Work-Life Balance

5 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress and Live a Happier Life

5 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress and Live a Happier Life
Written by Joanna Hughes

A whopping 83 percent of Americans feel workplace stress, according to a recent study of work and stress. Topping the list of stresses in the workplace? Workload claims a staggering 46 percent, followed by people issues (28 percent), work/life balance (20 percent), and lack of job security (six percent). But just because stress is prevalent doesn’t mean it has to be a fact of life. Consider these five simple ways to reduce your stress and lead a happier, more fulfilling professional life.

1. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

The research is in, and it may surprise you. While you may take great pride in your ability to multitask, science suggests that it’s probably doing you more harm than good. Stanford scientists have determined that attempting to process more than one stream of information at a time is not only less productive than you think, but also leads to impaired cognitive function.

Rather than attempting to do everything at once, prioritize your work and stick to a schedule for best results. Avoid distractions like email alerts, text messages, and other tasks not immediately related to the job at hand.

2. Speak Up

Your manager and coworkers have their own professional goals to meet. So who is your best advocate in the workplace? The answer is simple: you are. Many bosses will keep piling on responsibilities in the workplace equivalent of a game of “Chicken.” Don’t let that happen.

Instead, speak up if you are overwhelmed with work. He/she may be able to assign the project to a different worker, or extend the deadline. Maintaining open lines of communication with your boss also demonstrates initiative, whereas missing deadlines and turning in shoddy or incomplete work shows a lack of professionalism.

3. Clear Away Clutter

Clutter is more than just an eyesore. Research from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute shows that it can also detrimentally impact your ability to process information and focus. To optimize your performance, clear away all clutter from your work environment. You’ll not only be more productive, but also less irritable — a benefit for you and your coworkers alike.

4. Seek Completion, Not Perfection

When time is tight and tasks are many, striving for perfection — which may or may not be attainable — stands in the way of your ultimate goal: completion. Performance anxiety can be immobilizing.

Rather than giving in to the quest for perfection, accept your best effort and move one. If you’re stuck on a task, take a break. A brisk walk or healthy snack can help you recharge, push through, and wrap up.

5. Plan Ahead

When six o’clock rolls around, you may still have a pile of paperwork through which to plow. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back by reflecting on the day’s accomplishments. Then inventory what remains to be done in order of important. This will not only leave you with valuable peace of mind, but can also help you get the next work day off to a great start.

While workplace stress is a reality for millions of Americans, there are ways to take control and turn the tables. These five tips can help you enjoy an enhanced quality of life — both in and out of the office.

About the author

Joanna Hughes

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who specializes in business, human resources and the job market. She lives with her family in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire.