It's not unusual to experience some workplace stress here and there. This especially holds true during periods when things are particularly busy or when multiple deadlines loom.

Still, it's hard to ignore the fact that employee stress levels on a whole are on the rise. In fact, they've climbed nearly 20% over the past three decades. According to consulting firm Korn Ferry, workers today are stressed for a variety of reasons that run the gamut from technology changes to increased workloads to conflicts at the office. And let's not gloss over the single greatest source of workplace stress: difficult managers.

Woman leaning back in chair and holding her head with man and woman next to her


The problem has gotten so bad that 76% of employees say that job-related stress has negatively impacted their personal relationships, while 66% claim they've lost sleep because of work stress. If your stress level at work seems to be going nowhere but up, it's time to get ahead of the problem before it impacts not only your performance, but your personal life. Here are a few ways to start.

1. Get organized daily

One reason why so many workers fall victim to stress is that they feel like they're constantly being pulled in a million different directions. If this sounds like you, make a point of spending your first few minutes of each workday getting organized. Take a look at your calendar to see what your meeting schedule looks like and set your priorities for the day so you know which tasks to tackle first. Doing so will enable you to make the best use of your time, thereby taking one source of on-the-job anxiety off the table.

2. Keep your skills current

In an age of automation, many workers fear that they'll become obsolete. Others struggle to keep up with new technology as it's rolled out. If either scenario applies to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is work on keeping your skills up-to-date. That could mean learning new software, taking courses, or renewing the certifications you hold. The more of an effort you make, the less you'll have to worry about losing your job to a robot or falling behind your peers.

3. Build a support system

Having a solid support system at the office can make your days less stressful. That's why it's important to work on building relationships with your colleagues if you haven't made an effort to do so already. The more you get to know one another and work well together, the more you'll be able to help each other through those rougher patches.

4. Allow yourself to take breaks

It's easy to get stressed when you feel trapped at your desk without so much as a minute to catch your breath. If you're not in the habit of taking breaks during the workday, doing so could really help ease some of the tension you might be experiencing, so to this end, start carving out time for lunch or schedule a mid-afternoon walk as a recurring break on your calendar. It could change your outlook for the better.

5. Get plenty of sleep

Most American workers don't get enough sleep on a regular basis, and when you show up to work groggy and exhausted, it can cause your stress levels to skyrocket. The solution? Make more time for sleep in your schedule. Cancel social plans if doing so enables you to go to bed earlier, and ignore your work emails if they tend to keep you up late at night. Taking care of yourself physically will go a long way in helping you avoid stress in the first place.

Workplace stress is sometimes unavoidable, but you can keep yours to a minimum by taking the above steps. And that, in turn, could have a positive impact on not just your job but your life as a whole.