Four Simple Strategies to Reduce Office Stress

As discussed in a previous post, stress in the workplace is no small concern. The fact that it doesn’t feel good is the least of its problems: beyond simple headaches, stress leads to a startlingly dire spectrum of physical, mental and emotional issues.

Worse, office stress is on the rise worldwide. According to Korn Ferry, in the span of 30 years employees have become 20% more stressed about their jobs. Similarly, the American Institute of Stress points to the combined topic of work issues as the leading cause of anxiety.

While fixing office stress will take definite effort, for now, you can at least keep yourself sane through the workday with these tips.

1. Divide Your Tasks

See that towering pile of paperwork? That alarming influx of emails? The sheer size of it all probably makes you want to scream.

An easy fix here is to break your workload into manageable chunks. Instead of focusing on the total number of documents you need to file in one day, tell yourself you’ll have five reports filed after one hour — then 10 after two hours, and so on.

With this “divide and conquer” approach, not only will you stop stressing over a seemingly unreachable end goal, you’ll also highlight the real progress you’re making.

2. Take Breaks

In the thick of a tough day at work, one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing is to take a break.

That’s not based on psychology, not laziness. Studies have shown that, in fact, stepping away from your desk will improve your productivity.

In other words, by taking a few minutes to shake off stress, your brain will return to work nimbler than before.

Of course, you shouldn’t use breaks to avoid tasks altogether. The point is simply that if feel you need to rest, you probably should.

3. Cut Down on Coffee

Yes, I know: coffee is a savior in the office. It’s what perks you up in the morning, and what speeds up slow afternoons. (I actually started writing this article with a fresh cup!)

Still, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. More coffee rarely equals more
productivity
; since caffeine spurs the creation of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” too many cups will make you feel more afflicted than before.

Sure, it’s fine to drink your usual brew. Just do your stress levels a favor and know when to stop.

4. Just Breathe

When people say “take a deep breath,” they’re speaking with a surprising amount of scientific truth. During stressful periods, deep, measured breathing is a proven way to soothe yourself.

My favorite exercise is the “4-7-8” technique. Like the name implies, it involves three separate steps: inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, then exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. It’s easy to remember, and, better yet, it works to calm you quickly.

So if all else fails, remember that literally taking a breather is always an effective option.

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