19 Tips for Managing Work Stress
For most of us, our jobs constitutes a lot of the stress in our lives. I’ve been lucky enough to not have a super stressful job 24/7. For the most part, I come in, I sit down behind a computer at a pretty sweet office building and make spreadsheets all day er’day. After 8 hours and a 30 min lunch, I leave. It’s a rather ho-hum work life and the most drama the job gets occurs when someone forgets to refill the coffee machine after taking the last cup of joe.
It’s pretty laid back but even still, there are intense time (usually at year end which is like NOW) I face some of the same stressors that many others in the workforce face: hard to meet deadlines, know-it-all coworkers tap dancing on your last nerve, the shove-you-under-the-bus coworker, the indifferent boss, the micro-managing boss, the lackadaisical boss, the incompetent boss, the run-tell-dat gossiper, the canceled happy hours because you have to work (unpaid) overtime hours, the overly critical annual evaluations, the irrational and unobtainable performance standards, the question of whether you will have a job in 3 months, the expected promotion that didn’t happen, the unreasonable workload, the how am I going to pay my bills on this salary and so on…
Suffice it to say, besides money (or lack thereof), work stress is our second biggest stressor. Add long commutes and traffic on top of a bad day at the office, it’s no wonder we come home irritated and at each other’s throats all the time.
In my last post, we talked about what stress is, how to identify the stress symptoms, and some ways that we can manage stress in our every day lives. But I want to zoom in and specifically talk about how to manage work stress.
Like I said, I’m not going to act like I’m always under a lot of stress at my job.
I realize that I got it pretty good compared to some of you. But there are times when I am stressed to the max and it is during these times that I feel like my head is going to explode and all I want to do is crawl under my desk and cry for my mama. And let’s be real- if I had my own office instead of a cubicle, I would probably shut my door and do just that.
You guys know that in stressful situations, I have a tendency to take flight. So if I have a fast approaching deadline and it looks like I won’t be able to make that deadline I literally place my chin in my palms, stare out the window, and watch the grass grow. It’s my way of running from my stress.
This approach would help me avoid danger, but when it comes to facing daily work challenges, this approach is not helpful.
So what are some helpful techniques that we can do at work to manage stress? Here’s my list of 20 things we can do to manage stress at work:
Remember, stress sometimes manifests physically in the body so it helps to release some of that built up tension. Sit straight up as if you are being pulled towards the heavens by a puppeteer. Raise your hands up in the air, and wave them like you just don’t care (and if you really love Cef and you wanna leave a comment let me hear you say: oh yeah….(I’m stopping.)). But really try this simple stretch: Raise your arms up towards the ceiling, wiggle your fingers, stretch over to the left, back to the center, then over to the right, and back to the center.
I mean take deep breaths. Try out Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 method: inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, hold in that breath for 7 seconds, and exhale loudly for 8 seconds. Do this four times in a row.
3.Pray and Meditate on the bible.
I keep a small pocket sized copy of the bible at work. When I’m feeling the pressure and am on the verge of a mental breakdown I repeat this simple prayer: Lord, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this but I will stand firm in my faith that You are God and You are good and through You all things are working together for my good. I can do this. I repeat that over and over and over and over.
4. Listen to music.
I heard through the grapevine that classical or slow tempo’d music slows the heart rate thus lowering your blood pressure and decreasing the level of stress. But don’t count out fast tempo’d music either. Fast tempo’d increases focus, concentration, and alertness. upbeat music makes you feel more positive about life (maybe share ideas- different artists). I have personally found that I need that bass, that BOOM BOOM POW when I gotta get schtuff done.
Find out what type of music works best for you in terms of providing relaxation or increased productivity.
5. Take a walk during lunch or on one of your breaks.
I do this twice a day, especially when it is nice outside. I go once in the morning and once at lunch. During my walks, I practice gratitude, a method that I swiped from Tony Robbins. While I’m walking, I look around and think about all the things that I am grateful for, including the things that I do not yet have but am believing God for. The sun. The trees that provide shade and a breeze. My ears that can hear the crickets. Eyes that can see the butterflies. My new home. You get it.
6. Try tea.
Instead of reaching for the caffeine, how about a nice relaxing cup of tea? Lavender, Chamomile, and Passionflower are some good ones for relaxing and chilling out.
7. Join an employee wellness groups or start one.
Try out a walking/running club, a softball team, book club, etc. Some ladies at my old job would eat a very light lunch together and then go on a quick run during their lunch break. Did wonders for their job satisfaction.
Another suggestion: exercise or hit up the exercise room. This, too, does wonders for your productivity, inspiration, creativity, and motivation. And of course there is that added benefit of endorphins, lowering stress level. It make take an extra push to get motivated, but I promise that once you start and finish, you will feel ready to take on the world. Get it superwoman!
8.Talk with your supervisor.
Present your stressful work issue AND a possible solution to that issue. Give this one a lot of thought. You don’t want to come off as someone that is complaining or someone that cannot handle the pressures of the job but at the same time you do want to make sure that you are working at your optimal level of productivity.
9. Decorate your workspace.
I cannot begin to tell you how much positive energy this brings to your personal space. I have faux “real to the touch” flowers, a pretty framed picture of the soon to be Mr. and I together, and a colorful coffee mug that says, “You are Amazing.”
10. Meditate on inspirational quotes and scriptures.
Check out my desktop wallpaper. You can set this as your desktop background and remind yourself of God’s greatness.
11. Make your workspace more ergonomically.
My fiancé is BIG on ergonomics. At first I thought he was just obsessing and only wanted to buy stuff but I found that his little tweaks to improve posture really helped to increase productivity by relieving stress placed on the body.
Adult coloring books are everywhere. And they really work wonders for reducing stress. Try em out.
If you’re in a position where you can pass on tasks to someone else, give it a whirl. Don’t try to be the superhero and do it all. Oh and if you do pass on the task, make sure that you pass it on to someone that you trust will get it done. And try not to micromanage them. Remember, you passed on the task to someone that you know will get it done so there is no need to breath down their necks over it.
14. Snack healthy.
Ok, I will admit that this one is hard for me. I have an extreme sweet tooth and sometimes, apples don’t cut it. But, I always pack a healthy snack even if I don’t always eat it. When I eat my snacks, I take a quick break to eat it. I don’t eat and try to work. I turn from my computer for a minute or so and enjoy my snack. And the bonus points with chomping on something healthy is that there is no guilt (aka added stress) that comes with it afterwards.
15. Practice mindfulness.
This means paying attention to what you are doing and focusing on one thing at a time. No multitasking. When you practice mindfulness, you are allowing yourself to focus on all your senses and therefore you become more aware of your body. You’ll then begin to notice any changes to it. This helps with being able to identifying any stress symptoms. So going back to the step above, I practice mindfulness while snacking. When I eat my snack, that is all literally all that I am doing. I’m not eating while tweeting or instagraming. I’m not eating while inputting numbers on a spreadsheet. I am fully engaged in eating my snack: the taste, the smell, the textures. I’m engaging all of my senses here.
16. Talk about something else.
Talk to someone about something other than the issue that is stressing you out. When I was having trouble adjusting to one of my past jobs, talking about my work issues did not help. I felt that I was the black spec in the salt shaker and no-one “got me” or my problems and that led to more stress and more frustration. Instead, I focused on the things that I enjoyed talking about and shared my interests with them, like traveling.
17. Take a break.
Take a break from the stress. I don’t mean take “flight” from your problems. Just take a reasonable amount of time to put the issue aside. I have one day a week where I do absolutely nothing after 3pm. I don’t wedding plan, I don’t work. I don’t do anything for the blog. I call it my off day. It’s my day to recharge and let me tell you, it is on these days that I receive my best ideas and inspiration. Taking a break from it all allows me to regain my motivation to tackle what it is that I have to do
18. Drink water.
Your body needs water even when you don’t feel like you need water. Try adding fruits to your water to increase your intake. I found that when I add fruit, I consume a lot more water than without it. Also, instead of reaching for a soda, try sparkling waters. I love the Dasani Pineapple flavored ones.
19. Get off Your Phone.
I’m talking social media, y’all. Social media and the easy access we have to it via our phones can make us jealous of others’ life. This jealousy can cause you to spend money for fear of missing out (FOMO). And consequently, you become stressed out because the money that you were supposed to spend for the wedding was spent on a trip that you really couldn’t afford.
There I go inserting one of my 99 problems again.
But for real. You don’t need to check in and see what all your peers are doing on a random Tuesday night. They are doing what you are doing: wondering what everyone else is doing. Trust me. They’re lives aren’t really that cool and it certainly isn’t better than yours. You are not missing out on anything. You life is perfect as it is and you don’t need to justify it by comparing what you’re doing to what they are doing.
So just give it a break, even if for 30 mins.
Wow, that was a lot. Here is the real takeaway: no-one is immune to stress. But everyone can choose how to react to it. The good news is that you have the power to choose to manage stress in a way that improves yourself and your relationship with others. Give any of the above tips a try and let me know how they work out in the comments.
Do you have any additional tips to add? Let me know below!
Until next time, may He overwhelm you with blessings, today.
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Graphics and Content by Cefion