By: Lynsey Bish
Have to stay late to make a deadline? Need that extra cup of coffee to stay focused on one task? Feeling pressured to meet expectations? Each of these questions is related to stressors in our workplace. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) conducted a study, concluding that “80% of workers feel stress on the job; nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress”.
We have all had stressful days and excessive stress can interfere with performance, productivity, and greatly impact our emotional and physical health. That doesn’t mean you’re powerless in controlling your environment and retaining mental well-being.
Here are a few tips to reduce stress in the workplace:
Reach Out – At times the best stress reducer can just be to talk it out. Face-to-face interactions can offer support, sympathy, or just an opportunity to “blow off some steam”. Having a support system at work and at home can change your environment. When you’re at work take a break. Instead of directing your attention to your smartphone or tablet, engage your colleagues. Additionally, talking it out at home with loved ones can give the feeling of lifting the stress off of your shoulders. You can get a fresh perspective while strengthening your connection.
Support Health with Exercise and Nutrition – When you’re focused on work it’s easy to forget about your health, but good nutrition will make you stronger and more resistant to stress. Just walking around for a few minutes or taking the stairs up and down a few flights can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release “feel-good” chemicals. This greatly improves your body’s ability to deal with stress. Food also impacts our stress levels throughout the day, and can make us feel sluggish. Changing your diet and eating small healthy meals will help maintain energy, keeping focus up, and avoiding mood swings.
Be Mindful About How You Sleep – You may not be aware, but if you lack sleep on a regular basis, it will interfere with you daytime productivity, creativity, problem-solving skills, and your ability to focus. The more rest you get, the better able you will be to tackle your job responsibilities and you will find it is much easier to keep your emotions balanced, one of the key factors in coping with stress at the workplace. It’s hard sometimes to break out of habits, but make an effort to get the recommended amount of sleep for adults: 8 hours. Also turn off screens! The light emitted from your smartphone, TV, and computers can suppress your body’s production of melatonin. It’s hard to break our routine before bed, but try soothing activities such as listening to ambient music, reading a book, and having the lights down low.
Turn It Up! –Everyone has a favorite artist, band, genre, etc. By creating a playlist of your favorite songs you can blow off some excess steam. Studies show that nature sounds and classical music can be particularly soothing, but if listening to a babbling brook isn’t for you, then you can listen to the music you enjoy; it’s just as effective.
Bring Your Pets to Work – This all depends on your workplace, but The International Journal of Workplace Health Management did a study and found employees who brought their dogs to work had reduced stress thought the day. Also, humans who petted a dog for 15–30 minutes experienced approximately a 10 percent drop in blood pressure, while the dogs’ blood pressure dropped as soon as the humans began petting them. A day at the office also provides more stimulation for a dog than a day spent home alone in a crate or the backyard. It’s a win-win situation for both pets and employees.
Bullet Journal – Bullet Journaling has gained a lot of press for its tendency to help adopters stay on task and organized. The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less. It has also shown that it will boost productivity, put your mind at ease, and add structure. To find out more info, check out The Bullet Journal Blog.
Wait, There’s an App for That? – With just a quick search of the app store, we are presented with a number of apps to reduce stress.
- Apps like True Stress Management can target stressors and improve your mood.
- Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock – As we learned previously, sleep affects how we are feeling in the morning and is a trigger on your emotions though the day. This alarm clock is designed to wake you up during your lightest stage of sleep. Usually we set an alarm to the time that we need to wake up; this could occur in the middle of an REM (deep sleep cycle) and leave us feeling groggy and disoriented. Available on Apple and Android.
- Headspace – This is one of the most popular guided meditation apps on the market. Meditation has proven to reduce stress, but getting started could pose quite difficult if you have no clue what you are doing. Headspace changes the game by guiding you though a variety of meditations. Available on Apple and Android.
- Pacifica – This app uses cognitive behavioral therapy, and helps to identify the actions triggering your stress and anxiety. By finding the causes of your stress, you’ll be able to address, and hopefully, eliminate them. This app has loads of extra features to help set goals and focus on managing your stress. Available on Apple and Android.
- Personal Zen – This app is clinically proven to reduce stress by playing a game! The Clinical Psychological Science Journal promised that it only takes 25 minutes to see positive benefits. How can they prove the promise? Science. It’s highly recommended that you check this one out. Sorry Android users, it’s only available through Apple.
Overall we hope that you can use these examples to reduce stress at work.