7 Ways to Handle Overwhelming Stress

Author: Alyssa Gregory | April 22, 2021

We’ve all been there: You have a million things on your mind and it seems like half of them need your attention right now. You feel pulled in many different directions, unable to focus on any one thing at a time. You’re anxious and bogged down with stress. 

How are you going to get through this while getting things done well and on time?

If you’re interested in learning more about handling stress effectively, you’ve come to the right place. This article provides several methods for dealing with stress—and tips on handling stress when you’re working from home.

1. Make a short list

The first step in handling stress at work is to put away the massive to-do list and focus on what is most important. If you’re wondering how to relieve stress, you may find the answer you’re looking for by simply trying to focus on fewer tasks at once. 

Try making your own list of three priorities, then focus only on the top item on your list until it’s completed. If your high-priority items are too complex to complete in a day, then you probably need to break them down further into more manageable bite-size tasks.

2. Call in reinforcements

Overwhelming moments are the perfect time to lean on your support network. You may have a partner or team member who can take some work off of your plate, reducing the number of potential stressors in your day. 

For you, the best reinforcements might come in the form of people who can take on some of your non-work responsibilities (e.g., childcare, cleaning, and running errands). That way, you can focus on your work. In other cases, it might be telling your boss you need a mental health day and asking them to reassign work accordingly.

Either way, the key is to ask for help when you need it.

3. Take a breather

When things get especially tense—like when you’re putting the final touches on a presentation you have to give next week—sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away. 

One of the best stress management techniques is simply giving yourself a 30-minute break (or longer, if needed) to reset your psyche and get yourself centered. 

A break can do wonders for perspective, too. Maybe you’re getting stressed out about things that aren’t all that important.

Take a deep breath, relax, and when the time comes, you’ll be able to deliver a stress-free presentation that lives up to the high bar you set for yourself.

4. Turn up the music

Music can boost productivity, so pick some of your favorite tunes to play in the background while you focus on your three high-priority items. 

Depending on your line of work, you may find that the louder the music, the more motivated you become. The “psyching up” period usually happens in just a song or two, so you don’t need to necessarily blast the tunes all day long (thankfully!).

5. Say ‘no’ to potential new stress sources

If your stress is stemming from simply having too much to do, it may be time to start saying no more often. 

As much as you may want to do everything and be there for everyone, it’s not always realistic. When you reach the critical point when something has to give, saying no is the only option.

6. Go for a run

A good sweat can be the perfect way to reset your mood and get yourself motivated to work. Try going for a run, or a walk, or to the gym—anything that gets your blood flowing and forces you to break a sweat. That way, you can burn off some of the anxiety and come back to work calmer and more focused.

7. Wait until tomorrow

If all else fails, the answer may be in just leaving it all until tomorrow. This is especially true if you’re tired and burnt out

When you reach that point, sleep can help solve the problem. Get a good night’s sleep and come back to your list in the morning when you’re fresh and ready to go.

Once you recognize the signs of overwhelming stress approaching, any of these tips should help you rein it in and take back control. As you discover more tricks that work for you, create an emergency checklist to keep on your desk so you know exactly what to do next.

Handling stress when working from home

Work has always been a major stressor for many of us. But the pandemic compounded this reality even further. As more and more people found themselves forced to work from home for months on end — in many cases stuck with their children, too—work became even more stressful for many professionals.

Keep reading to learn some tips and tricks about what you can do to manage stress effectively when you find yourself stuck at home.

Does working from home reduce stress?

Before the pandemic, research suggested that working from home could actually be a stress reliever. Of course, there’s a massive difference between working from home when your kids and spouse are elsewhere and working from home when everyone’s packed in your house like sardines.

Luckily, handling stress in remote environments is possible with the right approach—whether you’re stuck with your family or not (more on this in a bit).

What are the challenges of working from home?

Working from home isn’t all roses — even for the employees who vastly prefer it to working in the office. 

For starters, not everyone is a self-motivated individual. When you’re working from home, you might struggle to manage your schedule and your time effectively. On top of that, some remote workers have a hard time separating their personal and professional lives. They might find themselves sitting on the couch at 10 p.m. watching a movie while thumbing through their inbox and replying to work emails.

Beyond this, working from home gives employees access to an endless number of distractions. Do I really need to take care of this project right now or can I play my guitar for 20 minutes instead? Because they’re stuck at home and miss out on the social aspect of the office, some remote employees also suffer from social isolation. too.

How do you handle stress when working from home?

The good news is that it’s possible to manage stress effectively while working from home. In fact, studies have found that remote workers can be more productive than their in-office counterparts.

You may very well be able to mimic those results. You just need the right approach. 

If you’re stressed out working from home, some tips to consider are creating a dedicated workspace that’s conducive to your productivity, establishing a morning routine, and investing in tools that can save your business time and stress

At the same time, you should also be cognizant of the fact your colleagues or employees may be struggling while working at home. To this end, make sure your business invests in communication and collaboration tools that make it easy for your team to stay connected. 

Managers may also want to think outside the box and host virtual team-building events on a platform like Zoom. For example, you might hire a chef to teach the team how to cook a meal, with everyone trying to recreate the same meal in their own kitchen.

When it boils down to it, stress is an unavoidable part of work—whether you’re in an office, at your house, or working somewhere else entirely. 

By mastering the art of handling stress and knowing how to defuse stress when it invariably rears its ugly head, you can stay productive in any working environment—much to the delight of your team, your customers, and your bottom line.

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