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Reducing Work-Related Stress: 4 Tips for Better Balance

Posted by: The ADP Team on 18 July 2017 in Human Capital Management

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According to corporate psychology organisation, AccessEAP, work-related stress is the most common workplace issue in Australian workplaces, with 91 per cent of those surveyed admitting to being stressed at work. As organisations across Australia and the world operate in a more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment, controlling work-related stress can seem even harder and anyone can be affected. From new entrants to the workforce to the most seasoned business leaders, no one is immune from the disastrous consequences of work-related stress. 

Here are four tips to help you control work-related stress and find better work-life balance. 

1. Busy does not equal productive

Time and energy are perhaps your most important – and most limited – resources. Spending a 12-hour workday grinding through emails, meetings and calls isn’t the only indicator of high performance.  There’s an important difference between being “busy at meetings” and actually being effective or productive. Author  writes in his article in 99U: “…if you can do your job brilliantly and still leave at 3 p.m. each day, a really good boss shouldn’t object…Why should a results-focused boss even care?” You should not equate being exhausted with being productive.

Extended periods of being overworked can lead to long-term problems that will impact your career, family and health. Symptoms can include irritability, a drop in productivity, mental health issues as well as, problem sleeping. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sleep psychologist Professor Dorothy Bruck, chairwoman of the Sleep Health Foundation said, “A lot of people run at full throttle. They spend a lot of their day being quite hyper-aroused or stressed. Then, when they get home at night after work … they don’t create a buffer zone between all those demands of the day and being able to unwind and go to bed in a more relaxed state.” Professor Bruck added that people often woke during the night because they’ve taken all that stress to bed. “We think that sleep is like a tap, you can just turn it on or off – but it’s not like that at all,” she said. “Most of us can’t just switch on and off. You can’t force yourself to sleep.”A Deloitte Access Economics health survey shows that 39.8 per cent of Australians don’t get enough sleep. It estimates that this is an economic cost of approximately $66.3 billion in health bills, lost productivity and wellbeing.

As a best practice, you should choose to spend your limited time and energy on what matters most, while delegating, outsourcing or outright dropping activities that can be better managed by others (or not at all). According to the Guardian digital tools such as apps can also improve your focus, time management and output.

2. Be clear about your values

Once you have a thorough understanding of your values, you must make sure that your actions align with them. This tip will require you to reflect deeply about what is most important to you as a human being, not just as a business owner or employee. ADP Research Institute’s Evolution of Work – The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace study found that more than 80% of businesses will need to adapt to employees wanting to spend their time working on things that personally interest them or have a broader impact on society. 

While you may feel passionate about your work and be driven to achieve more, you also need to take the time to recharge, strengthen your relationships with family and friends and otherwise broaden your experiences beyond the workplace. Successful business owners and employees need to be happy with the lives they’ve built outside of work and this requires a careful and constant balancing act. 

3. Follow the Pareto Principle to reduce work-related stress

Often we get stressed when we have an important task or deadline approaching but have not completed the required work. As Forbes reports, the Pareto Principle is the famous 80/20 rule that says that 80 percent of your business results come from 20 percent of your time. When applying this to your work life, it’s important to identify the actions you take that have a disproportionate impact on value creation. It’s a good idea to do the most meaningful, value-creating work first, earlier in the day. That way, low-return ‘busy work’ won’t get in the way of your more important tasks.

4. Invest time in physical activity

By making an effort to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine, you can promote a healthy lifestyle while reducing your stress level and enhancing your decision-making skills. Make an effort to find a physical activity you enjoy, whether it’s going for a walk at lunch or playing tennis after work. Movement is vital to maintaining health and managing stress, and it can have a positive impact on your ability to be creative and generate ideas.

Reducing stress and having a healthy work–life balance is important for numerous reasons, both professional and personal. In order to maintain this balance, you must understand your core values and prioritise the activities that bring you the most worth and overall happiness.


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