Managers Guide to Handling Stress at Work

When I think of someone living stress free, I imagine someone earthy passed out in a hammock on the beach somewhere, not concerned with much else. As much as I would love to be that person, I am most definitely not the poster child for stress free living. I am not all that earthy and, much to my dismay, I don’t have a hammock on the beach. I do, however, have an interest in handling or properly managing and minimizing my stress; particularly work related stress, because it has a tendency to continually seep into my personal life. The level of stress in my personal life directly correlates to the level of stress in my work life.}

Managers Guide to Handling Stress at Work

I write this as I wrap up a particularly long week filled with typical stress inducing setbacks like travel delays and three days with 5:00 am start times. The number of mornings I wake up earlier to grab a couple extra hours of work before my family gets up directly correlates to the amount of wine I drink over the weekend. There is a lot of direct correlation going on here. In short, sometimes I need a break, a break to help reduce my ever-growing stress. While a hammock on the beach may not be readily available, there are other things I can do to get that needed break

How I Deal With Stress

In work, just as in life, not every day is going to be a peach. Some work days are harder than others, especially when they involve high stress things like managing employee annual enrollment, an important meeting with powerful board members or a new program launching, to name a few. Here are a few things I turn to in order to personally cope when work stress seems to be getting the best of me.


I generally try to meditate every day for 15-30 minutes, though some days allow for less time than others. Sometimes I will do it right away when I wake up in the morning. I just take some time to really focus on my breathing, take a few minutes and just relax for a change, clear my mind and start the day with a fresh slate. It can also work right before going to bed. Sometimes you need to take a moment and clear away the clutter of the day before you go to sleep in order to avoid having it keep you awake. No matter when or where you take time to meditate, it can be a very important part to managing your stress.


Exercise can accomplish a lot of things. Like meditation, it can be time to clear your head and refocus. It can also help to release tension or aggression you may have built up from the stresses in your life. It makes for a good, safe and productive outlet. Also, exercise produces endorphins which naturally improve your mood and make you happier. A better mood can be a step in the right direction when it comes to managing and dealing with stress.

Get Organized

I know, this is easier said than done.  Maybe it’s your email that is piling up, employee issues or an overeager hiring manager who won’t quit with the follow up. Maybe it is the stack of unorganized papers piling up on your desk or managing your calendar. Whatever it is, it seems like there are other things that are more important but what you don’t realize is that disarray is likely contributing to your stress levels. I’ve found the key to my organization is outsourcing parts of my life I loath like house cleaning and closet organization so that I can concentrate on the things I’m really great at. 

When it comes to managing my calendar, I have started using a task management system to assign me deadlines and make sure I remember when things are due. It’s not always perfect but there’s something about cross off lists on my to-dos. Whatever it is that is disorganized, sometimes the best thing you can do is just carve out a chunk of time and get it taken care of. Get organized and get rid of that stressor.

Take Time for Me

Whether it be a pedicure or a massage, I schedule these regularly in my calendar because it’s the only way it will happen. It is easy to forget about yourself when there are a lot of other things to do. That is why it is important to plan ahead and make sure these things happen on occasion. Bonus tip: My massage therapist actually comes to my home and I don’t waste valuable work time stuck in traffic or commuting.

Find a Hobby

This is a hard one for me especially since blogging and writing is now my business. Whereas at one point, blogging was a hobby or outlet, now I have had to find other outlets that are not the same as what I do for work. Currently I am working on my raised garden beds and started dabbling in photography. You should see my super moon Lunar Eclipse photography which I tested out with my telephoto lense. Whatever your hobby or creative outlet, make sure to take time for it.


All of these things offer you the ability for an instant vacation of sorts. It may not be to a beach with a napping hammock but they do allow you to get away from stress for a moment. When you do these things you are able to refresh and reenergize yourself, lower your stress levels and hit the ground running when you return to work.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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