Fourteen Tips for Managing Stress at Work

Don Tennant

Judging from a lot of the reader comments I get on some of my blog posts, there's a lot of stress out there. Fortunately, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America wants to help.


A survey that ADAA conducted back in 2006 showed that even then, workplace stress was a problem. Among the findings:


  • 72 percent of people who have daily stress and anxiety say it interferes with their lives at least moderately.
  • 40 percent experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety in their daily lives.
  • 30 percent with daily stress have taken prescription medication to manage stress, nervousness, emotional problems or lack of sleep.
  • 28 percent have had an anxiety or panic attack.


If things were that bad before the recession, imagine what they're like now. So ADAA has declared that next week, Nov. 6-12, is "National Stress ut Week," and it has provided some helpful tips for managing stress at work:


  • Practice time management. Make to-do lists and prioritize your work. Schedule enough time to complete each task or project.
  • Plan and prepare. Get started on major projects as early as possible. Set mini-deadlines for yourself. Anticipate problems and work to prevent them.
  • Do it right the first time. Spend the extra time at the outset and save yourself a headache later when you have to redo your work.
  • Be realistic. Don't overcommit or offer to take on projects if you don't realistically have enough time.
  • Ask for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed, ask a coworker for help. Later you can return the favor.
  • Communicate. Speak up calmly and diplomatically if you have too much to handle. Your supervisor may not realize you're overextended.
  • Stay organized. Filing and clearing your desk and computer desktop may rank low on your priority list, but they can save you time in the long run and may prevent a crisis later.
  • Avoid toxic coworkers. Try to ignore negativity and gossip in your workplace.
  • Take breaks. A walk around the block or a few minutes of deep breathing can help clear your head.
  • Set boundaries. Try not to bring work home with you. Don't check your work email or voice mail after hours.
  • Savor success. Take a moment to celebrate your good work before moving on to the next project. Thank everyone who helped you.
  • Plan a vacation. You'll be rejuvenated and ready to work when you come back.
  • Take advantage of employer resources and benefits. Your workplace may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), discounts to gyms, or skill-building courses. Learn what's available to you.
  • Be healthy. Eat healthfully, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and limit caffeine and alcohol. Try to keep your body and mind in shape to handle challenging situations.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 4, 2011 3:31 AM Roy Lawson Roy Lawson  says:

I recently started playing guitar.  I'm not out to be a rockstar and need to relax so I find that helps.  I spend so much time on the computer and working that I need that relief.

I work at home, so that makes the "set boundaries" part very important.  It's easy for me to just keep working into the night.

Also agree on the "avoid toxic co-workers" part.  Even though I work at home, I still meet regularly with people.  Bad attitudes are destructive.  You guys all know how opinionated I am - but I really keep that under wraps and don't mix work with politics.

Anyways, you can't allow work (or politics) to consume you.

Nov 4, 2011 4:55 AM George Alexander George Alexander  says:

>>Set boundaries. Try not to bring work home with you. Don't check your work email or voice mail after hours.

This is really hard for me. But maybe it's because I enjoy work. Actually one of my routines is to check mail and other stuff before going to bed and after waking up. It helps me prepare for a busy day.

Another tip that  helps me (a procrastinator unless I am under pressure), that is sort'a mentioned above, is to make a to-do list early in the morning. For work stuff, make on it on a post it note and stick right infront of your monitor. Cross out each goal by EOD. It kind'a forces you to do things in a timely manner (#1 and #2)

  1. Take breaks.

A lit bit expounding on this - some of the seemingly complicated solutions that I've cracked after hours of breaking my head was when I go to the terrace and drink a cup of coffee and forget about work (which actually makes you think about work even more). The first time I experienced this was when I called it a day without having fixed a problem I was breaking my head on for half the hit me when I went to the parking lot and leaned against the car for a few seconds. Sometimes you just need to get away for a short time to reboot your brain.

A career tip that's helped me be more productive is to be around smarter and better people. It kind'a forces you to catch up.

>>Be healthy. Eat healthfully, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and limit caffeine and alcohol. Try to keep your body and mind in shape to handle challenging situations.

I agree with the sleep part but I'm bad with eating... I think junk food has been helping me a LOT!!! Nothing like a cold pizza and coke while your at it. And coffee is great for mornings and afternoon when you really need to wake up with eyes wide open.

Nov 9, 2011 2:42 AM Stress Tension Relief Stress Tension Relief  says:

Great post! Achieving a good balance in life is really one way of reducing stress. Fighting stress and tension also becomes easier when a holistic method is used. The thing about stress and tension is that it is more than just a physical problem. It is also a mental, emotional and spiritual problem.

I also highly recommend deep breathing. Not sure if I can post links but I'll add it just in case your readers are interested as well. I enumerated some breathing exercises here:

Nov 11, 2011 3:45 AM Sue Sue  says:

Thanks for that wonderful tips... Staying away from stress is something that everybody would want to do. The hard part is "HOW"... Thanks again!

Nov 13, 2011 4:07 AM Jawad badawi Jawad badawi  says:

Great stuff and I know it will work because i never take work home and that was just who I am, sometimes it doesn't work because my mind takes it without me recognising what's going on which gets translated to ulcer and insomnia.

However if you like what you do, you'll never feel stressed and i used to be a programmer and loved it, hours could pass after working time and i would still be programming without having any problems, yes i used to work 16 or 18 hours but never complained.

On the other side 1 hour doing something you dont like will give you ulcer and insomnia, I also think that the bad economic situation makes it more stressfull because people will have to accept any job just to feed their kids!

Nov 16, 2011 11:39 AM Jonno Fandango Jonno Fandango  says:


I recently wrote a blog about the use of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy to significantly reduce stress in the workplace:

Dec 1, 2011 10:11 AM Dana Lightman Dana Lightman  says:

Great tips!  Let me add one more, especially for dealing with difficult people over this holiday season, something that definitely intensifies stress -- Accept and Anticipate.  This means that accept that people who are difficult will continue to be difficult during holiday events.  Anticipate his or her behavior in advance and be ready for it.  This strategy helps you let go of any unrealistic ideals about what the holiday should be like and allows you to enjoy what the holiday IS.  Happy holidays!


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