10 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress
Unfortunately, these days, work and stress go hand-in-hand. After all, we recently learned that too much work can kill you (or at least cause some very serious health problems). With 40% of the workforce reporting an increase in workload over the past year (thank you, recession!) learning how to reduce stress in our daily lives is imperative.
In order to help employees chill out, MainStreet has come up with 10 suggestions that can prevent workers from going off the deep end.
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Leave for work earlier
It may sound a little counterintuitive: How can you relieve your stress by working more? However, leaving your house even 15 minutes earlier than usual creates a calmer commute. You’re not racing to catch a train and you won’t lose it when you miss your ride. Allowing for literal and figurative morning speed bumps prevents your stress levels from going through the roof before you even make it to the office. You also give yourself some more time to settle into the day and eliminate the chance of being bombarded with work the second you sit in front of your computer.
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Cut back on the coffeeA recent study by the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology showed that coffee increases anxiety in casual drinkers. So, those of you who use coffee to get a jumpstart should seriously consider switching to orange juice. If you are predisposed to panic attacks, you should also eliminate the stuff as it can exacerbate an anxiety disorder.
Additionally, full-blown addicts can benefit from cutting back since the study found that coffee really doesn’t increase alertness. It simply alleviates withdrawal symptoms. Basically,you wouldn’t need the coffee if you weren’t addicted to it in the first place so slowly wean yourself off of the beverage.
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Change your eating habits
Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries or whole-grain cereals, can help to regulate your mood and lower stress levels, so replace that giant breakfast sandwich or fast food value meal with a healthier option. Also, remember, it’s not just about what you eat, but how and when you eat it. Skipping breakfast will only serve to decrease your attention span and not taking a lunch can make you crabby.
A good rule of thumb is to eat several small meals throughout your work day. Hungry readers should check out MainStreet’s article 10 Healthy Snacks for the Office.
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Personalize your workspace
Your office or cubicle shouldn’t resemble a jail cell, since that, of course, will make your feel as if you are in prison. Taking the time out to decorate your workspace with family pictures, personal belongings and/or accolades will make you feel more at home and can increase your productivity. Implore basic feng shui techniques to create a more soothing work environment. You do this by using soft colors, rearranging your desk lighting and eliminating as much clutter as you can before leaving the office each day.
Decorating for the holidays can also improve your mood so don’t be a Grinch this season.
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This may be a no-brainer, but the health benefits of exercise are so comprehensive, you can’t gloss them over. Unfortunately, many employees forego the gym after their daily grind. In an effort to inspire the overworked to work out, we thought we’d reiterate what it can do for you.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise improves your mood, combats chronic disease, helps you manage your weight, boosts your energy levels, promotes better sleeping patterns (see the next slide) and increases your life span. Working out for just a few hours a week can ultimately make your days more enjoyable, so it’s worth it to suffer through the stairmaster.
Get enough sleepAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, “sleeping too little can not only inhibit your productivity and ability to remember and consolidate information, but lack of sleep can also lead to serious health consequences and jeopardize your safety and the safety of individuals around you.”
You can prevent becoming a liability by getting a full night’s sleep, but just how many hours you need varies depending on the individual. The foundation says most adults need at least seven to eight hour a night to stay rested. However, an incurrence of “sleep debt” can cause individuals to need more than that. Either way, sleep deprivation will quickly work up your stress levels, so be mindful of your bedtime.
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Only booze on weekends
Of course, alcohol isn’t really the best thing for you on any day of the week, but we understand that you may want to attend next Friday’s company Happy Hour. That being said, you should keep drinking on work nights to a minimum as a hangover will inhibit your ability to function the next day and lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in your workload (and, consequently, your stress levels.)
If the hangover isn’t enough to dissuade you from a nightcap, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, much research demonstrates that “alcohol actually induces the stress response by stimulating hormone release by the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands.”
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Take part in workplace incentives and programs.
At least one third of U.S. companies are offering financial incentives to get their employees healthier. Whether your company simply offers a rebate for your gym membership or pays you to wear a pedometer, you should use these wellness programs to your advantage. Not only will the program improve your health, but you’ll feel grateful for the benefit.
Similarly, signing up to play for a company baseball team or participating in a work-sanctioned event will promote workplace unity and make the office seem much less daunting.
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Get a hobby
Many adults think that a personal hobby is something they have to give up when they enter the workforce. However, keeping up with those Saturday morning karate classes can keep you calm during the work week.
Personal hobbies give us a sense of fulfillment by keeping us in check. You’re less likely to resent your workplace if you have something else to look forward to outside of it. Many popular hobbies for adults include gardening, photography or Fantasy Football, but you can check out this MainStreet article for some pricier suggestions.
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Take a mental health day
People are hesitant to take off from work in general, let alone for something as seemingly self-centered as a mental health day, but, in this case, narcissism is the point. Allowing yourself to a take a mental health day can curb your workplace resentment. By choosing to put yourself first for one day out of the entire year, you can stay committed to your company for every other day you go into the office.
Take advantage of your self-sanctioned day off by getting a massage, relaxing by a beach or going to see a movie.
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