Stress is an ongoing problem for many people in our fast-paced society. We have forgotten how to stop and smell the roses, and instead spend our days rushing to and from work, school, the store, or going to any number of other activities. We tend to be plugged into our iPhones, iPads, and computers for the majority of the day and struggle with unwinding and slowing down for a sufficient period of time to feel refreshed and relaxed.
One of the locations where we may experience significant stress is the workplace, where we are often expected to keep up with high demands, frequent interruptions, and multitasking. Over time, this level of pressure can take its toll on both our physical and psychological health and well-being.
As a therapist, one of the questions I am asked most frequently is how to deal more effectively with stress on the job. Some people may have a self-care routine at home, but they often have more difficulties with maintaining one at work. The following are strategies that can be used to help in reducing stress levels on the job:
- Avoid eating lunch at your desk. Whenever possible, try to leave your work environment in order to take a break for lunch. Going for a brief walk and getting a little sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for refreshing your spirit in the middle of the workday. If this is not possible, at least try to eat lunch somewhere other than at your desk in order to avoid continuing to work at the same time.
- Take a five-minute relaxation break once or twice a day. If you are feeling particularly stressed over a specific situation at work, take a break and listen to a short meditation or relaxation app that can be downloaded onto your phone. This can help you to gain a different perspective or to at least come back and approach your workload from a fresher frame of mind.
- Get organized. Prioritize your workload to get things done in order of their importance. Becoming more efficient with your time will help to reduce your stress levels, as you may feel that you are accomplishing more. If you tend to struggle in this area, you might want to consider enrolling in a time management class, where you can learn more effective ways of organizing your tasks.
- Get up and stretch. If you spend a lot of time working on the computer, try to get up once in a while to stretch your muscles. This can also be helpful in alleviating the eyestrain associated with looking at the screen for long periods at a time.
- Discuss problems regarding your workload with your boss. Many people tell me that they feel overworked, but they frequently don’t express their concerns with their supervisor, which tends to make them feel worse. By talking to your boss about any issues that are coming up, you may be able to get some help resolving them. If this does not solve the problem, then you can reevaluate the situation and possibly consider looking for another job.
- Take a few deep breaths. If you have had a stressful interaction with a client, colleague, or supervisor, try breathing deeply for a few minutes and focusing in on any tension you are feeling in your body. By taking a few moments to breathe, you can take your concentration off the stressful situation and center yourself prior to moving on to your next task.
- Look at problems as challenges rather than obstacles. We can sometimes find creative solutions when we approach issues with an open mind and positive attitude rather than just considering the negative side. Also, think of what you might be able to learn from the situation instead of focusing on what you can’t do.
Although you can help to relieve tension on the job by following some of the techniques above, developing a good self-care regimen before and after work is an important part of reducing your overall stress levels. Start your day by meditating when you wake up to begin on a peaceful note, and try to incorporate some exercise into your routine at least several times a week. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep in order to feel refreshed before facing your day.
Stress can have devastating effects on our health if we don’t take some time out to care for ourselves on a daily basis. Dedicating a little time every day to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits can be an effective way to reduce our stress levels and improve our well-being.
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