Stress is no joke, especially in a work setting. From running to meetings to refreshing your email inbox constantly, it’s easy to get swept into the stressful parts of work. Although some stress is reasonable, it becomes an issue when it is excessive and ongoing. Many medical reports have examined the negative effects stress can trigger from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint. Excess stress can prompt migraines, increased blood pressure, upset stomachs, alongside more serious conditions such as anxiety and depression.
As a result, lots of organizations are focusing on reducing stress in the workplace. Here are some extremely beneficial strategies you can adopt to manage and reduce your stress levels, as well as find a positive work-life balance:
Identify the cause of your stress
The first step to recovery is usually identifying the problem so you can face it head-on. In the workplace, it’s important to be able to identify the source of the stress since there are so many external factors that could be negatively affecting you. Take note of your physical environment, and be brutally honest with yourself about whether you are actually comfortable. Maybe your chair is rickety and awkward on your back, maybe your keyboard is causing you to have wrist pain, or maybe the lighting on your computer is straining your eyes. All of these small problems can cause huge amounts of stress in the long-run, including headaches, tension, fatigue, lack of focus, anxiety, and much more. Remember, you spend most of your life at work, so the least you can do is be kind to your body on the job.
The negative effects of stress can range from the very mild to chronic physical and mental pain, which in turn easily affect your overall morale and satisfaction at work. A good manager or supervisor will certainly take your comfort into consideration because they know it will affect your productivity, so don’t be afraid to approach them with suggestions on how to improve the work environment.
Diet has such a profound impact on our mental health. But it can be hard to maintain a healthy diet at work, especially when you only have a certain amount of time to get your food. If that’s the case, try meal-prepping every week. Not only is it cheaper than eating out every day, but it’s also easier to prepare and takes less time out of your limited lunch break. Meal-prep is also a chance to find healthy alternatives for foods that, while they may taste delicious, are causing you to crash and burn later in the day.
For breakfast try replacing processed high-carb foods, like cereal and bagels, with whole grains and fruits. The most popular lunch foods (e.g. pizza, cheeseburgers, hotdogs…) are full of grease and heavy in carbs that your body will spend most of its energy digesting when you’re trying to work. This is why people often experience drowsiness and a lack of energy after heavy meals. You can combat this vicious cycle by balancing your meals with different types of energy sources, like salad, nuts and berries, and other healthy snacks throughout the day.
Water. Literally, one of the building blocks of life, it is absolutely essential to have a healthy, productive day. Water plays a vital role in how we as humans function. Some tell-tale signs of stress such as headaches and migraines are often caused by dehydration. The tiniest changes in your water intake affect things like your skin, mood, digestion and your eating habits. So it’s no wonder that going without water in a naturally stressful environment can exacerbate these factors. To get some relief, drink plenty of water! If you often forget, try bringing a cup to work dedicated just to water and set a few reminders in your calendar. Drinking water will soon become a habit and your body will thank you for it!
Form Good Work Relationships
Feeling isolated at work is definitely a major contributor to stress. Having a solid support system in every aspect of life can help manage some of the negative effects of life. So it’s obvious that a support system at work would be beneficial. Maybe it’s a tense work relationship or misunderstanding between you and some of your team that is contributing to your stress. If so, this is completely natural—we’re all human, and being around people you don’t understand or just can’t seem to connect with is a part of life. The trick is to not let this affect your work or your mental well-being. Remember your co-workers need just as much support as you do. Perhaps the only thing standing in the way of a positive, healthy relationship between you and your co-workers is one good conversation or outing after work to foster that connection.
It could benefit your team as a whole to bond over aspects of the job that you all find stressful. If you don’t have a close friend at work, try to take steps to be more social with your co-workers. When you take a break or go for lunch, for example, instead of seeing who posted what on Instagram, try talking with your colleagues and connect on a personal level.
Exercise is an awesome way to alleviate stress, but sometimes it’s hard to fit in on a busy schedule. Meditation can be a good substitution. Studies show a consistent meditation practice, even for only a couple minutes per day, may contribute to lower blood pressure. Meditation can also help control the annoying thoughts that can trigger stress. Whenever you begin to get stressed at work, pause and take a deep breath. Shake out your body, sit back down, plop in those headphones and give yourself some time to meditate.
When you’re stressed, it can sometimes feel like you’re in the middle of a whirlwind with no way out. A way to alleviate some workplace stress would be to get organized. Planning ahead to stay organized can greatly decrease stress at work. Keeping yourself organized means avoiding the negative effects of clutter, and being more efficient with your work. Try making a to-do list, setting multiple deadlines for a single project, and using different calendar apps.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for support
Everyone gets stressed. If you feel like your stress is becoming unmanageable, it’s important to reach out and ask for help. Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Most organizations and companies have stress management resources available or counseling, and referral to mental health professionals, if needed. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to see a psychologist who can help you identify the problem and better manage stress at work.