How to Relieve Stress at Work

How to Reduce Work-related Stress

In what many are calling a modern epidemic, workplace stress has crept into nearly every field and industry. While many regard stress as a minor nuisance, studies have shown that stress can reduce a person's lifespan, while increasing the risk of serious diseases. Here are five simple methods for reducing stress, so you can stay positive and productive while on the job.


Organize your workspace. According to a study out of UCLA, the mere act of looking at clutter can ramp up our bodies' production of stress hormones. If you have clutter in your visual field, you are much more likely to feel anxious and overwhelmed. While a few loose pens and papers might not make much of an impact; stacks of folders, empty coffee mugs and stray post-its can become burdensome over time. Take a few moments to clear your desk and organize your drawers, since unseen clutter can also promote stress.


Ditch your unrealistic goals. It's never a good idea to aim lower than our capabilities. When we have unrealistic expectations, however, we tend to feel stressed and discouraged. After studying 200 college students, researchers at Griffith University in Australia found that subjects experienced less distress when they were able to adjust their career goals based on realistic circumstances. Instead of shooting for the moon with every project, try to set reasonable standards that won't keep you up at night.


Banish interruptions. It's not always easy to stay focused when we are bombarded with ringing phones, unanswered emails, pinging text notifications and talkative colleagues. According to researchers in Germany, however, people tend to experience more stress when they stop to address interruptions. Ideally, you should create a quiet workspace when engaged in a project. If that's not possible, however, do your best to ignore distractions while working. You should also resist the urge to check your phone, social media or email.


Reframe what it means to be stressed. It may sound far-fetched, but there is good reason to believe you can reduce the negative impact of stress by changing how you view it. According to researchers at Yale University, study participants exhibited better work performance and improved psychological symptoms, when they were told that stress can be beneficial. This doesn't mean you have to trick yourself into believing a lie. Instead, you could try to regard stress as your body's way of priming itself to excel at an important task. A recent Ted Talk shed even more light on this concept by demonstrating that how we think about stress greatly impacts the way it affects our mental well-being and long-term health.


Get more sleep. A mountain of research has linked insufficient sleep to increased stress, anxiety and low mood. If you aren't getting from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, focus on improving your sleep hygiene. This means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on holidays and weekends. You should also avoid known sleep disruptors close to bedtime, including caffeine, alcohol and blue light from tablets and smartphones, which has been shown to reduce the body's production of melatonin.


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