Fifty-eight percent of women feel stressed at work, a new study suggests. Here are expert tips on how to manage mental health in and out of the office.
Self care is the best care.
Fifty-eight percent of women reported feeling stressed at work more than half of the time, according to a new workplace study by Glamour magazine in partnership with health and wellness site Thrive Global and pollster SurveyMonkey.
The study polled more than 1,300 women about how mental health issues—theirs or a colleague’s—impact their careers and workplace happiness. Fifty-three percent of women said they don’t feel comfortable talking about a mental health concern with others, and only 14% said they would talk to someone in their office if they felt anxious or depressed. What’s more, 28% said their mental health struggles affected their ability to perform on the job.
“Women are probably more stressed because they have different responsibilities they’re having to juggle, particularly if they have a significant other or child,” corporate psychologist Patricia Thompson tells Moneyish. “They also tend to take on the ‘housework’ at work, like taking notes at a meeting or cleaning out the fridge … they have expectations all over the place, and that’s aside from the obvious stress from sexism.”
While there are a number of outside factors that can contribute to feeling stressed on the job, some women say not knowing how to manage the deadlines and excessive workload are the problem.
Tiffany Catalano, a 24-year-old from Yorktown, N.Y., works in a psychiatric hospital she says is understaffed. So dealing with added workload of writing up progress reports and managing twice as many patients makes staying zen at her job difficult.
“It’s so busy that we have to miss our breaks sometimes,” says Catalano, who says she’s had to ask for help when she needs it.
“If a situation or circumstance is too overwhelming, I have another coworker help me while I take a breath and refocus myself,” she adds.
Here are some expert tips to on how to cope with stress in and out of the office:
Get up. Sitting for hours can get physically and mentally isolating and exhausting, leaving us feeling tired and unmotivated; not to mention, it’s very unhealthy.
“When you sit at your desk and are surrounded by to-dos, meeting requests and reminders, just sitting there can be overwhelming,” Sarah Levey, co-founder of the yoga practice Y7 Studio, says.
Standing up can actually help you accomplish more. A recent study from Flexjobs.com found that 66% of people felt more productive with a one-hour increase of standing time, while 71% of people felt more focused.
“Get up and take a walk — all you need is five to 10 minutes. Or if you can’t actually leave the office, try taking a call in the hallway, or send emails from the conference room for a little. That space and little change of scenery will help clear your head,” she adds.
Speak up. Knowing when to say “no” to an assignment if you feel like you don’t have the bandwidth is a must when managing stress, experts say. Otherwise, you’ll end up resenting the work you’re doing — and your boss.
“A lot of times women are less likely to set appropriate boundaries or say ‘no,’ and they end up taking on more than they can handle,” says Thompson.
“As a result, they can feel resentful and overwhelmed, but they might not have spoken up for themselves,” she adds. “Talk about the current priorities and workload you have and say, ‘Realistically, I have this, this and this, and I don’t know if I can meet all of those deadlines. Which is most important, so I have better sense of how I can allocate my time?”
SEE ALSO: What you can learn from Kirsten Dunst about saying no at work
Meditate. Taking time to sit still, focus on your breathing and pay attention to the present can reduce stress and anxiety. Harvard studies show that people in meditation programs used 43% fewer medical services than they did the previous year, saving on average $2,360 per person in emergency room visits alone. That could translate into health care savings of anywhere from $640 to as much as $25,500 per patient each year.
Basu Ratnam, founder of the New York City-based fast-casual Indian restaurant Inday, holds mandatory meditation sessions each day for employees at his eateries, incorporating both silent and active mindfulness practices. In addition to silent meditation for five minutes, shift managers hold a mindfulness practice, like having employees turn to their neighbor, make eye contact and tell them something about their present self, such as, “I am a mother,” or “I am a chef.” Then their partner will recite something about themselves back.
“The intention is to feel a level of connection with the rest of the group,” says Ratnam. “Our whole thing is about acting with intentions. You are in control of your day your mood,” he says, adding that he’s noticed employees leaving the sessions in better spirits.
When it comes to finding time to meditate, Thompson says just two minutes in the office or an entire half hour at home can work wonders.
“Ideally, first thing in the morning could be great to get your day started, but pragmatically, the best time to do is is whenever you can do it,” she says. “The key is just committing to a time, and knowing that’s your time so can create a habit around it.”
Breathe. It sounds simple, but taking a minute to actually breathe has an instant calming effect, experts say.
“Before you go into a conference or something that’s stressful, take a few breaths, inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for the same amount of time to slow down your breathing,” Jamie Scher, owner of Namaste yoga studio, suggests. “Your breath tells your brain everything is okay. If you’re breathing slowly, your brain is saying, ‘we’re in control.’”
If you have extra time and money to spend after work, consider checking out a dry salt room, a natural therapy popularized in Europe and Russia. The holistic treatment is said to detoxify the respiratory system and promote better breathing, sounder sleep and overall wellness. People pay $35 per session at Breathe, a salt therapy studio, to lounge on lay-back chairs and listen to soothing music while breathing in salty air surrounded by tiny particles of pink Himalayan sea salt.
Get off Slack and actually slack off. Taking a minute to laugh or socialize with co-workers at the coffee machine can release some much-needed tension, Thompson says.
“When we feel support, and we have good relationships with others in the office, it can help us deal with the stress,” Thompson explains, adding, “Things that can help boost your mood, whether it’s seeing a cat video on YouTube or whatever can make you laugh, will get some good endorphins going through your system.”
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