people can say, “certain aspects of my job are stressful, are there ways I can reduce this?” Unfortunately, at some workplaces, this may not be possible, so at the very least, try to find an ally in your office, he said.
3 Choose a family-friendly employee
When possible, work for an employer that understands that your job is not your only commitment in life is a good way to help reduce the pressures that will inevitably exist between work and family, Fenwick said. Look for an employer with childcare on the premises, if possible, or telecommute when you can, he said. But Fenwick warned that there is sometimes a stigma in taking advantage of such perks. “A lot of women won’t take those benefits because they signal that their career isn’t as important, and men won’t take them at all because, in a professional and managerial sense, you want to show that you’re committed to your career,” he said.
2 Use personal time to relax
Don’t just zone out in front of the TV, use some of your personal time to try relaxation techniques. Listen to relaxing music, get a massage, or try focusing on a calming visual image — all of these activities have been shown to significantly reduce stress levels, said Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami. While it would be great to get a massage every day, it’s not financially practical for most people, Field said. But people can look for ways to reduce stress that are easier on the wallet.
1 Take a break during the work-day
Remember those massage techniques? Don’t just do them during your own time, take a break during the workday and treat yourself to a short massage, Field said. In one study, participants who spent a few minutes in a massage chair during work. These participants felt more alert and stress-free afterwards, and performed better. A hospital in Hollywood, Fla., that created a “peace room,” where people could go to relax for a few minutes during the day, was highly successful, and may have helped the hospital achieve the ranking of one of the top four U.S. hospitals for service to patients, Field said. Other workplaces could do the same, she said, or add a massage chair to the office. To make such options cost-effective for companies, employees could pay $1 for their time in the chair, she said. Working in an environment that doesn’t stigmatize family life could help ease those stresses.