4 Steps for Coping with Work-Related Stress

April is National Stress Awareness Month, as if we needed a month to recognize that we’re stressed out! While the ad industry certainly has its benefits, it can also be a breeding ground for anxiety due to its high-pressure nature.  And the long-term effects of stress on the body aren’t to be taken lightly—depression, high blood pressure, and heart problems are just a few of the conditions that can develop as a result of chronic stress.  But before you despair, here are a few things you can do to increase your peace of mind.


1.     Identify Your Stressors

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But if you’re anything like most of us, you might not even be aware of the specific situations or events that cause you to stress.  Pick a normal workweek and take time to note your stressors.  The first step to reducing anxiety is knowing what causes you react negatively.


2.     Replace Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Chances are that you’ve been turning to some pretty unhealthy behaviors in order to deal with stress.  Over- or under-eating, excessive drinking, smoking—whatever your vice, it can do more long-term harm than good.  Try replacing these coping mechanisms with positive ones.  Regular exercise has been shown to up your brain’s concentration of norepinephrine, which helps your body better respond to everyday stressors.  Practicing your hobbies, from crafting to reading, can also help combat stress.  By entering “flow states,” or periods of deep concentration, your mind is so occupied with the task at hand that there is no room left for worrying.


3.     When in Doubt, Try an App

So you’ve identified your stressors, you’ve picked up running, but what happens when you encounter a stressful situation during work hours?  How do you keep yourself from reacting negatively?  If you’re in need of a quick dose of calm, there are plenty of apps out there to help you with everything from guided meditation to tracking your mood.  These tools can be a big help when facing down a tough client or short deadline.


4.     Don’t Isolate Yourself

People are social creatures.  While your first instinct may be to isolate yourself when you’re stressed, spending some time with your friends or family can actually benefit you.  Socialization has been shown to boost oxytocin levels, which helps us bond with others, and which in turn can reduce anxiety.  The people you love can even help put your stress in perspective.  Maybe what you're worrying about isn't such a big deal after all.


So there you have it!  While stress will never be eliminated from the ad world, there are certainly ways to combat it.  How do you deal with stress?  Share in the comments below!