Improve Your Stress Resiliency at Work.
Stress seems to be a perpetual part of our lives. According to the American Institute of Stress (yes, this is a real thing!), “Job stress carries a price tag for U.S. industry estimated at over $300 billion annually.”
Longer work hours and less separation of our personal and professional lives can make it harder for us to actually relax. That’s why it’s so important to build up our stress resiliency - our ability to bounce back from adversity, drama, and the chaos of the everyday. Here are some tips to relieve stress while you’re on (and off) the job.
Reduce the number of decisions you have to make in the morning.
Clutter plays a role in the accumulation of micro-decisions. You might not realize you processed that pile of Target returns in the corner, the dirty dishes in the sink, or that plant that needs to be watered, but you did. And all of these seemingly innocuous decisions add up, making it nearly impossible to find the mental capacity (aka: willpower) to handle things the way you want later in the day.
By reducing the number of decisions you have to make in the morning, you leave more space to respond, verses react. And that can mean a lot less stress long-term.
2. Add a little movement.
Exercise in almost any form can be a great stress reliever. It boosts your feel-good endorphins and distracts you from daily worries. You might try biking to work, create a walking lunch club, or initiate a 3pm stretch. No time before work? There are lots of light movements you can do while in dress clothes. Jumping jacks, plank poses, wall sits, arm stretches. Every little bit helps.
3. Eat breakfast.
Starting the day without breakfast leaves your cortisol levels high, essentially starting the day in fight or flight mode. It also slows your metabolism, which can contribute to faster weight gain. Add a healthy smoothie, overnight oats, and a big glass of water to your breakfast routine.
4. Start a gratitude practice
For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.
5. Create a welcoming workspace.
Psychologists call it the beautiful view. Every little thing that you see or do that sparks a little joy impacts your mood. So having a clean clean and inviting desk, really does make a difference!
6. Try a moving or breathing meditation.
A daily meditation practice literally helps you re-wire your brain, so you’ll feel more at-ease, present, and connected. Meditation is an effective way to learn how to separate thoughts and emotions in order to reduce anxiety, depression, and even stress. One or two minutes of meditation each day can make a huge difference.
7. Eat healthier.
Bring healthy snacks, a water bottle, frozen lunches, and post-work snack with you. Apples, bananas, clementines, and non-sugary granola bars are all great options.
8. Engage your senses.
Setup an aroma therapy diffuser. Bring in your favorite tea or a little bit of dark chocolate. Engaging your senses (in a positive way) helps to elevate even the most monotonous tasks.
9. Use your vacation days.
Plan a vacation and then take it. You don’t even have to leave your city. Giving yourself some space away from work to relax will help you think more creatively and help look at work and life from a different perspective. AND having something to look forward to can also make those long work days go by a little faster.
You might even use a few of your vacation days to go on a wellness/meditation retreat or declutter your home.
10. Don’t skip lunch.
Every heard the term Hangry — hungry and angry? Skipping meals puts your body into survival mode, raises you cortisol levels and slows down your metabolism rates, which makes it harder to lose weight.
“First, your blood sugar decreases, which causes interruption in your ability to think straight,” says Robinson. “The brain uses glucose to run efficiently and if there is not enough glucose for the brain to use, your body does not function at 100 percent.” Low blood sugar causes people to feel irritable, confused and fatigued. The body begins to increase production of cortisol, leaving us stressed.
“When you skip a meal or go a long time without eating, your body goes into survival mode,” says Robinson. “This causes your cells and body to crave food which causes you to eat a lot! We usually tend to crave unhealthy foods and all attempts at eating healthy go out the door. When you are that hungry, anything goes!”
11. Don’t eat at your desk.
You really can’t do two things at once. Eating at your desk while you try to answer emails, not only leaves you practically chained to your desk for 8+ hours, but leaves you feeling lonely. Having a little camaraderie at work goes a long way for improving your mood.
12. Do 5 minute favors.
Send a news article or recipe that you think someone might like, share a compliment, or make an introduction that might make someones day.
13. Care a little less.
Most of us aren’t working jobs that literally are saving the world. While it’s important to be engaged what you do, sometimes it pays to care a little less. We are all replaceable. If we got hit by a bus tomorrow, they’d find someone to do your work. There’s no reason to raise your voice or your heart-rate, lose sleep, or let your health falter over which color should be used on the new logo, who’s “idea” it was for the new project, or always have the last word. Sometimes, it pays to care a little bit less. Bonus: It also means you have a lot more energy to put into the things you do care about.
Can’t step away from your desk? Try this. On an inhale, tense up a specific part of your foot or leg, hold it for a moment, and then release the muscle on your exhale. It’s simple, it’s subtle, and it really works.
15. Add a plant or two.
16. Setup a mantra poster.
Add a mindful mantra poster, a picture of a place you’d like to visit, or a picture of your family and/or friends sharing a happy moment. These little visuals help remind us of all the good stuff in our lives, especially when we’re having a bad day.
Be sure to replace the photos regularly so you continue to notice them.
17. Take five minutes to Watch something that makes you laugh.
When we’re happy, we’re more creative and productive and a lot less stressed.
18. When you leave work, literally brush your shoulders off.
Creating little rituals around leaving the stress of work, at work, can do wonders for your mental health. You might also try changing your clothes or taking a quick shower right after work.
Schedule yourself some much needed downtime. Just because you’re free to hangout, bake cookies, or work late doesn’t mean you should. Make it a point to under commit.
20. Create a pump-up and wind down playlist for your drive to and from work.
Or find an audio book or podcast you love to help you unwind.
22. Change up your routine.
All work and no play makes life dull. Stimulate your senses. Try something you’ve never tried before. Visit someplace you’ve never been before.