Stress! As Generation X moves toward the end of their careers and Generation Y and Z move into the workplace, we are all privy to one of the timeless headaches of the workplace: stress. Whether working in an office or in the field, stress can threaten to steal the joys that working and contributing to business and society can afford. Many studies have been done to find some tried and true ways to manage workplace stress. Try some of these tips to help quash the stress and get back to the work of work!
1- Morning Contemplation
Before the bustle of your day begins, take a few moments to contemplate your day. Take a few deep breaths, imagine your to do list and how you can navigate all of your responsibilities. Add a little pep talk about how you will successfully meet the challenges ahead, and then get up and attack your day.
2- Plan Your Day
Part of the stress of the job is often feelings of being overwhelmed. When you begin your work day, take a moment to schedule yourself. Having a list and a simple timeline will help you feel in control of the day and everything you need to accomplish.
3- Prepare Your Workspace
Whether you work in a cubicle or behind the wheel of a big rig, your workspace certainly can affect your mood. Consider adding some color to brighten your mood or maybe even bring in a houseplant. Bringing some life into your space can decrease your blood pressure, according to a study by Washington State University.
4- Focus on Time Management
As Steven Covey states in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, put first things first. Stressing about answering emails and managing the minutiae of everyday problems can be mind boggling, leaving the important things on your to do list to be postponed and mismanaged in your stressful state. Focus on accomplishing something big right out of the gate, then the other things can fall into place as you bask in some success.
Yoga is a great way to reduce stress through stretches and breathing. Yoga is believed to boost immunity, fight food cravings, and relieve stress, dedicating several poses to meditation and relaxation. Many companies have even seen the value in offering classes to their employees, boasting increased morale and productivity, and decreased health care premiums and absenteeism. Take a minute and give the Eagle Pose a try!
6- Take a Breather & Stretch
One of the biggest contributors to workplace stress can be the constant onslaught of activity. If you begin to feel the stress taking over, take a breather. Your company may not offer full yoga classes, but a simple chair stretch or stretch break can also help decrease workplace stressors. According to the American Institute of Stress, deep breathing can change your body’s physical and emotional responses to stress, allowing you to refocus and get back to work. Likewise, stretching sends impulses to the brain that can help you relax. Take a few moments to recenter your body and mind, and your stress will decrease while productivity will increase.
7- Write About It
You may not fancy yourself a writer, but keeping a journal may be one way to effectively relieve stress-related symptoms due to its meditative and reflective effects. The act of writing alone is a great stress reliever, and being able to be reflective about your day is also a great way to make positive changes in your life, both at work and at home.
8- Visit Your Workplace BFF
Having a cohort in crime, or a close friend in the workplace can allow you to take a step back from the stress and center yourself, not just as an employee, but as a person. According to a study performed by O.C. Tanner, workers who have a workplace BFF are approximately 20% more likely to feel confident and satisfied in their jobs.
Walking is something that is accessible to most anyone (and even those who are not as mobile can benefit from the movement). If you can get outdoors, the benefit is even greater because the sunshine and fresh air ads to the sense of well-being. Research has shown that spending time in the outdoors increases focus, reduces stress, & contributes to diminishing a host of mental & physical ailments. Even a quick trip around the block (or through the halls if in a building) once an hour or so has huge benefits.
While stress eating isn’t always a great idea, it can be a good idea to have a healthy snack to combat stress. “Lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response,” quoted Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the author of The Happiness Diet. Think about healthy options that will fill you up, like a banana. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, which rises during times of stress. Take a few minutes, step away from your desk, and enjoy a quick bite to recenter your nerves.
How about a cuppa? Brits aren’t the only ones who understand and can benefit from a good cup of herbal tea. Even the act of making the tea can be a stress reliever. Consider adding some Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Passion Flower for some extra stress relieving benefits.
12- Lunch Break
Many workers can be tempted to take a working lunch to increase productivity, but what you might actually be doing is adding to the stress of our workday and actually decreasing your productivity. Try to avoid a heavy lunch full of processed foods and sugar, and opt instead for a light meal away from your desk that will leave you feeling refueled and ready to meet the needs of the afternoon.
13- Power Nap
It seems sometime around kindergarten most people believe they need to grow out of napping, but a quick power nap can actually be a great way to relieve stress. Many Mediterranean and Central American countries regularly employ afternoon siestas, and have seen longer life expectancies and lower levels of heart disease. If your workplace isn’t on board with a full on nap, try to find a quiet place for some meditation and deep breathing to see some of the same benefits.
14- Afternoon Mental Break
That 2 o’clock feeling has been marketed by many energy drink companies, and does seem to have some effect on many workers dealing with workplace stress. If you find yourself ready to drop midway through the afternoon, take a few minutes to regather your thoughts and refocus them on the tasks at hand. A quick walk around the block, a stretch, or a chat with a friend is a great way to recapture your productivity and alleviate your stress for the homestretch.
So many employees find themselves working on a computer day in and day out. The very act of staring at a computer screen can be a major stressor. Uninterrupted computer use has been associated with stress, lost sleep and depression in women, according to a study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Try to find computer alternatives to break up your day, allowing you to unplug and de-stress.
16- Take Time to Laugh
A viral video, a funny story at the water cooler, or even some silly memes can break up your stressful day. Laughter is a proven stress reliever; scientifically proven to actually be the best medicine! Laughter relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, releases endorphins, protects the heart, burns calories, and may even help you to live longer.
17- Think Through Your Stress
It may seem too obvious, but take the time to really think about what your sources of stress are at work. What can you control, and what do you need to let go? Once you have an idea of what is really causing your stress, how can you manage it in a way that brings less stress back on you? You might be surprised how taking the time to really label your stressors makes them easier to manage.
18- Talk Through Your Stress
Thinking through your stressors is a great way to work them into manageable issues, but if your brain isn’t allowing you to see the forest for the trees, a workplace friend or even a friend outside of your profession might be able to help you talk through the situation. In this tip you can get both the benefit of the fraternization and the added expertise about the situation to reign in those stressors.
19- Release Control
We all know that there are situations in life that are outside of our control, but knowing that and truly letting go can be very different things. If a situation outside of your control is causing you to be wracked with stress, it is imperative that you find a way to let it go.
20- Understand Yourself
Is a full inbox enough to send you into a stress induced coma? Does a messy desk make you feel anxious? Knowing your own triggers and managing them is a great way to decrease stress in the workplace. Solve the problems that are giving you the most anxiety straight away so that you will be better equipped to take on the rest of your day.
21- Play Music
Many times people think about listening to classical music to calm their nerves, which is certainly a great choice! But if classical music isn’t your jam, any kind of music that you like can be a stress reliever. Choosing songs that make you feel happy and positive, whether it is a piano solo or an upbeat pop tune, will fill your brain with positive neurochemicals to combat stress. Don’t think your office mates will appreciate your choices? Pop in some headphones or even just hum a little ditty to yourself to get you through the day.
22- Take a Step Back
When your day is taking a particularly stressful turn, take a step back. Turn away from your desk, close your eyes, take a deep breath, clear your mind. It is amazing what just stepping away from the stressors can do for your mood. Need a little more? Step out, splash some water on your face, look out the window, and take a moment to relax. Your stress will diminish and your productivity will increase.
Aromatherapy may seem like a new fad, but it has actually been around for thousands of years. Jump on the essential oil bandwagon and set up a diffuser in your office, or even find some oils to wear on your person to reduce stress. Scents like lavender, peppermint, and rosemary have been proven to reduce stress and even increase productivity.
24- Focus on the Present
According to a study performed by Harvard Women’s Health Watch, there is evidence that mindfully focusing on the present, rather than the past or the future, can relieve stress and alleviate stress related health problems. As the old adage says, “The past is history. Tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.” Focusing on living in the present can help you reframe negative thoughts and tackle tasks one at a time.
25- Get outside
A study conducted in Florida entitled Healthy Workspaces indicates that as workday nature contact increased, perceived stress and generalized health complaints decreased. That is to say, getting a little fresh air and sunshine can go a long way to decreasing workplace related stress. Whether on your lunch hour or stealing a few moments mid morning or mid afternoon, a natural refresher is a great way to combat workplace stress.
26- Step Away from the Cell Phone
Being available 24/7 via cellphones has been proven to raise blood pressure and increase stress, because people feel the need to know and convey answers instantaneously. When you are working, turn your phone on silent, place it in a drawer, or turn it off altogether. This will help you focus on the tasks at hand and decrease feelings of being overwhelmed.
27- Chew Gum
Feeling a little stressed, but no time for a quick snack or herbal tea break? Try popping a piece of chewing gum. It may seem like a small thing, but according to research from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia participants reported lower levels of anxiety, an improvement in alertness and performance, and overall lower stress.
28- Remember Why You are Here
Why are you at this job in the first place? Whether you are pursuing the career of your dreams or working at a job that just pays the bills, focusing on the positives of what brought you to this job can help recenter your thoughts and lessen stress. What is it about this career that inspired you to take it on? Helping others? Passionate about a business or product? Making enough money to support your family, or offer your kids dance lessons or vacations? Taking a moment to reflect and appreciate the job you have will decrease the stress you are feeling in the daily grind.
29- Leave Work at Work
This tip may seem impossible at times, but as often as you can leave your work at the office. Taking a moment at the end of the workday to decompress and then leaving all of the stress of the job at the job site is crucial to saving your sanity. Also, knowing that you will have a work free, and hopefully stress free, evening can help ease your mind during the work day. Make sure that you give yourself a light at the end of the tunnel of a long workday.
30- End of the Day Reflection
Taking time at the end of your day to day to determine what worked and what didn’t is a great way to be better prepared the next day. Give yourself a moment to celebrate your successes and think about how you can improve things that might not have gone your way.