According to a recent MediKeeper study, the top three things that contributed to employees’ workplace stress in 2016 were finances, family life, and feeling overworked. Have you felt one or more of these weighing on you at work? A lot of times, the things you find stressful are outside of your control. But it’s important not to let those things fester. Instead, try to make some changes in the areas you can control to combat workplace stress.
For instance, you may not have control over a helicopter boss who keeps a close eye on the status of all your projects, but you do have control over what you do with your lunch hour and whether you use that time to de-stress wisely.
To help you take advantage of the little things you can do to combat workplace stress throughout the workday, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite stress tips.
Have you ever waited until the last minute on a project with a deadline or forgotten to prepare for a meeting happening in 20 minutes? We’ve all been there. Our body responds to this fear and urgency with the fight-or-flight sensation — as it does with most stressors. This response can help you nail a presentation or finish a project with incredible focus as it gives you superhuman alertness and physical energy you didn’t know you could muster, but it’s extremely detrimental to your health when repeated. Kaniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley stated that chronic stress can result in a whole slew of issues such as memory impairment and increased chances of heart disease, obesity, and depression.
The good news is, eliminating this stressor can be simple. By keeping a clearly marked calendar and to-do list, you can always be on top of what’s coming up. You can even break down some of your bigger to-do items into bite-sized pieces so you have a better idea of how long it will actually take you to complete. And when looking at your upcoming agenda, be wary of being too optimistic. Your “can-do” attitude is a huge plus, but don’t let it trick you into thinking you can accomplish everything. Instead, look ahead and set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself and communicate those with the appropriate people. Trust us.
Get Outdoors & Get Moving
According to a study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, sedentary people are more likely to suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder in the next five years versus people who exercise regularly and with vigor. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take running marathons and doing 50 pull-ups to feel the stress-releasing effects, though. You can keep stress at bay with small physical efforts each day — bonus points if you can get outside to do them! The most recent health.gov recommendations reveal that 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity and 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity activity each week will do the trick. And research by Richard Mitchell, an epidemiologist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and others, found that getting out in nature provides such positive stimulation to your brain that it calms you down and can even help with your focus.
Try to make both physical activity and outdoor time regular parts of your workday routine. The easiest way to take advantage of this is through a corporate wellness program. Seventy percent of U.S. companies have adopted an employee-focused health program in one form or another. Check out what’s offered through your company before you look anywhere else — they may have mid-morning outdoor yoga classes, 2:00 p.m. strolls around the business park, or even personal training sessions you can sign up for during lunch hours. If you find you need to take measures into your own hands, though, try a few of our quick and easy suggestions below:
- Turn the standard huddle room meeting into a walking meeting.
- Block out 15 minutes to go outside and do some lunges, calf raises, and stretches.
- Go for a walk whenever you need to take a personal call.
- Keep a gym bag in your trunk in case there’s any opportunity to get some post-work exercise in.
Once you start experiencing nature and a bit of physical activity during your week, you’ll notice the addicting benefits of calm and peace.
Focus On You
Constantly sizing yourself up against your colleagues makes for a stress-ridden workspace. We don’t accomplish our best work when we feel stressed, so how do you ever think you’re going to “do better” than your colleagues if you’re always worrying about what they’re doing? Make sure you spend time focusing on you, your goals, your accomplishments, and how you can help have a positive effect on your workplace. You’ll find that some of your stress simply dissipates.
Eat well and drink water. It’s one of the simplest forms of stress relief that not enough people take advantage of. Instead, we do the exact opposite. What do you do when you come out of a bummer-of-a-meeting where you discover you’re going to have to revisit a project that was approved long ago? You probably gear yourself up for the long stretch of revisions with something to look forward to like a coffee, a personal pizza, and likely some chips and a soda for when you need another pick-me-up later that same day. But these choices are anxiety-inducers, which will unfortunately contribute to your stress.
Make nutritious choices to help you breeze through everyday at work, especially the hard ones. If your company has a wellness program in place, they may offer healthy snacks, deals at nearby healthful restaurants, educational sessions on diet, or even a reimbursement program for quality groceries. Workplace opportunities like these make healthy eating a little bit easier, but either way, you can find some great healthy eating suggestions here.
Write It Down
The act of writing itself can be cathartic. Write down your worrying thoughts to collect them and write down to-do lists to calmly prioritize (as well as help avoid procrastination). Writing is an ultra-effective way to reduce your stress in the moment that it’s firing up. When you start feeling sweaty palms, a mental block, a turning stomach, or a little lightheaded, grab your pen and paper and let go of what’s eating you.
Writing helps you gain perspective, too. While it’s important to take responsibility for your actions and place a lot pride in and importance on your work, it’s important to keep in mind that missing a deadline does not hold the same weight as learning about a family member’s illness. Count your lucky stars for all of the positive things in your life, and place the appropriate amount of importance on the things that stress you out.
Help Stifle the Stress of Others
Oftentimes, stress seems unavoidable, especially in an office setting where there are deadlines, challenges, and other people whose stress naturally stresses you out. In addition to our suggestions above, it’s important to remember that stress is contagious, but so is calm. You may not be able to avoid a forever-frazzled coworker, but you may be able to secretly combat workplace stress with your own calm demeanor. Going outside, eating well, getting work done, being a little selfish, and writing things down are all great ways to help you maintain your calm aura.
You Can Combat Workplace Stress
Let us know which of the above tips you tried, and how they helped you combat workplace stress.