How to conquer work-related stress

A man rubs his eyes in front of a computer at work, exhibiting signs of work-related stress.

Does your job stress you out? If so, you’re not alone. The American Institute of Stress says 80% of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half feel like they need help learning to manage that stress.1

We asked a group of our members what causes them stress at work — and what they do to find relief. From over a dozen options, these members reported their top sources of work-related stress were feeling underpaid, being overworked, having problems with coworkers, being unhappy with management and working long hours.2

Less than half of the members we questioned (43%) said their employers provided resources to help them deal with stress.2 When employers did try to help, members said the best resources were:

Results from a member survey showed that the top resources provided by employers for reducing work-related stress are flexible hours or working from home, corporate wellness programs, work-life balance, walking or exercise groups and training programs.

Other resources mentioned by members were social activities, career development opportunities and stress management. 2

We also asked members how they reduce stress in their lives. Among those polled, the top responses were getting enough sleep, spending time with family and friends, eating healthy, staying organized and taking time off from work.2

We asked members how they reduce stress in their lives. Among those polled, the top ways responses were getting enough sleep, spending time with family and friends, eating healthy, staying organized and taking time off from work.

More ways to find relief

Along with what our members shared, there are many techniques to reduce feelings of work-related stress. Here are a few additional ideas to help:

  • Stop multi-tasking. Trying to do too many things at once can add to your stress level. It can also make you less productive.3 Your brain has to refocus when it switches tasks. This makes it difficult to finish any of them.4 Increase efficiency by working on a single project until it’s done. Work on related tasks one after another to make it easier on your brain.5
  • Schedule a daily exercise or mindfulness break. Physical activity leads to the release of endorphins. These brain chemicals help you feel better and reduce stress.  Other ways to release endorphins: meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy and breathing deeply.6
  • Embrace self-care. Pick up a new hobby. Read a book. Dance. Visit a spa. Find ways to pamper yourself and block out thoughts of work until you’re back in the office.
  • Unplug. Try not to log in or check work emails, if you can. This mental break helps you approach potentially stressful situations with fresh eyes when you return to work.
  • Learn from each other. Among the members we polled, the top ways to reduce stress were to get enough sleep and spend time with family and friends. Other ideas included eating healthy, staying organized and taking time off from work.2

A little work stress is hard to avoid. But if you start to feel overwhelmed or consumed by stress, reach out for help. Talk to a friend, family member or coworker about your situation.

ConnectiCare members can get support using their behavioral health benefit, available through Optum. Call 1-888-946-4658 or visit liveandworkwell.com. The online access code is “connecticare.”

For more help coping with stress, anxiety or depression at work or at home, there are several national hotlines:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline:1- 800-799-7233
  • Hopeline: 1-800-442-4673

Find more stress-busting tips on our blog:

1The American Institute of Stress: Workplace Stress. https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress. Accessed April 16, 2019.

2Results of an online survey fielded by email to adult women and men who are ConnectiCare members from April 5-12, 2019.

3Quast, Lisa. “Want to be more productive? Stop multi-tasking.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2017/02/06/want-to-be-more-productive-stop-multi-tasking/#1b94bccc55a6. Accessed March 20, 2019.

4Blaszczak-Boxe, Agata. “Why multitasking is killing your productivity.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/multitasking-is-killing-your-productivity/.  Accessed March 20, 2019.

5Galek, Candice. “Why single-tasking is the new multi-tasking in 2018.” https://www.inc.com/candice-galek/the-real-reason-multitasking-crushes-your-productivity-and-3-ways-to-get-back-on-track.html. Accessed on March 20, 2019.

6Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st. Accessed March 20, 2019.