At the end of every day, you sit and stare at your computer screen. A simple strategy that helps you avoid pulling your hair out. Or if it’s not hair, yelling at the top of your lungs.
Dealing with stress at work is a constant Muhammad Ali upper cut punch to the face and a George St. Pierre knee to the stomach.
Each blow knocks you down and you're hesitant to get back up.
In the world of aviation, it’s AOGs to unreliable vendors. Or maybe for you it’s your boss nagging and putting piles of paperwork on your desk.
Dealing with stress at work doesn't have to be a dream.
Stress comes at an expense...to you and your company.
Productivity is king, but productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee a year, or $225.8 billion annually.
In 2008, workplace injuries resulted in 5,214 fatalities in the United States. Nothing worse than being stressed, careless and then losing your life.
And finally, according to a 2010 CareerBuilder report, 44% of workers have gained weight in their current job and nearly one-third (32%) say that work related stress contributed to their weight gain.
The strategies you take in coping with stress at work can literally save your life and your productivity.
3 ways to cope with stress at work
Dealing with stress at work is highly dependent on your environment. If you can manage your environment, you can manage your stress level.
Change your environment: No matter how much you don't want to admit it, clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed. Organize your desk, throw junk away and keep clutter for the trash. Adding plants is another great way to change your environment. According Ellison Chair in International Floriculture “studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result. Moreover, being outside in a natural environment can improve memory performance and attention span by twenty percent.”
Just breath: Breathing is a cool little habit your body has developed. Breathing exercises are shown to have immediate effects from altering blood pH levels to changing blood pressure. Esther Sternberg, researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, says “rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It's part of the "fight or flight" response — the part activated by stress. In contrast, slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction — the one that calms us down.” Try this breathing technique:
- Sit in a chair facing away from your monitor. Face a wall if you feel more comfortable.
- Place your hands on your knees, back straight and legs at a ninety degree angle.
- Slowly take a long 10 second deep breath through your nose. Your diaphragm should raise, not your stomach.
- Briefly hold your breath…
- Exhale slowly for 10 seconds. Your diaphragm and stomach should cave in.
- Slowly close your eyes.
- Repeat this breathing 9 more times.
- Focus only on your breathing. If a thought occurs, simple let it go and continue to focus on your breathing.
Get up and walk: Just like breathing, walking is a habit ingrained into our physiology. Unfortunately in our office chair epidemic, most of our butts sit in chairs most the day. Besides using a stand up desk, getting up and walking is a great tool to coping with stress at work. It increases endorphins and gets your blood circulating. So get outside and move for a few minutes every hour, it’s not that hard is it? You can eventually further upgrade this strategy by getting yourself a stand up desk.
Practice time management skills: You know how it goes, you have a million things to remember a million and one things to get done. Managing your time is one of the best ways to combat stress and get your life organized. Just like de-cluttering your desk, organize your mind with a time management strategy. Here is more on the topic.
Only you can cope with stress and only you can implement these strategies to become a healthier more productive you.