Stressed out? Tired of feeling tired? Ready to reinvigorate your working day? Great! Let’s get stress-busting…
We’re never going to promise you a stress-free existence; where would be the fun in that? But while a certain level of stress can be good for you (pushing you to achieve more and keeping your motivation levels high), you don’t want to feel stressed at work all the livelong day.
Done right, work can be incredibly good for our wellbeing. If that sounds made up, you definitely need our help.
How to Keep Workplace Stress to a Healthy Minimum
Whether it’s an upcoming presentation, a particularly heavy project, or a ‘man down, all-hands-on-deck’ situation, stress strikes for all sorts of reasons. Workplace stress is as common as, well, a really common thing – but however commonplace, too much stress can be incredibly bad news for your mental health.
Constant stress can also impact your sleep, weaken your immune system, and increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Yikes!
So while we can’t remove all stress from your life now and forever, we can offer you a few pieces of tried-and-tested advice for managing stress at work, and protecting yourself from burnout:
- Schedule recovery time: Did you know that we’re biologically programmed to face stress, and then rest and recover? That’s when stress serves us best: swooping in with its fight or flight neurotransmitters, before leaving us to hit the pause button. The trouble is that modern living doesn’t support this process so well. To recover from stress, you need to make time for YOU: away from work, and any other stress triggers; that way, your cortisol (stress hormone) has time to return to normal.
- Tap into relaxation strategies: Whether you’re working remotely or from the office, there are plenty of chill-out techniques you can perform from behind a desk. Ever heard of Progressive Muscle Relaxation? It’s a common practice used to kick-start many a guided meditation, but it’s incredibly easy to do on your own. Starting from your face (specifically your eyes) and working down to your feet, simply tense each muscle group for 10 seconds, then relax for 20. This will help you to pinpoint, and release, any tension in your body.
- Head outside and into nature: City or country, home or office, it really doesn’t matter. Time spent outside will help to lower your stress levels, whatever your surroundings. Sure, it helps if your walk is lined with trees and accompanied by the gentle lull of birdsong, but breathing in the fresh air, looking up to the sky, and getting the blood pumping with a daily walk can bring calm and clarity into your working day – wherever your route takes you.
- Manage your time – and factor in breaks: Time management is a biggie when it comes to stress at work. If you’re daunted by an ever-expanding to-do list, it helps to break each task down into bitesize chunks. First, prioritise: this means pinpointing what you should do next in terms of importance, rather than personal preference; then, split that task into smaller pieces – ticking off one piece at a time. But make sure you’re having a break every 90 minutes, as working for longer stints can cause stress levels to rise.
- Embrace the power of ‘no’: One of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace is having a workload that’s simply too demanding. It can be incredibly tempting to take on every task that comes your way; you don’t want to let anyone down, and you want to shine in your career – but knowing when to say no is an important part of success. If you have too much on your plate, or you’re offered a project that really doesn’t appeal, speak out. Explain that actually, you can’t take that on right now. And that doesn’t make you a bad worker.
Finding Moments of Peace in Your Working Day
As well as keeping an eye on your workload, taking regular breaks, getting outside every day, tackling small tasks one at a time, and factoring rest and relaxation into your working day, there are lots of other little changes you might want to weave into your routine.
Eating lunch away from your desk, listening to classical music when you need to concentrate, burning scented candles in your home office, staring out of the window to reset your eyes and clear your mind, starting the day with a 5-minute meditation, and unwinding after work with yoga, journaling, or dinner with friends can all help to bring those stress levels down to a healthy minimum.
And if you need some wellbeing inspiration? Take a look at our resources page.