Picture this: you were late to work again because of road construction, you have what seems like a million new emails in your inbox, too many seemingly impossible deadlines to meet by end of day, a thousand phone calls to return and your boss just asked you to stay late tonight to go over some new projects. Your phone is on the fritz. You need to pick up dog food and milk on your way home. You’re having a bad hair day, hardly got any sleep last night and keep forgetting to return your grandmothers phone calls. This may not be an exact snap shot of your average day, per say, but most can relate to the multitude of reasons to feel stressed at work. Lately it seems like people wear anxiety like a badge of honor, with the new stress culture becoming more and more prominent in North American society. But, as we all well know, stress is bad for us and can wreak havoc on our health. It messes with our hearts, our heads and our hormones. It can also be a hazard in the workplace, causing a negative, anxious and resentful environment among employees. No thanks! Here are a few easy ways to reduce your daily work stress!
Close to 80% of Canadians drive to work, spending on average anywhere from 25-50 minutes in the car. The ride to the office can be one of the most stressful activities with the majority of drivers feeling agitated, annoyed, anxious and rushed. Sufficed to say this is not the best way to start the day. The good news is, there are lots of ways to reduce the en-route stress. First: breathe! It might sound redundant but when we’re feeling tense our breath is the first thing to go and then it becomes a vicious cycle, as shallower breaths only increase our body’s anxiety. Concentrating on the air circulating in the body can help soothe stress. Try taking a few deep inhales whenever the car stops, either in a traffic jam or at a stoplight. Next, sit up straight. Research shows that better posture will not only help facilitate easier breathing (full circle moment) but it can also help elevate confidence mood and reduce negative and anxious feelings. Finally, turn up the radio. Studies show that listening to happy music leads to an increase in dopamine, the happy hormone!
Walk It Off
Turns out the old coaching cliché is true: you can literally walk off stress at the office. Research proves that breaking up the day by taking a stroll, even just around the block, can drastically and immediately refresh and revitalize our brains and our attitudes. Not only do people report feeling less anxious after a leisurely walk but they also claim to feel more enthusiastic and productive upon return to their desks. If you can’t steal away for a saunter at lunchtime, even just getting off the desk chair and taking a stroll around the office will help encourage a happier attitude.
We all know eating well is good for the body but did you know a healthy diet is also essential for the mind? Yes, the foods we eat throughout the day can greatly influence our mental well-being. It has been shown that those who eat more processed junk food feel worse about themselves than those who eat more whole fruits and vegetables. Instead of snacking on that Danish from the cafeteria, load up your desk with real food snacks, like organic protein bars, nuts and seeds or sliced fruits and veggies.
Carving out time to eat a healthy lunch away from the desk is also an essential component to feeling good and energized. When we eat in front of the computer we tend to eat more. When we consume meals while distracted (think watching TV or responding to emails between bites) we are less likely to be able to recognize whether we’re full or not – leading to a higher consumption of calories. Eating while working also reduces the chances of getting up and walking around (see Tip #2). Walking to lunch is a great excuse to leaving the desk and the stress that comes with it. Lastly, having lunch in your cubicle is a solitary activity and means you lose the opportunity for good social interaction, however brief they may be. Studies indicate that socializing during your lunch hour helps reduce stress, depression and even blood pressure, as well as boost mood and overall office morale!