Some pressure at work can be motivating, but there are times when we can feel too stressed for too long. A bad day, a difficult conversation or a project that’s going south can soon trigger waves of anxiety and stress that just won’t go away. Doing nothing and not taking control of the situation will only make the problem worse. We know we need to eat healthily, take holidays, sleep well and exercise to achieve long term Zen, but that’s not much use at the times when you feel like your head is about to explode! Here are five stress busting ideas to try in the moment.
Sharing what’s stressing you out can be an emotional release and help bring you back to neutral. Get it out of your head and off your chest. But being too vocal about everything that’s going badly for you can also be disruptive and annoying for the rest of your team. Emailing some thoughts to yourself rather than blabbing them all over the office will engage your body physically and mentally and allow your brain to slow down. And it makes for a friendlier office. In the long term, try and create a strong support network outside of work; a friend you trust, a family member or seek professional support that will allow you to vent without risk to your work reputation.
If a creative block or tricky problem is stressing you out, leave your desk and go for a walk. The fluid nature of walking encourages the mind to flow freely and feel at ease with new ideas. Research suggests that ‘creative output’ can increase by 60% after a short walk. Countless generations of poets, writers, philosophers and artists have known this, and often walked for inspiration. Walking also encourages clarity of mind and purpose, which is why Steve Jobs hiked in the hills above San Francisco with his designers and board members before making important decisions. And he wasn’t alone – Aristotle, Einstein and President Obama all walked to clarify their ideas.
Another email hits your inbox asking you to quickly just amend a file. Having the confidence to say ‘no’ can be a total game changer in these frequently stressful work situations. When you’re sure it’s the right decision, take control and be clear with others why right now, it has to be ‘no’. In the long run, your ability to say ‘no’ will be one of your most valuable attributes. Understanding when to put the brakes on at work can benefit not just your well being and quality of work but your wider teams.
It might seem simple but when was the last time you actually stopped and took a big deep conscious breath? Sometimes that’s all it takes to reduce stress and instantly feel better. Mindfulness is a really popular tool for combating stress. Adding just one short mindfulness exercise into your daily routine can help reduce your stress levels in the long term. And as they are breath or body focused, you can do them at your desk or on the bus to work and no one will even notice. Here are some nice, simple ones.
A good giggle has fantastic short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally; it actually induces physical changes in your body. You take in more oxygen-rich air and this stimulates your organs and releases those fabulous endorphins. Laughing kicks off and then cools down your stress response and also gets your heart racing. The result? A good, relaxed feeling that soothes tension ahhhh. Find something online that never fails to crack you up and keep it close. BBC News supplied a beauty last week that also might help put your own level of work stress in perspective.
Have a stress free week 🙂