6 Simple Strategies to Reduce Stress at Work

December 27, 20168:34 am2297 views

Stress is undoubtedly the silent killer at workplaces today. It lurks in the shadows, depletes your energy, sacks your concentration, and shakes your confidence. Your co-workers talk about it in hushed tones (if at all), and your boss is in denial of its very existence.

Countless studies stand testimony to the fact that excess stress can cause real physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain, and trouble sleeping. That’s not to mention its role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

According to a survey, “Working in Asia” by Roffey Park, it found that not only do Singaporean workers spend more hours at work relative to their Hong Kong and China peers, more than half (52 percent of Singapore workers surveyed) said their stress levels have gone up over the last six months. Among Hong Kong workers, the figure is 43 percent and China workers, 45 percent.

It further found that workload, lack of support and organisational politics are the top three sources of workplace stress for workers across China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Stressful jobs further lower life expectancy; however certain amount of healthy stress is a good thing.

Experts make a distinction between eustress (good) and distress (bad), while pointing out that eustress is actually necessary for individuals to make breakthroughs and companies to grow. Eustress is motivating. It keeps you on task and helps you cross the finish the line. Distress is debilitating, and occurs when the good stress builds up and becomes too much to cope with.

Negative work stress can come from a variety of factors, some of them include:

  • Fear of being laid off or fired
  • Additional overtime due to budget cuts
  • Pressure due to constantly rising expectations
  • Pressure to constantly work at peak levels

How do you know if your stress levels are out of control? Here are a few warning signs:

  • Depressed mood – you may lose confidence, become angry, irritable, or withdrawn
  • You lose interest in your work, and a sense of apathy takes over
  • You’re unable to sleep or experience fatigue during the day
  • You have trouble concentrating
  • You experience muscle tension, headaches, or stomach problems
  • You notice a decrease in your libido
  • You turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism

The key is to manage stress so it remains at a healthy level and doesn’t become overwhelming. In the Infographic below, we’ll take a look a look at the alarming costs of workplace stress, the warning signs that you’re too stressed, and 6 simple methods for reducing that stress – so you can get back to work with renewed spirits and high on motivation.how-to-reduce-stress-at-work

6 Simple Strategies to Manage Stress in your Day-to-Day Lives

These tried and tested methods below, have great effects on reducing workplace stress. Here are they:

  1. Form Positive Healthy Relationships

While the negative effects of stress are very real, much of the stress we experience can be alleviated simply by talking about it. That’s why positive relationships at work are so important. Even if they can’t solve your problems, the simple act of verbalizing your stress with someone you trust can actually reduce the severity – or clear it up altogether.

Additionally, friendships can take your mind off the stressors and provide a buffer between your daily tasks and your negative thoughts.

Here are some tips for fostering positive personal relationships at work:

  • Put down your Smartphone! Instead of burying your head in your Instagram feed at lunch, leave your phone at your desk during breaks and engage with co-workers.
  • Encourage vulnerability. Vulnerability exercises are something you should practice. After breaking out into smaller groups of four or five, everyone in the group is encouraged to share something personal – often a meaningful experience from their upbringing. The relationships formed during these vulnerability exercises are the basis for some of the deepest and longest-lasting relationships at the company.
  • Start your own “buddy” or mentorship program at your office. Remember, these relationships should be both personal and professional. It works best when buddies are from different departments, so there’s less chance of office politics becoming a factor.

See: Those in High-Stress Jobs with Little Control over their Workflow Die Younger: Study Finds

  1. Start Exercising (Exercise More)

With its mood-boosting and endorphin-releasing properties, regular aerobic exercise is a natural stress reducer.

Exercise’s ability to elevate mood is well documented. Numerous studies going back to the early 80’s found that regular exercise can improve mood for people with moderate depression. In fact, a 1999 study found that exercise was just as effective of eliminating depression antidepressants.

Exercise also helps get your mind off your stressful thoughts. By training yourself to be in the moment and focus on your body’s movements (rather than mulling over your worries), exercise can be a form of active meditation and have a calming effect on the body and mind. You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity each day.

  1. Eat Healthy and Nutritious Food

Ever heard the phrase “eat your feelings”? It’s a real phenomenon. Many people turn to unhealthy “comfort foods” as a way to manage stress.

Why does this happen? When we’re stressed, our brain releases the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave salty, sweet, and fat-laden foods for the temporary pleasure they bring.

But ironically, “stress eating” only exacerbates the problem. Sugar or fat-laden foods like pizza, burgers, and ice cream make us feel lethargic, and less likely to tackle the problems that lay before us, which in turn only increases our stress.

That’s why it’s so important to eat healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates that fuel our brains and support concentration and focus.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Stress has long been linked to chronic insomnia. But while conventional wisdom treats the inability to sleep as a symptom of stress, researchers at Harvard medical school found that poor sleep may actually be a contributing factor. That’s because a lack of sleep inhibits your ability to cope with even normal amounts of stress, and negatively affects your mood and outlook.

The point is, you can’t hope to reduce stress when you’re on edge and irritable from lack of sleep. Here are some tips to get your sleep schedule back on track:

  • Shoot for eight hours a night.There used to be a stigma, especially among business leaders, that “sleep is for the weak.” The most productive people know that you can’t operate at peak performance without the regenerative effects of proper sleep. So don’t skimp!
  • Stick to a schedule.Set your body’s internal clock by hitting the hay at the same time every night. You should be able to fall asleep fairly quickly and wake at the same time each day without an alarm clock. And speaking of sticking to a schedule…
  • Avoid sleeping in on weekends.While it may be tempting, sleeping in can throw off this schedule and undo the progress you’ve made.
  • Turn off screens 1 hour before you want to go to bed.Whether it’s TV, laptops, or our smartphones, screens keep our brains engaged and make it difficult for us to fall asleep.
  • Take cat naps.We’re talking 15-20 minutes, max. While we definitely believe that naps are regenerative, don’t overdo it. Again, the goal is to get in a rhythm of getting proper sleep more often than not, so you’re clear headed and ready to take on the day.
  1. Prioritise and Organise Your Goals

Feeling overwhelmed is a major stressor. A great way to handle and reduce stress is by prioritising and organising your to-do lists and goals. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Clarify Goals.Before you can prioritize, you have to set clear objectives. Make time to sit with your manager and clarify your goals. Be sure that your daily activities track back to one of your overarching goals.
  • Prioritize Against Goals.Don’t set priorities arbitrarily. Use your goals to evaluate the importance of every task. Team members can evaluate each task by asking, “Is this getting me closer to or further away from my goals?” If the answer is anything other than “closer to,” it’s not a priority.
  • Focus on 2-3 things Max.There’s an old saying – if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Focus on the “biggest levers” – that is, the 2 or 3 things each week that will have the biggest impact on your goals.
  • Set Deadlines.As a general rule, if a task doesn’t have a deadline, it will get pushed aside for one that does. Set realistic deadlines for everything, and everything will get done.
  • Make a To-Do List.So simple, yet so effective. To make sure things get done, write them down in a notebook or a note taking app like Evernote. If you’re still overwhelmed by tasks, use task management software like Asana or Wrike to keep a handle on your daily activity, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Use Your Calendar.Plan your weeks in your calendar so that you maximize the limited time you have each week. We recommend team members plan out their weeks on Friday or even Sunday evenings. Make sure to schedule breaks in there as well – as in actually put them in your calendar!
  1. Kick Your Bad Habits

Managing stress is partially about your mindset. Your outlook can have a huge impact on your ability to cope with everyday stressors. Keep them in check so they don’t become major sources of negative stress.

Here are a few tips to change your mindset by break the bad habits that are holding you back:

  • Stay positive.One way to do this is to express gratitude. It’s surprising how much different your outlook is when you make a point to recognize the people and things in your life that you’re lucky to have.
  • Resist perfectionism.Don’t fear mistakes, learn from them. The desire to be perfect can make your stress spike and your self-worth plummet. Recognize that failures don’t define you, they’re just opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Focus on what you can control.Much of the anxiety we experience is over the uncertainty caused by things outside our control. The best way to combat that is to only focus on the things we can control – like our effort, our attitude, and how we treat people – rather than the outcomes we can’t.

Follow the tactics outlined here to bring your stress level back down into the healthy range so you can continue to experience breakthroughs and create some real magic for yourself.

Author credit: Jeff Murphy is the Director of Communications at SnackNation. He’s obsessed with helping you create an Awesome Office.

This article originally appeared here.

Also read: Elevated Stress Levels and Heavy Workloads are soon becoming a Workplace Epidemic

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

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