Work can be a stressful place, with many demands on your time and energy. If you experience too much stress at work, however, it can lead to diminished performance and unhappiness. It’s important, therefore, that you minimize the stress you experience as much as possible. Luckily, you can make your work life less stressful. Here are 10 tips for doing just that:
Stress at Work: Can this be avoided?
Meditation doesn’t have to involve sitting on a cushion for an hour saying “ohm”. In fact, you can meditate for short intervals throughout the day. Sit at your desk, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Do this for 30 seconds, one minute, or five minutes – however long you desire. Scientists have proven the physical and emotional benefits of meditation, and you’ll be surprised how after even a short meditation session, your outlook will be improved and you’ll be ready to face whatever task is at hand.
2. Stay Positive
When you’re right in the middle of a crisis, sometimes you’ll want to engage in negative banter with your colleagues about how miserable you are and how difficult the situation is. Resist this urge, however. Psychologists have shown that the more we engage in negative thinking and negative talk, the more we’ll suffer the effects of negativity. Levels of harmful stress hormones like cortisol peak when we are stressed, and negative talk increases the output of these hormones. That old saying, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, actually holds up.
3. Grow Plants
It might seem strange, but a bit of greenery in your office can help make you feel calmer, happier, and less stressed out. Think about easy-to-grow plants, such as philodendrons and peace lilies. Arrange them throughout your cubicle, on your desk, and around your shelves. Luckily, most offices have good, bright florescent lighting, so your plants will be happy and healthy. Looking at your plants, watering your plants, and talking to your plants will all help you to feel better, resulting to reduced stress at work.
4. Eat Healthy Snacks
Having healthy snacks on hand to eat in times of stress can work wonders. Try keeping a small bag of walnuts or pecans, for instance, since nuts can be both filling and calming. Also, try keeping dried fruits, granola bars, yogurt, bananas, or other snacks. And avoid candies, cookies, donuts, and other foods that will cause your blood sugar – and your mood – to spike.
Reduce stress at work: Let’s drink tea!
5. Drink Calming Teas
A variety of herbs, such as chamomile and valerian, can help ease anxiety and stress at work. Keep several varieties in your desk and make a cup of tea to drink while you’re working. Drinking a nice, warm cup of tea will make you feel calmer and more able to take on the day.
You might not have time during the workday to take off for 30 minutes and exercise in the gym, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a work out. When you feel stress at work coming on, head out for a brisk walk around the building. Or, if that’s impossible, just go climb a flight of stairs or two. The exercise will get your heart pumping and will make you feel better almost instantly. You’ll be surprised at how much a bit of exercise can improve your mood and your outlook.
Sometimes, taking a few minutes to write in a journal can help you feel better and gain a new perspective. Write about what’s bothering you, how you feel, why you’re stressed out. When you write, you’ll be processing the situation, and after a few minutes, you’ll feel a sense of calmness and a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. You don’t have to be a great writer, since no one will see your journal besides you. So feel free to write whatever you’d like. You’ll find that the process of writing is a great stress reliever.
8. Don’t Feel Trapped
Remember, you don’t need to keep the job you’re in. If it really is too stressful, you can always get another job. The more you remember that your job isn’t the only job in the world, the less stressed out you’ll be when things don’t go exactly right. Keep your resume up to date, look at online job sites, and network with colleagues and friends. Sometimes when we have a job, we tend to think we have to have that job, and no other. That kind of all-or-nothing thinking can lead to increased stress, so it’s important that you keep your options open.
9. Be Honest with Yourself and Others
Honesty can help ease stress at work and anxiety because you don’t have the added worry of keeping a secret. If you’re upset that you haven’t gotten a raise in two years, set up an appointment with your boss to discuss the matter openly and honestly. Letting resentment fester is a recipe for stress, and it isn’t good for your mental or physical health.
10. Don’t Try to Do Too Much
Yes, we live in a culture that praises multitasking, but sometimes trying to do too much leads to stress and anxiety. You know what you can handle, and you know when you’re stretched too thin. Listen to the voice inside that tells you when to slow down. Often, it works best to do one thing at a time, and to do it well, rather than to do 10 things but not do any of them very well. Make a to-do list each day, and systematically go through that list, doing one item at a time. By the end of the day, with perseverance, and dedication, you’ll have done each item and done it well. And you won’t be under nearly as much stress as you would have been had you tried to tackle everything at once.
Extreme stress needn’t be a part of your daily life. If you focus on eliminating stress at work and easing anxiety, you’ll find that your work life can be happier, more productive, and more fulfilling than you ever thought possible.