How to Reduce Stress at Work
- Make time for regular exercise
- Make smart food choices
- Don’t skimp on sleep
- Learn to say no
- Don’t lose sight of your purpose
- Sit up straight
- Avoid interruptions
- Maintain a good work-life balance
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2014/15, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That’s 40% of all work-related illness. The average professional has multiple projects on their plate and their days are full of interruptions, distractions and meetings. Many people are also facing uncertainty about their job position due to company restructuring. Pressure at work can cause psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression. Sometimes, pressure at work can be motivating, but when it becomes excessive, it can lead to work-related stress.
What Causes Work Stress?
Stress at work can be caused by numerous factors. However, the main reasons often include pressure, lack of support, work-related violence, bullying or too much work. The way you deal with the mounting stress can lead to unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking too much.
It is important you learn to recognise the physical effects of stress and do something about it before it takes over your life. Work-related stress can easily spill over into other areas of your life, affecting your relationships and health significantly. It’s important you know how to reduce stress at work so that you can go about your life in a healthy way. Read on to discover my top tips for reducing stress at work.
Exercise, such as aerobic activity, is hugely effective in reducing stress. Rhythmic movement, such as walking, running or dancing has an especially soothing impact on the nervous system. For maximum stress relief, I would recommend you get at least 30 minutes of activity every day. When stress is mounting at work, try to take a quick break and walk around the office or get some fresh air. Physical activity is a terrific way to regain your concentration and perspective.
I know, this one can be difficult but food can have a massive impact on how you feel during the day. I would suggest eating small, frequent and healthy meals to keep your energy and focus up. It is a fine balance but try eating more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost, avoid nicotine and drink alcohol only in moderation. Changes to your diet can drastically reduce the stress you feel at work because you feel better in yourself and lead a healthier lifestyle.
You may think you are too busy to get a full night’s sleep but skimping on sleep interferes with your daytime productivity, creativity and ability to focus. Lack of sleep also makes your more susceptible to stress, just read what the NHS has to say about sleep to discover how bad lack of sleep can be. So, try to improve the quality of your sleep by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Routine is helpful.
Learning how and when to say no is a massive life skill. Often, especially in work situations, we feel obligated to say yes to everything. However, this is not always the best course of action as it can cause you to be overbooked, overworked and more susceptible to stress. One of the greatest acts of stress relief is exercising your right to say no. Explain to others that you are overcommitted and you have several high-priority tasks that are taking up most of your time. Negotiate your priorities and you will find yourself far less stressed.
Having a purpose, or a goal, to work towards is what keeps us motivated. When our lives are filled with nothing but work, we can become easily stressed, losing sight of our purpose. This can often leave us feeling depressed, anxious, stressed and resentful. The best way to combat this is by setting yourself a goal and giving your work life purpose. Purpose is the driving force of our motivation and encourages us to work hard and stay concentrated.
Posture. It is likely your parents harped on about this when you were younger, especially if you are tall. It is likely they told you to sit up straight constantly. But they may not have known that posture has a considerable influence on your behaviour. When we sit in tight, contracted positions we often feel stressed as a result. By stretching our backs, sitting up straight and being mindful of our posture, we help improve our concentration and emotions. Who knew that sitting up straight could have such an effect on your mentality?
Ah yes, the common solution to all work problems, avoiding interruptions. But like so many things in life, it is far easier said than done. Often, your phone will be ringing off the hook, people will be chatting around you, meetings will be called and emails filling up your inbox. The best solution to the rising problem of workplace interruptions for the reduction of stress is to deal with the interruptions immediately.
Yes, this answer may seem odd but it needn’t take up most of your time. When the interruptions do occur, don’t let them derail you from your work. Simply write a quick reminder to yourself before dealing with the interruption. By using this technique, you won’t lose precious time trying to retrace your steps. This will significantly reduce your stress levels and will help your employees feel valued and invested in.
Stress in the workplace is helped immensely by maintaining a good work-life balance. Naturally, this can be difficult at times when projects are overdue or your workload continues increasing. However, with effective time management, you can keep your workload under control and leave at the end of the day without feeling guilty.
The pressure of increasing workloads is a huge problem in the UK work culture and is one of the biggest contributors to stress among the general population. Without a good work-life balance, you can be left feeling overly stressed and exhausted, leading to mental health problems and burn-out. To avoid this, gain back your work-life balance. Shut down your computer at the end of the day, write notes of anything you need to deal with immediately the next day and leave the office knowing your mental health and rest time is just as important to sustain as the elevated level of your work.
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life and, in moderate amounts, it can often help us perform better in challenging situations. However, too much or prolonged amounts of stress can lead to numerous health and mental problems, including digestive and health issues, medical health problems such as depression, lower immunity levels and much more. It is extremely important, therefore, that we learn how to manage stress in a healthy and effective manner to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
I hope the above suggestions have been helpful to you. However, if you find that you are overwhelmed and struggling, I would strongly recommend contacting your local health authority and seeking professional help.