Having stress at work? You probably are. It happens with every job. Check out these stress relief techniques for work and get control of your stress today!
Surprise, surprise! Work is one of the most common sources of stress for people. Dealing with employee conflict, poor suppliers, office politics or an unreasonable customer can be tough to deal with. Luckily, there are many simple stress relief methods you can use right now.
Some of them are even kind of fun.
The article below is full of suggestions to help you reduce stress at work. We’ve broken them down into categories to help you sort them out. They are;
- Mindfulness techniques
- Attitude adjustments
- Get out of your chair
- Food and drink
- Environmental change
- Personal work habits
Work places are different and the ideas below are meant to be diverse. Depending on where you work, some ideas will be better than others. I use many of these myself and have watched co-workers use others (that’s where the fish idea comes from below. Yes, I said fish.).
Mindful Stress Relievers
Getting your mind in the right frame is one of the best stress relief techniques you can do. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
No matter how busy you are during the day, taking 2 to 5 minutes to be mindful is a terrific way to relieve stress. Studies show meditation brings immediate stress relief and when practiced regularly, can hold off symptoms associated with anxiety. Closing your door, finding a quiet place outside, or even grabbing some privacy in the bathroom are all locations you can find a handful of peaceful minutes to bring down your stress. One of the big benefits of meditating at work is you will stress less and accomplish more.
Some workplaces bring yoga into the workplace as an employee benefit. This is a great way to relieve stress and connect your mind to your body. If you are close to a gym or a yoga studio, check and see if there are morning classes to start your day. By taking a few extra minutes at lunch for yoga, you can do wonders for your afternoon productivity.
Mindful breathing is a great stress relief technique for work. It can be done anywhere (even in a room full of people). And it’s as simple as this;
- Take a deep breath through your nose and fill your lungs and belly completely.
- Hold your breath and slowly count to five (in your mind) before exhaling.
- Exhale slowly to the count of eight.
- Push the air completely out.
Mindful breathing is a great way to achieve short term stress relief. The next time you feel anxiety coming on, try to proactively hold it off with this technique.
It’s amazing how deciding to have a good state of mind can help a person maintain balance in their life. By choosing to be positive and not over-react to a stressful situation, life just seems easier. Sure this takes some practice, but if you can get in the habit of choosing to be positive, most things in life will seem good!
Here are a few attitude adjustments to help you control stress at work.
Laugh a little.
The simple act of laughing releases stress and tension. It can actually bring positive physiological changes. Look for ways to lighten the mood at work and try to enjoy it!
Go easy on yourself.
Don’t be your own worst critic. Stuff happens and worrying about it won’t solve anything. If you need to talk to someone about an incident, get it over with. Have the conversation. The relief you feel when it passes is worth it and you’ll wish you had done it sooner.
Picture positive outcomes.
Guided imagery and visualizing are done by world-class athletes and performers all over the world. By picturing the positive, they make it easier for their vision to become reality. Why don’t we do this for our own lives? The next time you need to have a tough conversation or do a presentation at work, visualize it before you execute it. It will make it seem like you’ve been there before. And that’s a definite stress reliever!
Take a mental break.
Take a break and empty your mind. Work-life balance is an important concept. Just a few short minutes to unplug can provide positive stress relief.
If you have a job where most of the day is spent a desk, getting up and moving is important for productivity and stress reduction. Here are a few physical ideas to incorporate into your day.
Take a walk.
Exercise, even a short walk, is a terrific stress relief technique. If you can’t get outside, walk the stairs. The key is to get your heart rate up a bit. It will clear your head and make you more productive. Try to make this one a habit.
Get a massage.
Your body gets tense throughout the day, particularly in the shoulders and neck. If you can get out of the office periodically for a massage (hopefully you have benefits that cover it), your stress levels will trend in a positive direction. Even a handheld massager can do the trick.
Sneak to the gym.
Some workplaces have such a good work-life balance policy that employees can go to the gym anytime during the day. A great time to do this is right around 2pm. If you don’t have work commitments, sneaking in a 30 minute workout will help you lower stress and power through the rest of the afternoon. If you can’t get away when you want, consider noon or first thing in the morning. Exercise is an amazing stress reliever. Talk to your manager about this one.
Food and Drink
What we eat or drink can have a big impact on how we feel. In a pressure filled moment, a poor diet can compound stress and anxiety. Eating healthy can help us stay both physical and mentally fit. Here are a few tips that might help with your stress goals.
Reduce caffeine intake.
This is a tough one. We all love our drinks. But too much caffeine can make you more sensitive to stressful situations. Additionally, drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day can have an impact on your sleep at night which will further compound stress. If you need the caffeine try limiting it to the morning. If you can make the transition to caffeine free beverages, it might seriously help you better manage stress. Try lemon water instead!
Dark chocolate is a great mini-treat in small quantities. Unlike milk chocolate, studies show dark chocolate has a source of antioxidants and may even improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. But don’t go wild. It is loaded with fat and calories. Set aside one or two ounces a day and truly savor the moment. It may help you through those stressful times at work.
Swap junk for healthy.
This one should be obvious, but its hard to do. It’s too easy for us to grab a bag of chips or a chocolate bar to munch on. And sugar addiction is real. Vending machines can be a dangerous thing. The food you typically find will often increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Try bringing your snacks to work. That way you’re in control of what is availabe at snack time. A few foods that studies show may lower stress include;
- High potassium foods like avocados and bananas
- Salmon or tuna on whole grain bread (easy on the mayo)
- Crunchy veggies like carrots or celery
- 5 or 6 raw nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts)
Create a Stress-Free Environment
As best you can, add some touches to the work space that are meant to bring calm and reduce anxiety. If you share your work area, some ideas will work better with others. Talk to your co-workers. Here are some to get you started.
Music to relieve stress.
Studies show music has a definite impact on our mood. Upbeat music can make you feel better and may actually foster optimism. On the flip side, music with a slow tempo can quiet your mind and even help relax your muscles. Music can also help with concentration, leading to better productivity and performance on the job.
Aromatherapy is a good tool for stress relief because it has no known side-effects. It fills the room with a desired scent, many of which are linked to stress reduction. Aromatherapy diffusers take essential oils, mix them with water and evaporate the scent into the room. It’s an effective way for creating a good atmosphere. Some of the most common stress relieving scents include lavender, rosemary, peppermint, ylang-ylang and lemon.
Watching fish swim in an aquarium is a good way to reduce stress at work. The colors, the sound of water moving through the filter and simply watching fish swim can be an effective approach to mindfulness. This can result in reduced blood pressure and anxiety. Your workplace may not be right for a fish tank, but they are common in office settings for a reason.
Improve Your Work Habits
Work can be stressful. The way we manage our own work can add to the stress if we’re not careful. Sometimes we can control things in our work environment, and many times we cannot. But what we can control is how we approach our own duties. Here are a couple ideas to help you be in control and avoid further stress at work.
Procrastination is an Achilles heel for many people. Time management skills are an essential skill every worker should have.
Sharpening time management allows you to minimize the stress associated with deadlines. By prioritizing and planning your work well ahead of deadlines, it helps you to avoid the stress of frantically working in the last hours to complete important items.
You can say no.
High performers often become the go-to person to get things completed. This is both flattering and frustrating. It can also lead to a lot of stress. Remember, you can say no. Set boundaries between your work and the work that gets passed your way from colleagues. If your colleagues don’t have the skills do deliver their tasks, proactively create a skill-transfer plan to help them along. You don’t need to carry extra stress with extra work. Talk to your manager if you need to.
Talk to your manager.
Your boss has a direct interest in your well-being. A happy employee is a productive one. If there is stress you feel you cannot overcome, you need to let them know. Have an open discussion about your challenges and together work out an effective plan to mitigate the issues. Identify the stress you feel in the workplace constructively and point out the positive outcomes that will come with fixing the issues.
Your employer may have resources you can draw upon to help with the challenges you’re facing. This includes things like access to counseling, mental health professionals and online information. Stress and anxiety are not to be taken lightly. Use the resources made available to you. If you are not comfortable talking directly to your boss, reach out to Human Resources. They can also help facilitate the support you need and do it confidentially.
Stress Doesn’t Disappear at 5pm
When the five o’clock whistle sounds your stress doesn’t magically disappear. We often carry it with us all the way home. Here it has an impact on our personal lives and the people we care for most.
The danger is not being able to leave work at work and blending the stress with our personal lives (which has its own brand of stress). Stress can lead to long-term anxiety, a weaker immune system and blood pressure issues. Don’t compound the stress at the end of your day by over-eating, smoking or abusing alcohol.
It’s a tough cycle and this is a busy world. Try going to the gym. Go for a walk. Eat healthy. Read a book.
Whatever you choose, create positive habits to end your day. In the long-run it will improve your mood, your sleep patterns and help you tackle the realities that face you the next day on the job.
You Can Manage your Stress
Stress can be managed and it’s often not difficult. Life is too short to do anything else.
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out. And if you have any stress relief tips that work for you, drop me a line and we can share it with our readers who just might be going through the same things we are!
You can do this. Just take a breath.
All the best,