6 Tips to Stress Less at Work
Stress. It’s not a fun thing is it? But who doesn’t stress at work right?
Some people may experience short binge stress moments, ie. when they have a deadline to meet so they work really hard to meet it in time, while others may experience prolonged periods of being stressed. Some may bounce back from being stressed easily yet others may find it more difficult to work competently while under stress.
This is a very personal thing as everyone experiences it in their own way. However, it’s not an isolated experience to feel stressed at work. Work-related mental health conditions have become a major concern in Australian workplaces. There are a number of reasons for work related stress and health conditions such as long hours, work pressure to exceed, being away from friends and family, feeling isolated, multitasking, experiencing or witnessing harassment and bullying, exposure to violence or traumatic events.
According to Safe Work Australia, each year sees 7,200 Australians being compensated for work-related mental health conditions and approximately $543 million is paid in workers’ compensation for these conditions.
While you might feel helpless and stressed at times, there are ways you can empower yourself and change your job situation for the better.
That’s why I’ve compiled my favourite six ways to stress less about work.
Look After Yourself and Take Breaks
This may sound simple and people usually push it aside because they’re ‘too busy’ but taking time out to relax is one of the most important things you can do to re-tune your body and mind. Ensuring that you have at least one day off a week will give you enough time to rejuvenate. Turn off your phone, read a book, go for a walk, play sport, go for a swim, do some yoga, hang out with friends, or even have a nap. Find something that you enjoy doing and do it or try something new. Just be sure to switch your brain off from work and chill out.
While you’re at work, give yourself a break - physically. Take a walk, stretch, or visit a co-worker and chat face to face instead of sending an e-mail. This will get your blood flowing, make you more mindful of time management and it even burns a few calories!
Eating well is also very important. Stress releases cortisol in the body, which causes the body to crave fat and sugar. For many, this can lead to unhealthy eating and weight gain. If you’re like me, travelling constantly, fast food looks better and better every day as it’s quick and easy. But, if you spend an extra 10 minutes at night/morning making up an amazing lunch, you’ll save not only your money but also your waistline. In the end, you’ll feel so much better! Boycott those fast food places and eat well.
2. Create a Great Work Atmosphere
When I contacted David Cooke, Acting Director, Animal Programs, National Residue Survey, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Canberra, he explained how he keeps his staff happy and working efficiently.
“My first tip is to Delegate tasks. Second is then go and have a break… I have provided picture puzzles for my staff to complete where everyone gets involved. I also supply little bites to buy and if they want, they can purchase great music to listen to.”
If the atmosphere is relaxed and positive, the workers will work more efficiently. “Staff from differing branches meet and talk to each other around the puzzle area, allowing greater work connections, personal relationships and work synergies,” David said.
3. Start Your Day Off Right
After scrambling to get the kids fed and off to school, dodging traffic and combating road rage, many people come in already stressed, and more reactive to stress at work. You can imagine how starting the day off at work after a stressful morning can impact your day. You know the saying; “Woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” If you start off the day with good nutrition, proper planning, and a positive attitude, you may find the stress of the workplace rolling off your back more easily. As number 2 mentioned, also creating a positive workplace atmosphere makes it more enjoyable for people to come to work.
On the way home from work, listening to music brings many benefits and can offer an effective way to relieve stress after work. I drive an hour each way, three times a week and my trip goes so quickly because I turn the music on loud and reflect on my day.
4. Shift Your Mindset
If you feel yourself getting frustrated, distracted or annoyed at something, change the way you’re looking at it. Say for example, you’re writing an article and are stuck on the right word to say. You could sit there, wasting time, getting frustrated or instead, you could write yourself a note to come back to it and complete the article. When you come back to it, I’m sure you’d have the right word to put there.
5. Eliminate Distractions and Stay Organised
Tackle one project at a time. You will end up getting your work done in a much more efficient and less stressful manner. I recently watched a video where the lady was recommending when you’re working on something, turn your timer on for 20 minutes. You’d be amazed at how much you can get done in that 20-minute period if you put your mind to it and eliminate all the distractions. I challenge you to try this. Even if you’re a naturally disorganised person, planning ahead to stay organised can greatly decrease stress at work. Being organised with your time means less rushing in the morning to avoid being late and rushing to get out at the end of the day as well as not being cluttered and stressed at work.
6. Act Rather Than React
Control your fight or flight response. When something negative happens, some people mentally withdraw from the situation, while others go on the defensive and lash out. Also, be aware of your own reactions. For instance, say your favourite supervisor typically dresses casually but today he’s wearing a suit. Your worry reaction would be to assume that he’s interviewing for another job. Take a deep breath, be aware of these negative emotions and change the way you view things.
I try to do all the above myself and it really does make a difference to not only work but also to life. My favourite tips out of the above are the 20 minutes with no distractions, having a walk at lunch time and definitely having a great work atmosphere. I enjoy going to work each day as the people I work with are basically friends – as long as we get our work done competently. Looking after yourself is the best way to eliminate stress. Remember, life’s too short and you spend so much if it working, so you need to enjoy your time at work. Make whatever amendments you need to, to ensure you’re happy.