Eight Ways to Manage Workplace Stress
Whether you have a deadline to meet or the stack of paperwork on your desk starts looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, stress in the workplace is unavoidable. In fact, the American Psychological Association recently found that one third of workers experience chronic stress in the workplace. If you identify as one of those individuals, here are eight ways to relieve some of your stress not only to increase your productivity at work but also for your health.
- Prioritize Tasks: At the beginning of your day, make a list and prioritize which tasks are causing you the most anxiety. Complete these tasks immediately. The longer you wait to complete stress inducing tasks, the more anxiety you will experience.
- Take a Deep Breath: It seems like such a simple solution, but the American Institute of Stress recommends that the best way to combat stress is through focused breathing techniques. They suggest that 20 to 30 minutes of abdominal breathing per day will reduce your stress and anxiety levels.
- Eat Healthy: It’s no secret that when we feel stressed, we tend to crave comfort food. Unfortunately, that macaroni and cheese with a side of chocolate cake isn’t going to help reduce your stress levels. Foods that are high in fats and sugars make us lethargic, which can decrease productivity thus increasing stress. So trade in that donut for a breakfast with complex carbs, like oatmeal. Complex carbs such as oatmeal, brown rice and beans are known to lower your stress by boosting your serotonin levels.
- Cut Back on the Caffeine: Coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate all contain caffeine, which can increase the body’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone”, and too much of it can lead to anxiety and feeling more stressed during your already stressful workday. In addition, the same caffeine that helps jumpstart your morning also stays in your system and can negatively impact your sleep schedule.
- Get More Sleep: Stress levels are amplified when you are suffering from a lack of sleep. Trying to problem solve while struggling to stay awake is sure to cause stress at work. The APA (American Psychological Association) even found that “adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night”. Getting a full eight hours will help you focus at work and will also decrease your need for that stress inducing caffeine throughout your workday.
- Exercise: In order to relieve stress and get some oxygen circulating, it is recommended that you participate in aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week for thirty-minute sessions. This exercise can be going for a walk, taking a Zumba class, running on the treadmill, or any aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate. Aerobic exercise gets your blood pumping and releases endorphins that elevate your mood and decrease stress levels.
- Stop Over Committing: Stress in the workplace is often caused by over committing. If you are feeling stressed, try becoming more selective of what projects you take on at work. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of commitments you have, it is important to communicate with your boss and your coworkers that you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer while the quantity of project continues to grow. In these cases, you can delegate and ask for help so that you aren’t left feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
- Unplug: With technology constantly connecting us, it can seem impossible to escape from phone calls, emails, etc. Whether you use vacation time or you make sure that you set aside an hour a day for relaxation, it is important to dedicate time to truly unplugging from work.