3 Steps to reduce anxiety & stress at work

high-performance coaching life coaching stress management wellness in the workplace Jun 14, 2022

We will feel negative emotions when we don’t feel in control. This can come from a lack of control of our time or our workload for example.

Mindfulness is the not-so-secret weapon to tackle stress & anxiety, especially breath-work, but this article will focus on expectational and boundaries to have a quick impact on reducing anxiety.  

Step 1 - Define your maximum workload 

Often we don’t feel in control of our time, yet alone our workloads which we may not have chosen ourselves. While we can’t control how much we get asked to do, we can control how much we accept to take on.

Defining tangible ways to make your workload explicitly visible will help you and your Manager get a realistic picture of how overworked you may be so you can find a solution together.

You could us spreadsheet to prioritise a to do list with due dates or use your calendar to show that your tasks don’t fit into a working week. When we can’t fit our to do list in our calendar, it means some things need to change, move or be delegated elsewhere.

The chunking technique explained in this video is a great way to manage your time, energy and headspace to batch similar task together for effectiveness.

By making your workload tangible, you can reassure yourself that you are not making this up and there is a real problem here and step out of victim mode. It also helps you quiet the inner dialogue which you may be beating yourself up with like: I am not good enough; I should be able to do it all etc … which aren’t helpful in anyway.

Step 2 - Set boundaries  

I hadn’t heard of boundaries until I had a burnout. Boundaries are another word for limits to create a safe space for ourselves. We will all have different boundaries to create a space where we know we can perform at our best. Some may be socially understood, some may be more extreme and less understood. Either way our feelings are our truth, and we need to honour what makes us feel safe. The key is surrounding ourselves with people who will be accepting of this. 

The Process Communication Model® personality inventory will give you a short cut in understanding what those could be for you depending on your personality type.

For some people, it is having control over how they manage their time, for others it how good they feel, for some it is feeling valued and respected for their work. All these factors can become boundaries to decide if your working conditions are aligned with what energises you, because without energy we can perform well.

Accepting we can’t do everything, and that it is ok to say no, is one of the biggest limiting beliefs I hear in clients on the verge or in burnout. Sometimes, it is a matter of saying no, not right now and proposing another deliverable date.

No one will know better than you if you are over max capacity. It is therefore your responsibility to voice it. And it is the responsibility of your Manager to be able to hear it without negative implication to support you on finding a solution for the good of your company and yourself.

Step 3 - Respect your boundaries 

Some people will find setting and respecting their boundaries easier than others based on personality types. For those eager to please and be perfect it can be harder to say no. Being self-aware of this is key to stopping yourself in getting in your own way. You are not helping yourself, nor your Manager when you say yes to things you know you won’t be able to do. On the other side, some may be very good at this, and enforce their ways on others in a far too rigid way. Like anything in life, adjustment is needed to adapt to the situation or person in front of us for a healthy balanced outcome and relationship. 

Call To Action

Check-In with yourself

On a scale of 1/10 how do you quantify your max capacity. What does 10 look like? And where are you now on that scale? What number would be more reasonable to be at your most productive? How can you get there? What would need to happen? These are the things worth reflecting on before taking it to your Manager. Managing workload is a co-responsibility between you both. It doesn’t have to sit all on your shoulders, nor does it sit all on the Manager's.

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