How To Manage Your Office Stress
While I would love for this blog title to read Getting Rid of Office Stress, I’m afraid that there’s no way to eliminate anxiety and stress centered on work. However, there are ways that you can manage your stress and use it as a positive motivation rather than fearing and avoiding it.
Just as adrenaline is a natural bodily reaction, so is stress. Our bodies and minds enter a stressed state when we experience or view a situation as high-pressure. And like adrenaline, we can react in a similar fight or flight style when dealing with our stress, and when we chose the ‘fight’ option, we can benefit from our stress.
Use it to challenge yourself to be better. Try to beat the pressing deadline, ask your team for the help and support that you deserve, set a new personal record for yourself. Most people classify their 9 to 5 as stressful, but when you learn to take control of the situation and own the pressure, you’ll be able to achieve so much more.
It’s important to know when to keep pushing, but it’s also important to know when to take a break.
It’s no secret that going on binges isn’t good for your health (yes, even binging Netflix) and the same is true about your work. You have to give yourself time to rest both mentally and physically. Taking breaks can mean leaving your desk for lunch (while leaving your work at your desk) or going to the break room for a cup of water or coffee every so often.
It can be extremely beneficial to your mental health to let your mind relax for even just five minutes once every hour. Another great form of a break comes as a hobby. Maybe it’s a photography group after work, a language course through Duolingo (most lessons take 10 minutes or less), or a daily origami challenge. Find something that brings you joy and find a way to work it into your day. This will help to provide your mind with something else to focus on that isn’t stressful.
Finding something you enjoy doing at work is wonderful but it will also require you to be more dedicated. If you become too wrapped up in your language lesson and are becoming fluent in Turkish but missing project deadlines, you have only created more bad stress for yourself. Anyone will tell you that to be successful, you must first know how to effectively manage your time. How you organize your workday is completely up to you. Some proven, effective means of organization include using daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists to prioritize your schedule.
If you’re not sure what hobby to pick-up that won’t turn into a distraction, daily exercise is a great habit to adopt. For starters, exercise is a proven stress reducer. A quick workout for a portion of your lunch hour can help to create blood flow, lower stress, and spark new ideas. Some companies offer gym membership reimbursement, exercise programs built into the workweek, and equipment like a treadmill desk.
While knowing when to take a break and having hobbies can help to reduce stress, sometimes you can’t do it alone and need outside help to get ahead of your stress. There is plenty of research to support the claim that having friends at work is good for you. Having a person or two at the office who is both a co-worker and a friend is like having a built-in support system who is guaranteed to understand where your stress is stemming from. They’re there to help keep you positive, provide a break in the day, help you meet your deadlines, and to make sure you aren’t working through your lunches.
If your line of work doesn’t provide you with coworkers or maybe you’re a level 10 introvert, you might find that keeping a stress journal is helpful. Stress journals are a way for you to vent and blow off steam while guaranteeing to not let anything you say slip out to another coworker. But mainly, stress journals can be a way to bring to light any specific events or triggers that cause stress and panic attacks. As you progress, you can add notes about how you overcame or managed the stress – giving you a way to learn what does and doesn’t work for you.
Yes, all these methods have their place and can help manage your stress at the office. However, the best method isn’t anything new or earth-shattering. You’ve probably heard this advice a thousand times and for whatever reason are still searching for some new-age answers. Leave your work at work! That’s it. That is how you give yourself the ultimate break to enjoy hobbies, to work out, to have dinner with friends and family, to journal or write a book, to binge Netflix, or whatever it is that brings you joy. The key to not becoming buried under your stress is to not make a habit of taking your work home with you. There are, of course, exemptions where you should consider working late or taking a few key pieces home, but be careful to not make this a habit.
Stress is a natural part of both life and work. How you learn to manage and face it, however, will be what determines if you are successful or a constant ball of anxiety.
By: Miranda Hardesty Hoffpauir