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How to reduce stress at work: top five tips

A bit of pressure at work can be motivating, but when the pressure becomes too much, it can lead to stress. It’s crucial to find ways to manage your stress as it can lead to health problems, including headaches, heart palpitations and even high blood pressure.

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Stress can also have a negative impact on your productivity and affect your relationships with your co-workers, through increased anxiety, trouble concentrating and insomnia. According to ComPsych’s 2012 Stress Pulse survey on the effect of stress on daily productivity, 41% of respondents indicated they lose 15 to 30 minutes of productivity a day, while 35% said they lose one hour or more per day. Increasing competition in the workplace means it’s important to tackle stress effectively so you can stay on top of your game.

Recognising these signs is the first step towards building your resilience. Fortunately there are some simple strategies that can help you to improve your workplace wellness.

five ways to reduce stress infographic

Get moving

Exercise is a great stress reliever. Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and gets the blood flowing, which can help to boost your mood and focus. When you’re in the office, the easiest way to take a quick, stress-relieving exercise break is to climb the stairs. It’s easy to fit into your day, doesn’t require any special clothes or equipment and it’s free.

Stair climbing is officially classed as a vigorous exercise and releases your brain’s feel-good chemicals, called endorphins, which make you feel happier.

Build stair climbing into your daily routine as a way to manage your stress and help you focus more effectively.

Step away

Walking away from a stressful situation, or if you feel stress mounting, may help you to clear your thoughts and better deal with things. Breathing slowly and in a regular rhythm will help you to calm down. Take some time to collect your thoughts as this will give you some space from the cause of stress which can help shift your perspective, helping to to reframe your situation in a more positive light.

Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly reduce stress, so go for a walk, climb the stairs to release endorphins or just find somewhere quiet to sit for 10 minutes.

Manage your time

Don’t over-commit yourself or try to cram too much into your day. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but one which causes more harm than good, so be realistic with your expectations and learn to say no. By taking on too much, you could end up doing nothing well.

Try to prioritise your tasks and move things that can wait to the bottom of your to-do list. It’s also important to take time out for regular breaks. While it’s tempting to keep going to get the job done, taking a short break will help you focus and improve your productivity, making you feel better about your work.

Walk away from your desk, climb some stairs and try to get out for a break at lunch. It’s also motivating to set aside a couple of evenings a week away from work doing something which you really enjoy. Taking a walk in nature or going to a yoga class are both great ways of reducing stress levels and taking care of yourself.

Talk to someone

If you feel the signs of stress, try to deal with it before it makes you fatigued or even ill. Talking to someone is a good way to reduce stress and sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend or a colleague can help you to let off steam. You can even try keeping a journal to write down all your thoughts and feelings in private, but remember that seeking out support from friends, family and colleagues is really important too.

Speak to your manager as many encourage workplace wellness and will help find a solution. Employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees.

Build healthy habits

Don’t rely on unhealthy habits such as alcohol, smoking or caffeine as a way of coping with your stress as these won’t solve your problems. They only offer temporary relief and are likely create new problems in the long-term.

Instead, try some simple swaps to build new sustainable habits into your day to day routine to help build your resilience to stress. Try to ensure you eat healthy foods and stay hydrated. Swap your morning croissant for an apple as this will give you the same energy burst without spiking your blood sugar levels, meaning you don’t have to go through that dreaded energy slump.

It’s also important to take regular breaks and keep moving. Rather than waiting impatiently in the queue for the lift, take the stairs instead.

Studies show that, up to 7 floors, taking the stairs is almost always quicker so you’ll actually save time and you’ll get the added benefit of the endorphin release which will help to relax you further.

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