The harsh reality of life today is that our workdays are hair-pulling stressful. Job, career, office politics are some of the leading causes of stress in the United States. Some stress at work is often considered a good thing, but never-ending stress can lead to burnout and health issues.
Both men and women are working harder, dealing with a multitude of nagging problems and for longer hours than ever. Technologies such as smartphones and the Internet that once promised an easier and less stressful work-life, instead of simplifying our lives, made it even more difficult to get away from work. We work at the office; we work at home, day and night, we work and stress about work always.
Sadly, many of us experience less leisure, the more stress as we balance, family, friends, work, and career. The good news is that there are simple ways to reduce stress, relax, rest, and be calmer during the workday.
Start the workday with meditation.
The way you start your day is going to impact your entire day. If your goal is to reduce stress, and have a relaxing workday, instead of jumping out of bed in a hurry to start your day, take time to pray or meditate. If you don’t want to pray or meditate to start your day, you could read an inspiring book for a few minutes. Beginning your day in such a way brings a sense of peace that will stay with you all day.
Fight stress with exercise.
Experts claim that exercise is capable of burning off the excess adrenaline that fuels feelings of stress and anxiety. Exercise also releases the body’s natural chemicals, endorphins, that block anxiety. Take a brisk walk or a short run over the lunch hour. During the workday, even a short walk around the block can help.
Avoid coffee to reduce stress.
Consuming high amounts of coffee can elevate cortisol levels, so if you have a stressful job, drinking coffee makes your body respond more to the stresses you experience. The mix of caffeine and stress has a multiplying effect. A Duke University study found that caffeine consumed in the morning hours has effects on the body that persists into the evening hours and amplifies stress consistently during the day. The scientists found that the effects of caffeine last significantly longer than previously believed. They also found that caffeine boosts stress and anxiety in people who consume it daily.
Expect good things to happen at work.
Are you the type of person who tends to imagine the worst-case scenario whenever anything happens? Many people start sinking into despair before they even get to work. What you give out comes back. If you expect to be stressed, you will be stressed. It’s that simple.
Start your day thinking positive thoughts. Speak positive words, and you will find yourself with positive feelings. Next thing you know, you are building a positive momentum of goodness in your life.
Develop healthy responses to stress at work.
Don’t fight stress the wrong way. Consuming sugary drinks or fast food as a response to stress creates an unhealthy response to anxiety in your life. Exercise, music listening, and meditation offer a healthy response to stress. Make time for your favorite hobbies and activities. Whether it’s going to see a movie or reading a book, make sure you set aside time to destress.
Acknowledge the good things for stress relief at work.
Acknowledging the good things about your job and career is the foundation for a calm and peaceful life. Gratitude is good for your health. Stress hormones like cortisol are almost 25 percent lower in grateful people. Research shows that when we meditate about things, we appreciate we feel good.
Cultivating gratitude is possible for anyone, and it can be mastered in the following ways:
- Remind yourself – Every time you find yourself complaining about stressors at work, acknowledge something for which you are grateful.
- Keep a journal – Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to cultivate gratitude for a more positive mindset.
- Avoid comparisons – Making comparisons is stress-inducing. You can really stress yourself out by comparing yourself to coworkers who seem happier or more successful than you. Such thoughts will stress you because you will feel inferior to your colleagues. In cultivating gratitude, you can compare yourself to colleagues who are seemingly less successful than you (which points out how fortunate you are), or you can experience gratitude for having people at work who inspire you to do better. Both options can guide you away from stress and envy and closer to a state of gratitude.
Don’t stress about mistakes at work.
Do you ever catch yourself mentally replaying work-related mistakes? Stressing about situations and wishing you’d performed differently is not only unproductive but unpleasant too. Chastising yourself for not being more organized, charismatic, or organized can be linked to anxiety and depression.
Luckily, there are effective techniques for breaking yourself out of this rut, and they’re easier than you might think.
- Catch yourself early – As soon as you identify, you are stressing about work issues, stop blaming yourself or others.
- Distance yourself from your insecurities – Reject the urge to indicate your character for mistakes of the past.
- Distinguish between obsessing and problem solving – The more you obsess over mistakes, the less effective you are at actual problem-solving. This technique is especially effective for perfectionists. If you are worried about a mistake you’ve made, embrace a strategy that will reduce the likelihood fo it happening in the future.
- Distract yourself – If you notice that you are obsessing, distract yourself. Occupy yourself in an activity that’s brief and requires attention but not particularly complicated, like going over your to-do list for the next business day.
“Good Enough” is the path to lower levels of anxiety.
Chasing perfection is exhausting. People who can’t accept “good enough” make life harder than necessary. If you learn to accept good enough, you can stop the self-sabotage and be your own chief ally in stress relief.
Here are some tips for cutting down on self-inflicted stress:
- Understand that success is about high achievement and not perfectionism. Perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage and a source of stress.
- Realize that if you have a Type A personality, you are more prone to stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, CHD, etc. People with Type A personality are more likely to have stress hormones present in their bodies, which leads to stress-related illnesses.
- A balanced life is a less stressful life. You can prevent overwhelming yourself by paying attention to how you feel and make adjustments to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is critical for stress management.
- You can fight stress by rejecting pessimistic thoughts. Don’t be afraid of positive thinking.
- Accepting your weaknesses is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
Destress with peaceful images in your mind.
Develop a habit to pause briefly to create peaceful images in your mind. Even simple acts like creating peaceful images in your mind can reduce stress. The images you find peaceful is a matter of personal preference. For example, picture a warm sunny day walking on a sandy beach as you enjoy the cool breeze through your hair. Or imagine yourself hugging someone you know long enough to make it meaningful.
- Cute images about pets
- Architectural patterns
- Blue skies
- Baby wild animals
- Natural green spaces
- Adorable kittens
- Natural fractals such as shells or the aloe vera plant can destress the mind.
When you are feeling anxious about work, reading is one of the best ways to relax and manage anxiety. Studies have shown that less than ten minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by about 60 percent. Reading is a more effective stress buster than walking or music listening.
Studies about the relationship between reading and reducing anxiety have shown that reading can effectively ease muscle tension and lower your heart rate. The best part? You are not required one specific book to read, so if horror is your thing, don’t worry, you can enjoy the fear-induced adrenaline rush and relax at the same time.
Reading doesn’t hide our problems, but it allows us to take a break from them. Constant anxiety can be overpowering, and it has the effect of negatively impacting every experience you have. Getting lost in a great book allows you to escape your own nagging thoughts and lose yourself, your worries, and your anxieties, if only for a couple of hours. Sometimes that is all you need to escape the stresses of the workday.
Eat your meals in a less stressful environment.
Eating lunch at your desk is just another way to make your day more stressful. Getting away from your work environment to eat your lunch can do wonders for your stress level and productivity. Get out of the office (or home office) and use your lunchtime to be with nature. If you can’t pull it off every day, try to have lunch at least three times a week alone, away from the hustle-and-bustle of the office.
Fight tension with music therapy.
Music is known to have stress-reducing effects. Listening to music can be a quick route to calm your nervous system, relax, and getting yourself into a reduced stress state.
The following tips can help you release work-related stress:
- When you are stressed, use a playlist to redirect those fears and worries.
- Celtic, Classical, Indian stringed, Native American, flutes, and even drums are capable of relaxing your mind on a stressful day. If music isn’t your thing, you might find the sounds of rain relaxing.
- Try to find new music periodically. Listen to new genres of music.
Track your stressors at work.
Keep a journal to identify the most stressful situations at work. Note how you responded to the stressors. Record your feelings and thoughts. Include the people involved. Keeping a journal can help you identify patterns among your stressors and about how you reacted to them.
Talk to your supervisor about stress at work.
Employers understand the need to keep their employees healthy. Your supervisor has an incentive to help you reduce workplace stressors. Reach out to your boss and have an honest conversation about your thoughts. There is a good chance that your boss will work with you to develop a plan to manage stressors.
Consider herbal and natural supplements to manage stress.
To fight stress, there are many herbal and natural supplement options. They are known to effectively relieve and manage stress and anxiety.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most common herbal and natural supplements to fight stress:
- Vitamin B: Studies show that B-complex supplements can be beneficial in mitigating symptoms of anxiety. Vitamin B1 is critical for balancing blood sugar levels, which are an important factor in anxiety levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: According to one study, medical students who took omega-3 supplements experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms.
- Melatonin – If you are stressed out, falling asleep can be a challenge. Melatonin is a natural sleep aid, helping with your circadian rhythms (your 24-hours internal clock).
- Valerian: It is widely used as a sleep aid due to its tranquilizing features.
- Lemon balm: A member of the mint family, lemon balm has been studied for its anti-anxiety effects. According to studies, taking a single dose of lemon balm boosts alertness and calmness. Adding lemon balm to foods can improve memory and reduce anxiety.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha seems effective at lowering symptoms of stress and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels, a stress hormone in the body.
- Kava kava: Kava kava is an herbal remedy with a long history of use in alternative medicine. It is said to relieve stress and anxiety, and it is also considered a sleep aid. Studies show that the Kava kava supplement has a calming effect.
Some supplements can interact with medications or have side effects. Consult your doctor before you take any herbal or natural supplements.