The ability to cope with stress is a crucial professional skill, as chronic stress can increase the chances of mistakes, interpersonal conflict, and poor morale that end up causing even more stress. Workplace stress is unavoidable at times, but if left unchecked, it can negatively affect your overall well-being. Check out these five ways to handle stress at work:

1. Communicate with Your Boss to Clarify Expectations

If you have an ever-growing workload where everything seems urgent, rather than getting frazzled, talk to your boss. Ask about their expectations, so they can tell you which tasks to prioritize and which ones can wait. Do not assume they realize your workload is too heavy and want you to figure it out anyway - communicate instead of immediately stressing.

2. Be Proactive with Planning Your Day

A constant reactive state, in which you respond to situations as they arise, will make you stressed due to feeling out of control. Empower yourself and be more proactive with planning your day. Decide on your most important tasks, and give them most of your attention. This way, each day, you know you are truly making progress on something that will get results.

3. Slow Down and Focus

Multitasking can make you feel like you are being productive, but it is actually a major contributing factor to stress. Instead, slow down and focus on one task at a time. You will have more to show for your effort (i.e., one fully completed task rather than several in-progress ones), and will not be so mentally fatigued from constantly switching gears.

4. Take Better Breaks

Handle stress at work by caring for your well-being. Take better, more intentional breaks. Get up from your workspace and get some steps in. It will get your blood flowing and stimulate the release of your brain’s mood-elevating chemicals. You could also do a quick meditation or simply do some breathing exercises to get yourself into a calmer state before you return to work.

5. Avoid Interpersonal Negativity

Misery loves company, so too much engaging in venting with your coworkers can get you caught in a cycle of complaining without working on solutions. The more you air your grievances, the more you will reflect on them and continue feeling upset. Avoid interpersonal negativity at work, and keep your conversations positive to reduce your stress.

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