Stress is something that every person deals with. For most, however, the workplace is the point of origin for stress. According to a study conducted by the APA in 2011, 80% of employed individuals reported being under some type of work related stress on a regular basis. 40% of respondents admitted that they were under extreme levels of stress, and 40% said they were often burned out or stressed by their work. 25% of those surveyed said that their jobs were the number one cause of stress in their lives. Whether it’s due to workload, job security, pay rates or personal issues, chances are that work related stress affects you and your family. There are a few things you can do in order to lower your stress levels and maintain a cool head at the workplace. Here are a few tips to reduce stress at the workplace:
Breathing is one of the best ways to relieve stress. When we become stressed, our bodies release adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones which raise our blood pressure and cause that stressed out feeling, according to the Textbook of Natural Medicine. Try taking a step back, and giving yourself a breathing break. Focus on breathing deeply, and exhaling completely. Try to conjure up a relaxing day-dream while you complete this exercise, or re-live a relaxing moment.
2. Create a Calm Working Atmosphere
Surround yourself with things you enjoy. This may be a photo album of a recent vacation, a Zen garden to help you relax, or a few trinkets from home that remind you of your favorite place. No matter what it is, bringing a few loved items to your workplace to enjoy can help you escape stress during the day. Also consider bringing essential oils to work. A 2009 study by the Department of Nursing at Youngnam Foreign Language College in Korea addressed the benefits of essential oils in reducing stress. Take a sniff during high stress times, as aromatherapy has been proven to help relieve stress. Choose a few websites that have relaxing images or music, and bookmark them on your computer. Look them up during stressful days, or have them running in the background.
3. Take a Break
Unfortunately, a startling number of people skip out on required breaks in order to finish more work. This not only keeps your body at a constant level of high stress, but also makes burn-out and exhaustion more likely to set in. In fact, looking at a screen all day without a break will stress out your eyes and your body. Even if it is just a ten minute break, take it. Go on a walk around the building, call your mom, or go enjoy a small snack somewhere private. Breaks from work are essential in maintaining a healthy working attitude.
4. Connect with Others
Businesses are starting to realize the importance of co-worker connection. Many organizations are encouraging employees to start groups for socialization and interaction. This may be a lunchtime walking group, a cooking group, or a book club. If your business doesn’t have any opportunities like this, inquire at your place of work about starting one. Being able to connect with your co-workers on a non-professional level helps everyone maintain cool heads during stressful times. For instance, Google offers employees internal groups within their companes that offer specific benefits or outings to encourage interaction and bonding.
Whether at home before work, or on a break, make sure to get time in for exercise. Getting exercise is an essential part of ridding your body of stress. Try to find some time during your day to get in some exercise. The University of Maryland conducted a study in 2012 showing that exercise not only helps reduce current stress, but may help stave off future stress as well.
6. Eat Stress-Reducing Food
Even if you already eat well, consider taking an orange with you to work. A 2002 study at the Center for Psychomatic and Psychobiological Research, University of Trier, Germany found that a dose of vitamin C helps the body cope during stressful situations.
7. Think Ergonomics
Take an outsiders look at your workspace. Is your seating arrangement comfortable? Is it healthy for your body? Ask your employer about bringing in an exercise ball to sit on. While it may not be proven to help your posture, it won’t hurt it - and encourages core movement during the workday. It will also help protect your muscuoskeletal system, says a 1997 study by the CDC.
8. There’s an App for That
There are many de-stressing apps available on your phone. Download a few and use them when you feel the stress levels rising.
9. Organize Your Day
If you feel distracted or overwhelmed, write down a to-do list or a general schedule for your day. The act of actually writing down the list by hand will help you remember tasks more than typing them on a computer, and will help you organize and focus your thoughts, which will decrease stress, according to Patrick E. McLean's "Defense of Writing Longhand."