Workplace stress is on the rise, impacting a growing number of people at all stages of their working lives. Although it’s natural for work to leave you a little stressed, if you’re a frazzled mess from nine to five, it’s important to step back and relax.
According to a survey recently commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) three in four Australians report that stress is affecting their health.
Reflect for a moment on the level of stress you endure as a consequence of your work. How well do you unwind and release the stressors that have built through the experiences of your day? To what extent is stress impacting your wellbeing and quality of life?
Here are 9 easy ways to de-stress during the workday:
1. Recognise when you are stressed
The first step toward letting go of stress is to know that you are carrying it. Pay attention to how you feel and learn to read the signals that you are allowing work to wind you up or wear you down. Learn to recognise when your body is telling you to take a break and recharge your battery. Look for the signs of stress reflected in your mood and behaviour.
2. Choose your thoughts
Be mindful of what you are thinking both while at work and after you have left for the day. Stop the thoughts that pop into your mind about work issues that will be waiting for you tomorrow. While its natural for your mind to wonder back to work issues from time to time, catch yourself getting caught up and choose a different thought. Choose to see your circumstances in a positive light and avoid the draining impacts pessimistic thinking can have.
3. Focus on what you can control
For many of us stress is exacerbated by feeling out of control or helpless. The reality is many things in our working lives are outside of our control. This is especially true of how other people choose to feel or behave. Focus on the things you can control such as your own thoughts, feelings and actions.
4. Take time out
When stress is mounting try to take a quick break and move away from the situation. Take a stroll outside if possible, spend a few minutes clearing your mind in a breakout room or have a brief chat to a colleague. Physical movement, fresh air, sunshine and laughter are just some of the ways you can quickly reduce stress before it sets in to your psyche and day.
5. Begin to unwind at the end of your work day
Take steps to unwind from your day at work before you get home. For some people listening to music or talk back radio can be a great way to disconnect from the events of their day. Take a few moments before you leave work to write a list of things you can worry about tomorrow. Writing things down can be a useful way of putting them out of your mind while you take a break.
6. Beware the pitfalls of perfectionism
No matter how hard you try you are unlikely to ever be perfect at everything you do. Take accountability for the standard of your contribution, but accept also that you will make mistakes and some outcomes will fall short of your expectations. Accept that aiming for your best is all anyone can expect from you.
7. Get moving
Exercise is a great stress reliever. Whether on a treadmill at the gym, doing sit-ups in your lounge room, or doing some gardening, any movement will make a positive difference to your mental health. Look for ways you enjoy being active. Its OK if you’re not a fan of donning the lycra and getting out on your bike. Spend time expending energy in ways you will find most rewarding. Even light exercise such as taking a stroll around the block at the end of your day will help relieve stress.
8. Finish the tough stuff first
Try to get your most complicated tasks out of the way early in the day so that they’re not looming over you for hours. Think of it as a “best for last” technique and you’ll start to look forward to your afternoons.
9. Connect with a friend
Socializing is one of the easiest ways to distract yourself from everyday anxieties, so call up a pal to chat for a few minutes. Try to avoid any work-related venting and stick to fun, tension-free topics instead.