It shouldn’t come as a shocker that a person’s job can be incredibly stressful. While everyone deals with stress on some level throughout their normal work day, sometimes it becomes way too much to handle. If this happens, it’s incredibly important to take a step back and figure out what you can change throughout your day to help alleviate some of your work-related anxiety. In fact, making some of these changes will not only have a positive impact on your workday, but on your life as a whole. Relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself on a daily basis by doing the following steps:
1. Easing Into Your Day
A lot of us like to hit the ground running, getting as much work done as quickly as possible. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being a go-getter, doing so can start to wear on you after a while. If you’ve gotten to the point that you start completing work-related duties (such as checking and replying to emails) before you even step foot in the office, you should probably dial it back a bit. Wake up a little earlier so you can enjoy a relaxing breakfast with your family or catch up on the news. Your work will be there waiting for you when you sit down at your desk; I promise.
2. Controlling Only What You Can
We’ve all heard the beginning of the Serenity Prayer:
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
There’ll always be things that are within your control and those that will always be out of your grasp. If something is out of your hands, learn to let it go. Instead, focus on doing the best you can with the things you do have control over. Of course, for the most part, the only things you truly have control over are yourself and your own duties. Your colleagues may disappoint you in one way or another, but as long as you do the best job you can do, you should be able to go home happy at the end of each and every day.
3. Taking Breaks
People aren’t robots; we’re not designed to be able to focus for hours and hours at a time on a single task. If you’re starting to feel stressed out, break up your workload into smaller chunks. No one’s going to know if you take a fake bathroom break for a couple minutes to regain your composure.
Not only will taking breaks help alleviate stress, but you’ll also be more efficient in your work. When you’re completely burnt out, it’s only logical to realize that you won’t be working to your full potential. On the other hand, if you’ve been taking short breaks every couple of hours, you’re sure to come back to your desk refreshed and ready to roll.
Who hasn’t wanted to spend some time knocking around a punching bag after a long day of work? Exercising both during and outside of work can help lower your overall stress levels. Like I just said, exerting some physical energy after the five o’clock whistle blows is a great way to blow off some steam and keep your body in shape in the process. But there are also many ways you can get some exercise in during the work day. For example, you might replace your office chair with an exercise ball even for just a short time. At lunch, instead of sitting around in the break room, go take a walk around your building. It might take a little effort to get moving, but the long-term benefits to your health and stress levels definitely make it worth it.
5. Changing Your Diet
Like the Snickers’ commercial says: You’re not you when you’re hungry. I mentioned before the importance of eating a good breakfast, but keeping stress at bay requires you eat healthy all the time, not just when you have the chance. Eating fatty and sugary foods might make you feel good in the moment but will ultimately come back to haunt you through headaches and stomach cramps, among other things that we don’t really need to mention. Of course, if you’re physically feeling like garbage throughout your work week, it will only exacerbate your stress levels. Stick to fruits and vegetables for a quick snack, and stay away from cheap, greasy meals from your local fast-food joint.
6. Using Time Off Wisely
So maybe you just absolutely hate your job and you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you’re going to be miserable from 9-5 every day. Full disclosure: we’ve all been there. You might not be happy with your work life, but it’s important to remember that you work so you can enjoy the time you have to yourself. Don’t just come home after a long day and spend the rest of the evening staring at the TV while thinking about everything you’re going to have to deal with the following day. Use your time off to work on a hobby, get together with family or friends, or learn a new skill that will help you find a new job. If you truly hate your job, you should use every ounce of energy you have to find something better.
7. Remembering to Breathe
Something happens to our minds and bodies when we get stressed out: We actually forget to breathe sometimes. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ll know one of the major components of the exercise is taking full, deep, conscious breaths in order to calm your body down while stretching it to its limits. On the other hand, if you’ve ever experienced even a mild panic attack, you probably caught yourself taking short, gasping breaths that only served to increase your stress levels. Taking deep breaths during stressful situations helps you distance yourself from the issues at hand, and allows you to regain control of your body when you feel that you are starting to lose it. Remember to breathe, and everything will be okay.
8. Remembering to Laugh
I know it might be difficult to do when you’re at your breaking point, but it’s incredibly important to be able to stand back and laugh at the ridiculousness of the situations you may find yourself in on a daily basis. Pretend you’re a standup comedian moonlighting at a “real” job in order to get material for your next act. Instead of getting angry and upset over other people’s foolishness, learn to laugh it off, and thank God you’re not them. That should help get you through most days, I hope!
Work-related stress can be an absolute killer. But it doesn’t have to be. Rather than letting your anxiety control you, learn to control your anxiety. It’s definitely not easy to do, but being able to harness negative energy and replace it with a positive aura, you’ll continue to grow stronger each and every day.