For many people, stress is an unavoidable part of life. It can be exhausting in itself just trying to eliminate it. However, there are plenty of ways to reduce stress levels to the point where your stress is manageable.
Reducing workplace stress is particularly important because being stressed at work can cause conflicts with co-workers or management. It can also lead to decreased productivity and missed deadlines.
Additionally, continuous stress can take a toll on your body and mind. It can have a negative impact on everything from your mental state to your physical appearance and lifestyle choices. For example, it can lead to smoking, increased alcohol consumption, or eating more unhealthy junk food.
Here are 9 ways to de-stress during the workday and avoid unhealthy stress responses.
1. Identify Your Stress Sources
The first step to de-stress at work is to identify the issues that are stressing you out in the first place. That way, you can find ways to reduce those stressors.
For example, perhaps you feel like you are doing the work of three people. If so, schedule a meeting with your manager. He or she may delegate some tasks to other team members for you.
Similarly, if you think your deadline is too tight, your supervisor or team members may provide helpful advice for staying on target.
It is also possible you are stressing out at work over something that is not work-related. A health issue, family problem, or romantic entanglement may have you preoccupied.
If so, address that problem as quickly as you can. You’ll likely start to feel better about your tasks at work when such concerns are behind you.
2. Breathe or Meditate
Controlling your breathing patterns can be an effective way to reduce stress. It is also relatively easy to do while you work, especially if you have an office job.
While sitting in your chair at work, take a deep breath in. Hold it for a few seconds. Then, slowly exhale. When you control your breathing, you may find other parts of your body begin to relax.
For example, your heart rate might slow down. Your muscles may also start to feel less tense. You can also practice various meditation techniques for the same reasons.
Try carving out 15 minutes to meditate on your lunch break or before you start your workday.
3. Slowly Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine can cause stress on your heart. It can also create nervous energy.
Caffeine sometimes provides a necessary burst of energy. However, that burst of energy is your enemy when you want to de-stress. The less caffeine you drink when you want to stay calm and collected, the better.
Yet, eliminating caffeine suddenly can also cause its fair share of problems. For example, caffeine withdrawals often cause headaches.
Instead, try to reduce your caffeine intake gradually by making slight changes like:
- Substituting water for one caffeinated beverage per day.
- Alternating between caffeinated and decaffeinated cups of coffee or tea.
- Slowly reducing your chocolate intake.
- Checking your medications for caffeine levels and discussing substitutions with your doctor.
4. Personalize Your Work Area
If you are more comfortable at work, you are likely to have less stress. Personalize your work area whenever possible.
Hang art you appreciate or display family pictures. If the type of workplace you have allows it, you can also listen to music while you work. Also, make sure your workspace works for you. For example, if you have an office job, request an office chair that feels comfortable and inviting.
5. Keep Your Workspace and Home Organized
There is a direct relationship between stress and physical clutter. Keep your workspace clean to de-stress at work.
A clean environment can create a positive mental response. Also, an organized work environment can help you complete projects on time, reducing stress associated with tight or missed deadlines.
It also helps to keep your home organized. Living in a clutter-free environment can help you start the day off on the right foot. It may also allow you to more easily de-stress after a long workday.
6. Find a Quiet Place to Have Lunch
It might seem tempting to socialize at lunch. However, sometimes you need to recharge your mental battery. That is usually best done in a quiet, peaceful environment.
If you work from home, try driving to a local park to eat or shutting your home office door and tuning out your family.
Similarly, if you work in an office environment, avoid eating in the cafeteria when you feel stressed. Look for a quiet bench outside or eat alone at your office desk, if doing so is allowed.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine could help you reduce stress. You can walk to work if your office is local. If not, try exercising at work.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are mood enhancers. You may also find regular exercise improves your concentration and mental capabilities, which can make your workday easier.
Here are some ways to exercise during the workday:
- Walk during your lunch break.
- Stretch at your desk.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator when running office errands.
- Take advantage of the on-site gym if your employer offers one.
8. Keep a Journal
One reason you may get stressed at work is you might not have a healthy outlet for your emotions. One such healthy outlet you can use is a journal.
Using a journal allows you to vent frustrations without repercussions. You can also use a journal to organize your thoughts or even create to-do lists to help you get through the day efficiently.
If you do not like the idea of a written journal others might read, consider online journal keeping on your computer or voice dictating your thoughts using a password protected personal diary phone app.
9. Talk to a Family Member or Friend
Depending on the type of job you have, you may not be allowed to discuss details with outsiders. However, you can still vent about general workplace stress to a loved one.
Tell your troubles to a friend or family member to get some general feedback. Your loved one might have some more ideas you can use to diffuse certain situations or generally de-stress at work.