It’s impossible to avoid stress completely, but by listening to your body's needs you can create a more positive working environment. By paying attention
to diet and exercise, taking breaks, and including creative outlets, you can keep stress and anxiety from taking over your workplace.
So how do we control stress? Heres a few tips:
Tip 1: Begin self-care at home
Make sure you get enough sleep. The actual amount differs from person to person, so pay attention to how much sleep you need to feel rested. 6-8 hours of sleep is what most research suggest. Research also suggests that it is a good idea to avoid screens (phones, tablets, and laptops). If you are having serious sleep problems, consult a professional.
Prepare nutritional and balanced snacks and a healthy lunch. Worrying about what to eat can cause stress and anxiety.
Tip 2: While at work, be mindful of your physical environment
Create a space that is conducive to a nice working environment. If your company allows it, personalize your work area with items that are meaningful to you, such as favorite artwork, photos, or plants.
Arrange furniture in a way that makes you comfortable and allows for easy access to files or reference materials that you use frequently. Place items that you need to do your job, such as pens, note pads or staplers, within easy reach. This cuts down on those little frustrations and annoyances that can build up into stress over time. If you are a field employee, arrange tools so they are easy to reach, or adjust your work area to accommodate body positions for extended times.
Maintaining the correct physical alignment throughout the day--head over shoulders, waist, and hips—will reduce stress on your back. Adjust your chair for good lumbar support and add small pillows if you need them. Paying attention to how your body feels in the work environment can go a long way to helping reduce stress and anxiety.
Tip 3: Take breaks
Sitting for too long a time isn't good. Get up and walk around or stretch every hour or so to keep the blood moving. Even if you exercise regularly, prolonged sitting is not good for the heart, so build activity into your work day. Get up and make copies, refill office supplies, or visit the water cooler. Rather than emailing a co-worker, get up and walk over to personally interact.
Don't underestimate the power of closing your eyes and breathing. Deep breathing increases the oxygen in the blood, improves mental clarity, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure. Slowly inhale on a count of four, hold for a count of eight, and exhale for a count of four. A few minutes of deep breathing will clear the mind and help you refocus your energy.
Tip 4: Lighten up on caffeine
A trip to the coffee pot can be a good way to take a break from sitting at the computer, but consuming too much caffeine comes with its own issues. Excessive consumption is also linked to many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and headaches. Moderation is the key here. If you are experiencing the jitters, try cutting down on the number of cups you drink a day or changing to decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea. Adding sugar to your cup can affect your energy level and bring on that afternoon crash, so it is a good idea to limit sweeteners, too.
Tip 5: Frame your work relationships in a positive light
A positive outlook on life and work can reduce stress across the board and you always have a choice to view a situation in a positive or negative light. Yet even with a positive attitude, conflicts will still arise. When this happens, don't respond immediately; take a few deep breaths and calm down. Once you have calmed down, process what happened and try to understand the other person’s perspective. See it through their eyes. Acknowledge your feelings as valid and see their feelings' validity, as well.
Tip 6: Take time off
A break doesn't have to be a trip to the Bahamas to be effective. Taking short breaks during the work day helps you come back more refreshed and awake. Go outside and walk to a restaurant instead of eating lunch at your desk. Volunteer to make a delivery to a branch office, or take a bit of personal time and run errands. Taking a few minutes away from work can also help you fight off illnesses that can lead to work backups and more stress.
Tip 7: Take part in company sponsored wellness events
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and many companies offer programs and incentives to help you develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check with human resources and see if your employer has company-wide fitness, exercise, or weight-loss challenges.
Tip 8: Be creative
What you do in your free time can have an important effect on the amount of stress in your life. Hobbies and classes can help you relax during your down time and make you more effective at work. Pick up hobbies that inspire you, such as drawing and painting, photography, ceramics, or music. When you feel relaxed and balanced, it helps reduce overall stress both at home and in the workplace.