Are you feeling stress at work?
If you are, you’re not alone.
In the UK, according to a new survey from the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed at work or unable to cope.
In the US, that figure is slightly higher with 79% of Americans feeling stress at work sometimes or frequently during their day.
The terms ‘Stress’ and ‘Stress Management’ and ‘Stress Relief’ now receive up to 1million monthly searches on google.
Signs of stress in the work-place
The most common causes of stress at work involve work pressure, lack of time, and financial stress.
Other causes of stress include fatigue, sleeping difficulties, children, health, relationships, and political climate.
Stress will make you feel anxious, it also causes a number of physical health problems.
Given the potential impacts of prolonged stress at work, learning ways to manage, reduce, and prevent stress can be important tools for mental and physical health and wellbeing.
In this article, I’ll share 12 effective ways to reduce stress at work and create more calm and balance.
1. Reduce stress by taking up yoga
Yoga is great for improving flexibility and strengthening our core.
It is also fantastic for inducing feelings of calm and improving your heart health when you’re feeling stressed, if you do it regularly.
By spending 15 minutes a day doing yoga, you could reduce your blood pressure by as much as 10%.
In a study by Canadian researchers, they found that, among people being treated for high blood pressure, those who spent 15 minutes five time a week in quiet relaxation, saw no improvement to their condition.
However, those who stretched for the same time experienced a 5% drop in blood pressure, and those who practiced deep breathing saw a 7% drop.
2. Celebrate small wins to reduce stress
When we pursue our goals and view our daily successes, we have two options:
- Look at how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved and celebrate success every day
- Look at how far away we are from the goals we have in life and feel more anxious and stressed because we haven’t achieved what we want. Otherwise known as being in the gap.
With a Growth Mindset, you will always be making progress, your confidence and capabilities will grow every day.
Rather than worrying about doing everything perfectly and comparing yourself to others, a major source of stress and anxiety, you are focused on staying on your own path to daily growth.
At the end of every day, write down 3 things that you achieved that day. It could be big or small. The point is that you made progress, even if it was just a little step.
3. Take up meditation to create calm
Meditation can improve physical health, boost the immune systems and increase our ability to cope with stress.
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says mindfulness meditation is perfect for reducing anxiety both short- and long-term:
“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power … You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that–a thought, and not a part of my core self.’”
When you’re feeling stuck and stressed, meditation can help improve your attention and concentration, improve your self-control and give you greater overall psychological well-being.
By meditating for just 10-15 minutes per day, it can help reduce stress hormone levels, increasing serotonin, and strengthening your ability to let go of thoughts that don’t serve you.
You can download a meditation app such as Headspace to help you, work with a meditation partner or just give it a go, and see how it helps you.
4. Just breathe through the stress
A powerful way to stay centered and to counteract the physical effects of anxiety and stress at work is to focus on your breathing.
If your breathing becomes shallow and chest-centered, then breathing deeply or “belly breathing’ can help by lowering cortisol and signalling to your nervous system to rest.
When you’re feeling trapped, frustrated or really stressed at work, take yourself out of the environment you’re in and find a quiet space to simply breathe.
Learn these 5 breathing exercises for anxiety to calm anxiety quickly.
5. Exercise regularly
Maintaining a regular exercise plan can provide relief for many of the symptoms of stress at work
Exercise can enhance our mood, increase energy levels, give us goals to focus on, improve motivation, challenge us and help us sleep better.
Exercise allows our muscles to move, it encourages blood flow and gets us breathing a lot deeper.
Try any racket sport, going to the gym, HIIT training, boxing or more mind-body activities such as tai-chi or Pilates.
The point is, when you’re feeling stressed, get your body moving and find an exercise activity that works for you.
This may be doing something by yourself, in a room of people or part of a team. Pick something that fits you.
6. Detach yourself from work
Do you feel overcommitted? Does that lead to more stress at work?
Do you struggle to switch off from work when you get home?
If you feel overwhelmed at work and struggle to switch off when you get home, you are more likely to experience additional stress and anxiety.
It is essential to unplug daily and create healthy boundaries upon yourself that separate your work and home life.
Detaching yourself from work can be hard if your jobs are highly stressful, demanding and all consuming.
But to ensure you are productive at work and fully present when you are at home, it’s crucial.
It can help reduce stress at work, create less work fatigue and procrastination, build better work-life balance and improve mental health.
If you don’t detach from work, it’s much easier for you to be more distracted, burned-out and increase feelings of stress at work . Your sleep, happiness and general sense of wellbeing will also be affected.
7. Disconnect from technology
When you make yourself available to everyone 24/7, you can expose yourself to numerous stressors.
Forcing yourself to take a break from technology can help. This includes taking a break from your phone and taking a break from email at work, where possible.
Technology enables constant communication and often the expectation that you are always available.
It is difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email or message can change your train of thought and get you thinking about work.
Constant notifications on your phone also don’t help when we’re at work.
We take a look at what our friends and network are doing, often, because we don’t want to miss out. That fear of missing out can cause anxiety – what have I missed?
It also creates a lot of stress at work when we start comparing our lives to those of others.
Create your own path and take a break from the technology.
8. Practice daily intentions to relieve stress at work
The art of practicing daily intentions can be a powerful way of managing and reducing stress at work.
It can be as simple as stating what you want to happen that day or writing down at the start of each day what you feel grateful for.
I write down 3 things I’m grateful for as well as my weekly and 90 day goals. I share these with others to gather support and stay positive.
Gratitude brings together positive emotions like joy, contentment and hope and gives your mind a positive boost.
9. Declutter your home and work space
Excessive clutter can be a symptom and cause of stress and anxiety at work.
Your home and work environment can often be an external representation of what’s happening internally. It can overload your sense and your mind.
If something is cluttered, it’s very difficult to focus and it can feel like there are a million things to do, scattering your thoughts.
Clutter can distract, weigh you down and can create stress in your life. This clutter can also include the relationships that take up lots of time and energy, don’t really go anywhere and cause you more stress than joy.
So, start small and focus on different areas at a time.
When I started decluttering, my first focus was my office and then I moved into my home.
Although it might feel worse before it gets better, committing to and taking small steps can pay big dividends.
10. Find someone to talk to
When you have a lot of stress at work, one of the best things you can do is reach out and talk with someone.
When you share your concerns or feelings with someone, it can help relieve some of the stress or anxiety you feel.
It starts with choosing someone you can trust, someone who gets you and can validate you.
So, call a trusted friend, family member, colleague or mentor and just talk.
You can also create a group of people going through similar feelings of stress or anxiety.
Just like with a Mastermind group for business owners comes together to collaborate, learn and support each other, explore creating a similar group.
Stress at work – The Bottom Line
These 10 tips can help you reduce anxiety and stress at work. They will help you become strong-minded and can be incorporated together into your daily life.
Try them. See which ones make a real difference in your business and life. If they work, share the knowledge with someone else who’s feeling stress at work .
This article was inspired by an article I wrote for LIfehack – How to Help Anxiety When Life Is Stressing You Out