Workplace stress is far and away the largest source of stress for American adults. Studies show that the numbers continue to rise. The lines between work and personal life are getting increasingly blurrier. This means it can be hard for all of us to “leave work at work”. Work-related stress can cause all kinds of issues including mental and physical health problems.
For me, this is personal. I know that when you work somewhere with a high amount of stress, this can have a negative ripple effect on your entire life and the ones around you. You go home and complain to your spouse, you stay late and miss time with your kids, your friends continuously hear about it and gradually drift away. The struggle is real.
Luckily, the opposite can also be true. If we take control of our own mindset and how we handle the stress, we can have a positive ripple effect on our work team, family, community, and friends. We can “be the light” when it comes to dealing with modern work stresses.
Below is a list of 13 ways of how to deal with stress at work. But, none of these things will work unless you believe they can. If you approach work stress as “unavoidable” or “part of the deal” then this will not work for you. If you have an open mind and do these things, you will reap the rewards. Jump on the path to less stress and let’s go for a walk.
13 Strategies for Managing Stress in the Workplace
- Stay Organized – One of the biggest stressors at work is self-inflicted. Poor organizational skills will make you feel like you are always behind. You will let the day control you instead of you being in control. Having a to-do list alone is simply not enough. You need to have a prioritized to-do system. Keep the things you are going to get done today separate from the other “stuff” that needs to be done later or not at all. Update your to-do lists at the end of each day and make sure you have everything written down even if you are not going to do it the next day. Your mind is not a good place to keep this information. Get it out of your head so you can decide what the next steps are to prioritize your day. If you need a process for this, check out “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. This leads to my next suggestion…
- Read a Book – Take a few minutes to read. Reading has obvious benefits no matter if it is nonfiction or fiction. Take a few minutes to either escape to a foreign land or learn about a new way to prioritize your day. Either way, you will be better for it. I like to schedule it into my day so that I can make the time. An easy way to fit this in, read during your lunch break.
- Eat Healthily – Many people have a bad habit of “stress eating”. Set yourself up for success by identifying different nearby restaurants with healthy options that you enjoy and are convenient. Too often we equate convenience with unhealthy food. At home, you can meal-prep on the weekends or buy pre-made meals so you can have both healthy meals and snacks while you are at work. A bad diet makes us sluggish, easily irritated and less productive. Set yourself up for success by planning ahead.
- Be Comfortable – Wear clothes that are comfortable. Even if your dress code is on the more formal side of business casual, there are plenty of options these days to maintain comfort and style. There are dress shoes that feel like sneakers but look stylish. There are comfortable pants in all styles. Make sure you are dressed comfy but look sharp. Looking good boosts our confidence!
- Get Outside – Take some time every couple of hours to get outside. Fresh air and a change of scenery are proven to help foster a positive mindset. While we don’t have the most beautiful scenery around our office (I would describe it more as sketchy than scenery) it is still really helpful to walk around the outside of the building a couple of times and feel the outside air.
- Listen to Music – Listening to music while working has been shown to increase work satisfaction and productivity. Do yourself a favor and play some tunes throughout the day to better your mood and get more done! There are even studies that show listening to the same song on repeat improves productivity. I have done it. It is strangely comforting.
- Start Exercising (or Exercise More) – During busy times (like tax season) we tend to cut out some of the things we enjoy (or don’t enjoy but need to do) due to time. Exercising is proven to not only make you healthier and stronger but also make you happier. This combination will help improve your work performance and overall satisfaction. You want to be happy, right? RIGHT??
- Get Enough Sleep – I know for me when we are busy I want to unwind by reading NFL Twitter gossip or watch the latest episode of Jack Ryan at night, but your body needs 7 – 9 hours to be at optimal performance. Give yourself a bedtime and follow the appropriate tips to help make sure you are able to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Maintain a Positive Mindset – One of our Core Values at ERG is “Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react”. If you take this approach, you will have a great day (even when your client sends all of their tax info the day before the deadline :). If you approach the day with positive intent and realize that you are incredibly blessed, you will relieve a lot of stress. I like to think about some of my early jobs when I think I have it tough (stacking lumber, Taco Bell, dishwasher, you get the picture).
- Breathe! – Seriously. Run a google search for guided meditations or box breathing. Guided meditations are a great way to start your day and clear your mind. Box breathing is useful to calm down in a stressful situation. We have a ton of power inside our own body to control our stress levels.
- Play a Game – Take a quick break in the middle of the day to play a game for ten minutes (by yourself or with a co-worker) to create a nice distraction and help to keep your mind in a good place. You can do a crossword puzzle, play a game of cards with a coworker, or start a board game or puzzle that you play over several days. This also increases workplace socialization and opens communications lines between team members.
- Take a Break – Too often when work gets busy we try to take fewer breaks in the hopes that we can get caught up or get ahead. Take 10 to 15 minutes every couple of hours for yourself. Give your mind a break. You can also try the Pomodoro Method (25 minutes of focused work followed by a five-minute break).
- Go to Lunch – Many of us are eating lunch at our desks and robbing ourselves of one of the few times of the day you can get out of the building. Even if you prefer to bring in your lunch, go outside and eat it. Enjoy some fresh air and take your mind off work for a few minutes.
How to Deal With Stress at Work for Employees
While it appears stress is becoming more and more of a problem if you do the things above, you can control your stress levels and dare I say; be happy at work?!? These strategies for managing stress in the workplace can help you learn how to relieve stress quickly.
For more information regarding how ERG can help you to create an awesome place to work, check out our free HR resources or you can get a copy of my book on Amazon: Ping Pong is Not a Strategy: How to Create an Awesome Workplace.
Thanks for reading and please leave your comments below on how to deal with stress at work.