Workplace stress can be so prevalent that it begins to feel like just another part of your job. But this can lead to many long-term ill-effects on both your career and your health. Short of quitting your job for a less stressful one, however, there are a few strategies you can employ to tone down the work stress in your current job.
Here are a few great methods for reducing your stress at work.
1. Act, don’t react.
If you’re constantly reacting, you’re not doing your best work—and you’re not carefully considering situations as they come at you. Stay in control by stopping before acting and taking a moment to assess and properly strategize. The more you practice this, the less the stress hormone reaction will kick in each time something new gets dropped in your lap.
2. Don’t forget to breathe.
When you’re stressed, chances are you forget to breathe more often than not. Take a minute or two out of every hour—or after stressful meetings—to make sure you get a few deep breaths. Inhale, hold, exhale, hold. Repeat. Three minutes of this can make you feel as calm as if you’d just taken an hour long yoga class.
3. Sit up straight.
Your posture can actually impact how well you do on the job. De-clutter your workspace and make sure you have enough space to sit up rather than slump over your laptop or your phone. You’d be amazed how much more powerful and capable you’ll feel.
4. Get organized.
Once you de-clutter your space, do the same for your project lists and your email inbox. Keep things neat and you’ll feel much more nimble when it comes to decision making. Group your papers and projects into action types—“call back,” “file,” “send out,” or “ complete.”
5. Make realizable goals.
If you set goals for yourself that are too unreasonable, you’ll find you never quite meet them—and you’ll start to feel rather discouraged when you keep failing to get things done.
6. Eliminate interruptions.
The worst thing for your productivity is a constant barrage of interruptions. Interruptions are inevitable, and you can’t let them get to you. But you can try and minimize them. If you have a really important project to work on, try turning the ringer off on your phone, and notifications off on your email—even if just for a few hour-long stretches at a time.
7. Set a daily schedule.
At the beginning of your day, or the end of the day before, come up with a rough schedule for how you will go about tackling your tasks. Don’t forget to block out chunks of time for intense concentration to get your productivity score up, as well as breaks for refreshing yourself, and time to sort through minor administrative tasks as they come up.
8. Take care of yourself.
Don’t underestimate the power of plentiful sleep and healthy eating, both on your wellbeing and your productivity. Eating crap and not getting enough sleep will only make you more tired, sluggish, and stressed at the lack of your own output.
9. Don’t self-impose stress.
Fair enough, plenty of your stress is external. But there may be stresses that you’re imposing on yourself—and needlessly. Make sure you’re not too caught up in others’ perceptions of you. Shift your focus off of others and do your own work, as calmly and measuredly as you can.
10. Prioritize wisely.
Not everything can be a red-hot urgent priority. Have a think about which of your “top priorities” are actually top priorities, then tackle those. Learning to realize that not all projects and crises have equal weight is a great step towards maturity and minimizing stress.