When stress sneaks up on you during the work day it can spell the end of your productivity. The next day you have twice as much to do so the stress remains and a vicious cycle ensues. Break the cycle with these 8 techniques to stress less at work.
1) Allow yourself a break
A lot of us believe if we just push through the day working every single minute we’ll get more done. Science has proved us wrong and finds that when we push ourselves to our limits productivity goes down and stress goes way up. You’re much better off scheduling blocks of around 90 minutes of focused work and then taking a brief break. Keep yourself on track with a leather lounge in your office. After a 90 minute work block you can sit or even lie down in your recovery time and properly rejuvenate away from your work files.
2) Find balance
Neely Raffellini, founder of the 9 to 5 Project, finds keeping organised and maintaining a work-life balance are the best ways to eliminate stress throughout her work day.
“I use a few strategies to keep my stress levels manageable. One is to scribble a to-do list at bedtime so that I can sleep well and be set to start work the next morning. Also, I try to “leave” work at a reasonable hour. As an entrepreneur who works from home, it’s important to keep a balance between my work and personal life. These two techniques give structure to my day and keep my stress levels balanced.”
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3) Perspective is everything
Psychotherapist and executive coach Natasja Wagner is no stranger to helping people manage their stress. She suggests taking a step back to think about the bigger picture.
“We all experience stress in the workplace. One way lower stress levels is to put them in perspective. Ask, will this really matter a year from now?
If the answer is no there’s a good chance that what you’re feeling may not be as big a deal as you initially thought. This question puts things into perspective and reminds us that we experience each moment as it arrives and this means that we can also change our experience.”
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4) Surround yourself with positivity
There are plenty of ways to create a positive environment in your desk or office. If you have total control then changing the colour scheme can work wonders. Blue is the most calming colour while yellow lifts your spirits and green can express harmony and restfulness. Try updating the walls and decor to include some of these. If you’re a desk-dweller then fun trinkets and personal photos of friends and family will give you a chance to free your mind.
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5) Laugh it up
Humour is proven to be a stress relieving wonder. Scientific studies in the US, India and Australia have shown stress-busting benefits from the practice of laughter yoga.
“A hearty laughter yoga session enables a workplace to reap physical, mental and social wellbeing in less than half an hour, lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lowering blood pressure and improving mood and focus,” says The Happydemic’s Heather Joy Campbell.
“For a quick circuit-breaker after a stressful meeting or phone call, try this: clap your hands as you say ‘very good, very good’ and then pump the air as you say ‘YAY!’ and repeat a couple of times.”
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6) Practice meditation
Yoga instructor and mindfulness advocate Brodie Rees feels the stress creep in more when she gives in to life’s busy nature. Meditation works for her and it can for you too.
"We are all very busy in our everyday lives and running a retreat business myself I definitely know how stress levels can sometimes take over. Even though I am a yoga teacher I'm not immune to sometimes giving in to the busy-ness of life and do forget to step back and reflect sometimes. This is why I find a little meditation each day is the perfect antidote to feeling overwhelmed by my to do list. After making a permanent space for meditation in my life (and it might only be 10 mins a day) I've noticed I feel much more grounded and less impacted by stress"
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Read out other article on mindfulness here to find out what all the fuss is about.
7) Replace bad habits
Juliet Potter, director of Girl PR, is a business woman, mother and all around busy bee. She doesn’t let stress get her down and suggests cutting out stress-increasing habits - like coffee - in favour of calming ones.
“Working in a busy PR agency can be stressful. With so many clients and balls in the air, along with all the pressures that come with running a business, keeping my stress levels and anxiety at bay is a high priority for me.
Avoid Caffeine - I know everyone drinks coffee to recharge however it has a tendency to have the opposite effect. I try not to drink coffee as I find it has a crash and burn effect and increases my anxiety levels. I switched to herbal tea (PUKKA 3 Ginger is the bomb!) and have never looked back.
Breathe it in - Burning incense in the office had a really calming effect. Some essential oils that are anti-anxiety are Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Rose and Chamomile. Try a few blends to find the right mix for you.”
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8) Make friends
Ever swap your computer screen at work time for your smaller computer screen at lunch? Put down the phone and engage with co-workers for a positive social boost that will help relieve your stress. Talking about your concerns often helps you feel more in control of them and you never know, a colleague may have just the answer you’ve been after.
There’s bound to be a stress-buster here that works for you but you won’t know until you try.