Beyond a micromanaging boss and looming deadlines, there are many subtle yet insidious contributors of work stress.

Eliminating work stress completely may not be possible but pinning down the sneaky contributors of stress and kicking them to the curb can improve your day and maximise your work performance.

On top of this, there could be more than work that's contributing to unnecessary stress.

From mess to work stress

If you’re the sort to regularly use the term “organised chaos” to justify the fact that you no longer know what colour your desk is, well, we’ve got bad news.

Researchers at UCLA have found just merely looking at clutter can kick-start your body’s production of stress hormones. Your mess has probably taken some time to build up but it won’t take long to undo. Throw out outdated material, scan and keep soft copies of what you may need in the future and put your stationery into the drawer. Make sure to clear your virtual desktop of unnecessary icons and folders as well to reduce stress at work.

Friction at the office

Relationships with co-workers can sour due to issues like differences in working styles or just plain impatience. Whether it’s constantly tip-toeing around them or wondering if they are holding back your progress, combat this source of work stress before it eats away at your mental and physical well-being or affects your work performance. Co-workers can be a great source of support at work so try to put aside your differences and bridge the gap.

Schedule a time to hash things out with the other party privately. Even if the prospect of doing so is daunting, a frank but respectful chat can improve the situation which in turn will take a load of unneeded stress off your shoulders.

You. Yes, you.

Many of us are fond of using the refrain, “I’m sooo stressed!” at work but it is possible that we can be our own sources of stress too. Everyone has their own unique stressors and thresholds but some are more prone to anxiety or over-worrying. Stress can manifest itself in a variety of health issues, such as digestive problems, insomnia, headaches and skin problems like eczema. These health problems will definitely cause your existing stress levels to rise.

Avoid a toxic cycle of worry and self-sabotage by managing your time well, accepting that (some) mistakes are part of learning, and reminding yourself of the reasons why you chose your current career. Tackle one task at a time to prevent being spread too thin.

Workplace envy

Feeling inadequate because you can’t afford the same lifestyle choices as others around you is unhealthy, and not worth the resulting stress. Constantly wondering how your teammates can afford their branded bags or their sleek cars isn’t productive, and can stress you out unnecessarily.

Instead, consider what you should be doing to improve your own career in order to fill truly satisfied and happy. Be contented with what you have and work harder towards your goals, for yourself and no one else.

No time for family

Home is supposed to be a sanctuary where we unwind. But often, many of us are struck with feelings of guilt the moment we get home because of the amount of work left to be done at the office. There’s also the guilt that comes with not spending enough time with our parents, partners or children.

These negative feelings will eventually take their toll on your mental health and create more stress.

Instead of wallowing in guilt and regret, work towards spending less time in the office by speaking to your boss, exercising better time management or delegating some work away.

Also, don’t forget to leave any work stress at the office so that you can spend real “quality time” with your family at home.