It's a challenge to avoid stress in the workplace. But it is possible—and extremely important—to reduce and relieve stress at work. Here’s how to get your job done without doing yourself in.
1. Reduce interruptions.
According to Forbes.com, the average worker is interrupted seven times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours a day. That can make it awfully hard to focus. Rather than always keeping your door open (both literally and figuratively), make it a practice to only check your email at scheduled times, silence your cellphone and close your office door when you are trying to focus on a project.
2. Take a deep breath.
Although we’ve heard this advice hundreds of times, and it sometimes seems a bit silly, deep breathing can combat the effects of a boss who just lit into you. So what do you have to lose by giving it a try? Try the free app Breathe2Relax, which was developed by the National Institute for Telehealth and Technology. It only takes a few minutes and is like a mini vacation (pretty pictures and soothing music) from your day.
3. Work in bursts.
According to researchers, we humans move through patterns of high and low alertness throughout the day. Carving our workdays into chunks to allow for these high and low periods can optimize productivity. Work during the period of alertness and give your mind and body regular breaks by taking snack and lunch times. Don’t ignore the need for this rest period, or your body will tell you with feelings of hunger, drowsiness or loss of focus. So how does that look, practically speaking? Maybe you work for a block of time, then take a break for a few minutes to walk down the street for a cup of tea. You then tackle your next project, followed by your lunch break. You then move your workspace to a standing location for a change of scenery and are on top of your game for another burst, followed by some deep breathing or a phone call to a friend. You get the idea. It may not always be possible, but some argue that productivity (and good feelings) soar when we follow our body’s natural rhythms.
4. Develop healthy responses to stress.
We all fail at this from time to time, but the American Psychological Association says that we should not be relying on unhealthy behaviors when stressed. That means taking a quick walk around the block instead of heading for the vending machine. Or meditating for a few moments rather than taking a smoke break.
5. Eat the right foods to reduce stress.
A study by The Ohio State University found that healthy students who received omega-3 supplements showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group. Researchers did not advise daily supplements of omega-3, but did recommend eating more foods such as salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.
6. Get organized.
Research by the University of California, Los Angeles shows that just looking at clutter raises our levels of stress hormones. Leave your workspace tidy at the end of the day to give yourself a stress-free start to the next day.
7. Take care of yourself at home, too.
The above are ways to fight stress at work, but the battle for peace of mind is won on all fronts. Exercise can help. Keeping a gratitude journal is good for you, which is not surprising, but so is chewing gum, which is quite surprising. Belonging to a church also has been shown to be good for mental health.
We all know that stress is bad for your health and your happiness. Sometimes, it’s a fight that can be won on your own. Other times, we need help. Contact us today if you’re looking for a boost in improving your physical or mental health.