Everyone experiences workplace stress from time to time. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, stress– which is essentially how the body responds to any type of demand– can sometimes motivate you to push forward and work harder. Long-term stress, however, can have detrimental effects on both your physical and mental health. For example, chronic stress has been linked to ailments ranging from high blood pressure to depression. Thus, it’s essential for your overall health to learn how to properly manage workplace stress. Consider the following tips for stress management:
Be mindful of what’s in your control.
Much of stress stems from a feeling of being out of control of a situation. Unfortunately, there are many situations that arise in the workplace that you can’t control– a co-worker’s attitude, a demanding client, or a temperamental boss, for example. What you can control, however, is your response. So, when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by a particular situation in the office, take a step back and remember what you can actively control: your actions and responses. Then let go of everything else.
It’s an all too familiar situation: your chatty co-worker stops by your office to ask a quick question, which quickly turns into a never-ending recap of her weekend plans. Meanwhile, the to-do pile on your desk isn’t getting any smaller. Distractions like these often lead to workplace stress, so it’s important to establish boundaries early on. If you have an office door, keep it closed so that passersby don’t feel the urge to drop in for a chat. If you don’t have the luxury of simply closing a door, be polite but firm when addressing distracting co-workers. Let them know that, while now is not a good time to talk, you’d be happy to catch-up over your lunch break.
After you’ve eliminated distractions in the form of chatty co-workers, it’s time to minimize the distractions you bring upon yourself. How many times a day do you pause to scroll through Instagram or Facebook? Every time you hear your email make that telltale ding, do you stop what you’re doing to check your inbox? If so, you’re needlessly distracting yourself– and probably inadvertently contributing to your own stress levels. Give yourself designated email checking times throughout the day– say, first thing in the morning, before lunch time, and in the late afternoon. When it’s not a designated email time, keep your inbox closed. Save the social media surfing for your break time.
Everyone needs mental health breaks throughout a work day. While you might be tempted to eat lunch at your desk and continue to work, make a conscious effort to step away from your office for an hour during lunch. Go for a walk, sit outside, socialize with a friend– but stay away from your desk. In addition to your regular lunch break, take a few mental breaks throughout the day. Every couple of hours, take five minutes to stand up and stretch, walk around the office, visit the lounge, or return that personal phone call. Not only are brain breaks good for your mental health, they’ll also encourage increased productivity when you get back to work.
It’s probably the last thing you want to do when you get home after a long, stressful day at work. However, regular exercise is a proven stress reliever. That’s because exercise releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormone. Don’t have time to hit up the gym? There are plenty of creative ways to get your body moving while maintaining your busy lifestyle. If you live within a few miles of your office, walk or bike to work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk during your lunch break. Start a fitness accountability group in the office.