15 Ways to Reduce Stress at Work
You can’t always control the things happening around you at work, but there’s a lot you can do to mitigate the impact of it on your stress level. Here’s 15 quick tips that you can use to start reducing your work-related stress.
1) Work on one thing at a time.
When you’re overwhelmed with things, it can seem like you have no other option but to multi-task! However, the reality is that you’re actually creating more work for yourself because we work much less efficiently when we are multi-tasking. It is much more effective to focus on one thing with all of your energy, get it done, and move on to the next.
Need help focusing? Get a good pair of headphones and use a tool like Brain.fm to up your concentration.
2) Turn off your email.
When you gain control of your email you will reduce stress at work. One of the things that becomes such an easy distraction for us at work is constantly checking and responding to email! And if you’re following rule #1 and working on one thing at a time, then having your email open on your computer and switching back and forth is simply an impossibility.
You don’t have to respond to emails the minute they hit your inbox. Instead, for 50 minutes of every hour, turn off your email. Focus on the tasks you’re trying to complete. When that time is up, turn your email back on, look at what has come in during that time, and respond as necessary. We’ve trained people to treat every email as if it’s an emergency, when 99.9% of the messages we receive can wait. If it’s really an emergency, people will come and find you.
3) Help other people.
This may seem counter-intuitive but research tells us the more you help out your co-workers, that happier and more successful you’ll be at work! Imagine a workplace where all the help you needed was freely available – it’s up to the people in each organization to make that happen! You’re all on the same team…you’re in the same boat! When you help each other out, you’ll get more done, everyone will be happier, and you’ll be more likely to get a promotion! People who consistently help out their co-workers are 65% more likely to get their titled bumped and a little more cash in their pocket.
4) Don’t gossip.
Office gossip literally does no one any good. Even if what you’re saying has some truth to it, it can still be incredibly hurtful to the people you’re talking about because you’re taking things out of context. And worst case scenario, the group of people doing the gossiping works themselves up to a point where they start making things up without realizing it! Then you’re really off to the races.
You always have a choice: You can either tear people down or lift them up. Office gossip is one of those things you can always choose to opt out of. Just say no!
I’m a big proponent of meditation, even if it’s just for five minutes every day. However, I also know that it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea…but that doesn’t mean you can take a few minutes of time to yourself when things get stressful and just focus in your breathe. Close the door to your office (or find another quiet place), clear your head, breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this for two minutes when things get intense and it should start to bring your stress levels down.
6) Be thankful.
With all of the things we need to get done on a given day, it can be easy to overlook all of the things we have going for us. Make sure you’re bringing those things into focus by taking a few minutes at the end of every day to make a list of 3-5 things you’re thankful for. It could be anything – the meeting that went really well, that co-worker that helped you out, that really amazing lunch you had. Do this consistently and you’ll see a heck of a lot more good than bad during your average day and dramatically reduce stress at work.
7) Define your boundaries…and then honor them!
There’s no such thing as a perfect work-life balance for everyone. We all have different priorities, are at different stages in our lives, etc. However, to reduce stress at work, it is important for you to have boundaries between your work life and your real life, and it’s up to you to set those boundaries and stick to them! Get out of the office by 5pm, don’t check your work email at home, leave your laptop at work – all of those are a great start. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you can disconnect from your job and enjoy other parts of your life, the more effective you’ll be when you’re back at work.
8) Get creative.
Some jobs are inherently more creative than others but there are always opportunities to look at things in a new way. Being creative at work allows us to find that state of flow where everything disappears around us and hours seem to pass incredibly quickly. All of the nonsense goes away in that time and it’s just you and the work – not only is it a great break but you’ll be able to get more done!
9) Have lunch away from the office.
If you find yourself eating lunch at your desk all the time, force yourself to get out of the office for a change of pace. I’m not talking about going to the break room – get out of the building. Eat lunch on the grass outside, go to a nearby park, pick up lunch at a local eatery…even just get out and go for a drive! Giving yourself that break mid-day will allow you to de-stress and set you up to be even more productive when you come back to the office.
10) Stand like a super hero.
Going into a meeting that you’re feeling nervous about? Use the advice from Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk, shut your office door or go into the bathroom and stand like a super hero for two minutes. Her research tells us that when you stand powerfully, that makes you feel more powerful – it raises your testosterone levels and lowers your cortisol levels, which means you’re reducing your stress.
11) Choose your battles.
Sometimes, all it takes to reduce stress at work is to keep your mouth shut. If difficult people at work are causing you stress, make a conscious effort to choose when to engage with them. Make sure it’s worth it. Frankly, most battles at work are just not worth fighting – when you “win” you don’t really win much at all. So if you’re going to go into battle, make sure that it’s worth it if you come out victorious on the other side. If it’s not, the very best thing you can do is to just walk away.
And detach as much as possible! It can be easy to blame ourselves when people are being difficult but understand that it likely has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. The way we treat other people has a lot to do with how we see ourselves, and where we are emotionally at any given time. Make sure you you’re consciously considering that context and it can make the difficult situations a lot easier to deal with.
12) Work out.
We have to get out aggressive energy out some day and working out is one of the easiest ways there is! Go for a walk, get a punching bag, do yoga – every single person out there can find one activity that they can do for a few minutes.
13) Drink your water!
This is one of the easiest solutions of the bunch – you have got to make sure you’re drinking your water every day! When you’re dehydrated, your brain is not functioning at optimal levels, and your cortisol level (a stress hormone) will go up. Taking care of yourself by eating right and drinking water is one of the first things that goes out the window when you’re under stress. Make a conscious effort to get this part right and you’ll set yourself up to deal with difficult situations from a much better place.
14) Stop watching the news.
We are surrounded by negativity every single day, and one of the key drivers of that is the news. Ever hear the journalistic saying “if it bleeds, it leads”? When you turn on the local news first thing in the morning, and then get home at night and end your day with the nightly news you are bookending your day in negativity. And that impacts how you perceive the world. When you surround yourself in negativity, you see negative things everywhere. If you can flip the switch and surround yourself with positivity, it’s going to result in those negative elements fading into the background. You are in complete control of how you view the world but sometimes you’ve got to do things to remove elements from your life that are not doing you any good!
15) Do what you love.
It always amazes me that people will stay in jobs they hate for years and years…and years and years! There is simply no reason for it. If your job is not something that you’re passionate about – if it’s not something that you can put your whole heart into – go find something that is! There are so many jobs out there, so many ways to make money. The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to go after what you love and make that your career. Then it won’t feel like work at all.
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