10 Tips for Managing Stress and Work Relationships

I am not a fan of the saying “Work/Life Balance.” The reality is work is a major part of life and most of us spend 40+ hours doing work things, either remote or in the office. In some organizations, when you have been working with individuals for a long time, there is a family-like unity (or dysfunction) – like it or not, work connects us. No matter your status or situation, managing stress at work is critical to your success. So, how do you successfully navigate work relationships and manage your stress levels overall?

  1. Stay Active and Prioritize Your Health – This is my #1 go-to. No matter the situation, a strength training class or long walk helps me reset. Not to mention, it’s good for your mind, body, and soul! It can be daunting if physical fitness is not already a part of your routine. I suggest starting with one attainable goal that supports either physical or mental wellness (I’ve found a 10-minute meditation before bed is a game changer – and there’s an app for that). I can talk about this subject all day, but I do have other strategies to get to.
  2. Make A To Do List and Prioritize it – It feels good to see progress and when you prioritize what needs to get done first, it often helps you focus on tackling one thing at a time. Trust me, your extreme heart palpitations will likely stop! As project managers, leveraging a kanban board helps you see incremental progress. But do what is most effective for you and your team.
  3. Communicate and Set Expectations – “No” is a complete sentence. It is ok to say “not today” or “not right now” to a coworker, or even your supervisor. If you cannot accomplish something on someone else’s timeline, let them know when you can, so they know you are committed to helping. This alleviates the weight of unrealistic deadlines.
  4. Be Honest and Transparent – You certainly do not have to spill all the beans, but it can be refreshing to be open about something going on in your life (e.g., sick child or loved one, medical situation, life changing event), especially if it impacts your traditional job routine (e.g., having to be fully remote, adjusted work hours). Often, people are more accommodating when you communicate. Assume positive intent; if it’s a healthy dynamic, your team will be supportive. And honestly, it builds trust and strengthens relationships.
  5. Be A Part of Planning and Organizational Strategy – Participate in decision-making, meet regularly with your team to discuss challenges, encourage solutions, and set deadlines. That way there are no surprises, and you are organically a stakeholder for scheduling, planning, and timelines.
  6. Leverage Your Calendar – The COVID-19 culture shift helped me with this. Do not be afraid to use your calendar to set you up for success. Schedule 15-minute meetings in lieu of 30 or 45-minute meetings, or instead of 1 hour. For small in-person meetings, maybe suggest a walk for a change of scenery. It may inspire creativity. Block time for lunch, a short health/wellness activity, or focus time so you can get work done.
  7. Leverage Flexibility – Take advantage of remote work options; let’s get away from the mindset of in-person equating to better performance. If you are communicating effectively, coworkers do not need to see you at the office to know you are still doing your job and giving it your best. So don’t fall off the face of the earth. Stay connected and accessible.
  8. Take Time Off – Most companies have a time off policy. Use it! Disconnect sometimes; you will thank yourself for it. It does not have to be an elaborate vacation. For me, a solo trip to the grocery store during nonpeak time is the best field trip ever. But if you can sneak away to an island, live your life!
  9. Educate Yourself – Reading this article (and others like it) is a great step. What works for me may not work for you; a variety of diverse perspectives is healthy. Work stress is a thing, and everyone reacts to it differently. TED Talks, podcasts, or MPUG lessons on time management, communication, productivity, and/or balancing your career and personal life are impactful. Education is key.
  10. Ask for Help –I fully believe “it takes a village” and support is critical for relationship health. I am not afraid to rely on my family, friends, and colleagues when I need it. As a colleague of mine always says, do not operate on your own island.

The bottom line is: stress is inevitable no matter what we do. The lesson learned for me was to identify what generates anxiety, as well as ways to best mitigate/manage it.

Figure out what works for you to ease overwhelm. And do your part to foster a team culture based on collaboration and success. Creating a safe and understanding culture makes all the difference and makes for healthier and happier humans.

Related Content

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude About Work (When the World Feels Like it’s Falling Apart)

Strategies for Thriving in the New Work Landscape

Less Stress Isn’t Always Best – Tips for Handling Stress as a Project Manager

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Written by Andrea Linton
Andrea Linton originally joined Edwards Performance Solutions in 2013 as the Director of Training & Development (T&D), but in 2021 transitioned to the role of People, Culture, and Education Director (PC&E). In this role, Andrea is responsible for driving the department’s mission to cultivate an organization where quality talent is recruited and retained. PC&E joins the forces of HR, recruiting, employee engagement, and training to provide insightful, people-focused initiatives and processes. As director, Andrea oversees all subsections of the PC&E department to ensure Edwards’ strong culture and core values remain at the forefront of any employee's experience. Andrea holds a Master of Science in Instructional Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Spanish from Bloomsburg University. Contact Andrea at alinton@edwps.com
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