Okay...So let's face it, we may love...errr.. like our jobs but sometimes stress at work is something that's unavoidable! Maybe it is a short-lived moment of problem-solving a solution or a 6-month long project that is making you feel the pressure; either way, it's always good to know how to deal with stress when it hits you. Did you know that when we are stressed our body actually focuses our energy and blood AWAY from the brain? Really, the more stressed we are, the less effective we are at actually doing our jobs! (A solid reason to ask for more vacation days I'd say!)
But in all seriousness, while it may not be possible to completely rid yourself of stress while at work, here are some simple strategies you can use to give yourself a little relief.
Take a few deep breaths!
While this may seem simple, it has been scientifically proven that taking 3, deep, cleansing breaths can actually increase blood-flow and oxygen to our brain and muscles, making us feel instantly a little calmer and clear-headed. Next time you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe. Take in a slow, deep breath through your nose for the count of 5, hold it for 1 and then exhale through your mouth for the count of 4-7. Repeat this 2 or 3 times and don't get stressed if your breathing count is off; if you feel relaxed, it's working! If you can, as a bonus close your eyes and give yourself a true separation from the stressful moment.
Step away from the task at hand!
This may seem counterproductive, but you know the saying, "you cannot see the forest beyond the tree" (or something like that)? It basically means that when we are too wrapped up in something we fail to see the obvious solutions that might be right in front of us. Getting stuck on a problem over and over leads to increased frustration and a reduced sense of confidence in one's ability to succeed. So in order to prevent this, take 5 minutes out of your busy work schedule and do something else; literally anything else, in order to get your mind off things and get a fresh perspective. Maybe try a stroll outside the building or just a quick visit to the water cooler!
Get-up and move!
Physical activity provides an outlet to burn off some stressful energy. I'm some ways, the more vigorous the workout, typically the more relieved we feel; however don't jump into an intense exercise routine without first consulting with your physician! If you don't have time to see your doctor or just haven't been to the gym in a few years, try going for a brisk walk outside to clear your head and give your body the opportunity to loosen up!
Get some sleep!!
Maybe you had some all-nighters in college or early in your career where you were energized by your work and were able to stay awake for 2 or 3 days at a time. Very cool, great stories to tell the grandkids! In actuality though keeping your body awake for endless amounts of time is not a good thing in the long run. When our bodies lack sleep, our immune system is weakened, our mind is less sharp and we overall lose the mental stamina needed to solve simple solutions. Moral of the story? Make sure you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to ensure your body is fully rested. If you find that your mind is hard to shut-off at night, try cutting ties with all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Eat a balanced diet
In order for our bodies to be able to handle the stress of a deadline or major work project at work, we need to fuel it properly! Be sure to eat your fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Find yourself always running to the vending machine? Try to pack some nutrition filled snacks for work to feel energized if you start to feel sluggish on the job!
Again, while these 5 quick strategies aren't going to completely remove your stress at work, they can hopefully provide at least a little relief and set you up for a lifetime of work successes! Good luck, and remember, don't forget to take a breath!!