7 Ways to Relieve Stress in the Workplace
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I’m sure we have all experienced the joys of stress at work. You know how it goes, when that dreaded deadline is coming up and you are behind schedule, or someone doesn't hear instructions correctly and produces a report with the wrong data. It’s even more exciting when there are multiple individuals involved. That’s when it can become difficult to blame the right person. This is when the fun begins; everybody freaks out and starts pointing fingers!
When you or your colleagues make a mistake and the higher-ups find out, it’s time to “stop, drop, and roll” real fast under your desk! Hide or duck for cover! It’s rolling downhill fast and you better get out of the way! Seriously though, stress in the workplace is an all too common obstacle, but it is one that can be overcome!
Stress is indeed an obstacle. It gets in the way of clear thought process, relaxation, and a sense of peace and calm, which in turn affects your health. While a certain amount of stress is unavoidable and even good at times (when it gets you to complete a project on time), too much stress has a negative impact on your health. In general, it is a known fact that stress can affect your ability to sleep, eat (overeating or not eating enough), interact pleasantly with those around you, and can trigger numerous diseases; as evidenced in numerous journals, books and articles.
What do you do when you’ve struck the mother truck-load of stress? Personally, I have a few strategies that work well for me. While the following suggestions may not strike your fancy, they are worth giving a try.
- Take a moment, breathe and count to 10...don't forget to breathe - It’s hard to focus when you are turning various shades of green and blue. Besides, color coordinating your face to the office décor should be the least of your concerns during such a stressful time.
- Get up off your chair and take a walk. Even 5 minutes to get away from “the monkey on your back” can clear your head and keep you from going bananas. You could even tempt your co-workers to join you in a race of the desk chairs. Cubicle wars are fun too; adding a nifty paperclip sculpture to your neighbors desk while they step away, or throwing paper airplanes with inspiring messages across the isle are two wonderful ways to stretch your arms and legs!
- If you are allowed to play music, whether at a low volume or with headphones, choose something that will calm and soothe the senses. It’s probably best to avoid “head banging” music as we don’t want to literally encourage such behavior… Doesn't your head already hurt enough? Perhaps you've already had the urge to “whack your head against the wall” today.
- Talk to a colleague. Express your feelings! Get it out there! I always feel better when I vent to someone who is willing to listen, and even better when they can relate to my situation. This helps me feel normal, or at least what I think is normal…
- After work hours (or during your lunch break) get in a good workout. Get those tennis shoes on and hit the pavement, or the treadmill. Try Yoga! In the past year I have learned, and continue to learn, some beginning and intermediate Yoga poses. It really does reduce my stress level and clears my mind. It's also known to improve flexibility. Just think of all the positions you could contort yourself into while sitting at your desk.
- Start a new hobby. Is there something that you've always wanted to try? Having activities you enjoy can do wonders for your well-being. I recently started writing again, as I did in my younger years. I find it a healthy way to release the hundreds of thoughts that race through my mind on any given day. I find that writing allows my mind to clear, and it’s easier for me to focus after I have taken a few of those pesky thoughts and ideas out of the equation. Maybe you can improve your creative writing skills in the process. You'll really impress your cubicle neighbors with the brilliant notes you will be able to stick on their computer monitors. It'll be like writing the great American novel, "post-it" style!
- Turn the lights off in your office and meditate for a few minutes. Just make sure to leave your door open a little. This way when colleagues refer to you they can’t say “the lights are on and nobody’s home.” You want to give a good impression, don’t you?
One of the most important things to remember is that the majority of mistakes can be fixed. Try to see things for what they really are. Working hard and putting forth your very best effort is the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and your employer. It’s hard to be a good asset to your organization if you don’t take care of yourself. So PLEASE get rid of that stress!