How to Alleviate Stress and Blow Off Steam at Work

By Ashley Paskill on January 18, 2019

Work, no matter how great the job is, can arise at any time. Even if a job is your dream job or field, stress will likely show up at some point, especially as you continue to grow and take on more responsibility. However, some jobs are highly stressful and show no signs of letting up. No matter what, there seems to be a never-ending stream of tasks that need to get done and your boss keeps nitpicking minor mistakes that you make, making it seem that you can do nothing right. This level of stress can make you dread going to work each day.  If your job fits this description, there are a few ways to help you cope while at work and at home.

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Take advantage of breaks

According to a 2016 New York Times magazine article, 62% of professionals have admitted to eating lunch at their desks. However, it is better to avoid eating lunch at your desk. Even if you have a ton of work to catch up on, you need to take a break. The work you need to complete will still be there when you get back. When you do have lunch, make sure you eat something nutritious and nourishing for your body. This will help give you the energy you need to get things done.

Go for a walk on your lunch break. One way to ensure that you do not eat lunch at your desk is to go for a walk. Whether you walk to a local café to pick up some food, run an errand or two, or walk around the building to stretch, actually finding an excuse to go somewhere on your lunch break will get you up and moving. This will also ensure that you take your lunch break, especially since so many professionals decide to work through lunch. Taking your lunch break and getting away from your desk allows you to step away from what you are working on and come back with a fresh set of eyes. This will help you come up with new solutions to a problem you may be having difficulty solving or help alleviate stress from a high-pressure task.

Do not hesitate to take restroom breaks when you need to. You are an adult and in a workplace, you do not have to ask permission to use the restroom. Obviously, avoid going in the middle of an important meeting, but if you are working on a solo task and are making steady progress, it is a good time to take a restroom break. Just do not make a habit of going to the restroom just to procrastinate. Holding it until you are finished a task may seem like a logical thing to do, but if you really have to go, it can be distracting, so it is better to go.

Write down your tasks for the day

Bosses and other coworkers may send you your tasks via email or through group messaging platforms. Sometimes, you may get tasks sent both ways. Going back and forth between platforms can be challenging since you have to make sure you keep up with everything. Writing down your tasks as they come in from all outlets will help you visualize what you have to get done and help you stay organized. Besides, there is nothing more satisfying than physically crossing completed tasks off your to-do list.

Keep a calendar or planner at your desk. This will help you keep track of deadlines so that you can prioritize things that need to get done. Being able to prioritize tasks will allow you to get the things that are done sooner done first, helping you stay organized and not get stressed out by a seemingly endless list of things you need to get done. It will also alleviate the pressure to get everything done all at once, which can cause immense stress.

work stress

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Find an outlet for your stress

While it can be tempting to keep your stress bundled up inside of you, it is not healthy to do so. Finding little outlets for relieving stress throughout the day can help you clear your mind and keep the stress from building up. Harvesting stress within you will only make things ugly when it gets to be too much, so finding healthy ways to release it is crucial.

Practice breathing exercises. After you complete a task or finish a meeting, practice breathing exercises to clear your mind for the next thing you have to accomplish for the day. Breathing exercises can help center you and release stress from work stress. There are a wide variety of breathing exercises available on YouTube. These videos range from a few minutes to over 10 minutes long, so choose a video based on what you need and how much time you are allotted between tasks.

Listen to music while you work if it does not distract you and if you are allowed to. Music can help you focus, and certain songs may lift your spirits. It has the power to change your mood completely. Make a playlist of songs that energize you, motivate you, and make you focused. Bring headphones so that your music does not distract coworkers who find music while working distracting.

Dress as comfortably as you can

You may not always be able to control the stress that goes on around you, but if you be comfortable, you can at least handle things a bit better. There are few things worse than being uncomfortably dressed and having to deal with stress at work. Being uncomfortable can make you even more irritable and upset.

Dress in layers so that you can add or remove layers depending on the office temperature. This is a must, especially if you are constantly getting into arguments about adjusting the thermostat or are always getting up to change the temperature. Dressing in layers allows you to be comfortable in the office, regardless of what temperature it is. Not messing with the thermostat will give you time to get things done. Avoiding arguments with coworkers will help you reduce stress.

Make sure you keep the dress code and dress professionally. Wear clothes that fit you properly, as clothes that do not can be uncomfortable. There are a variety of nice clothes that are comfortable yet dressy and professional. If you are unsure of your company’s dress code or if things have changed recently, make sure you are caught up and are wearing clothes that fall within standards. When in doubt about an outfit, opt for another one and check with coworkers or a boss to see if it is acceptable.

Created by Ashley Paskill

Do not be afraid to ask for help

Often times, we are made to feel like we need to do everything on our own to get ahead at work. We are told to not ask stupid questions and to find answers on our own. We face dauntingly large to-do lists with stressful deadlines. Asking for help may feel like you are admitting you are weak, but it is actually a sign of strength. Knowing your limits and breaking point is a sign that you know yourself. Asking for help from coworkers when a problem arises is okay. Ask them or go to the internet to find help before approaching your boss for questions for how to do something. Also, if a coworker is not busy and is looking for something to do, you can ask your supervisor if the coworker can help you with your project. This will allow you to bond with a coworker who understands your stress and will allow you to have one less stressful task to do on your own.

Communicate with coworkers and managers

Feeling alone and like an outsider is one of the major stressors in a workplace. Having coworkers you get along with can help you have people to talk to if a boss or another coworker is getting on your case. It is nice to have people who understand the stresses that come with your job. Even if you have friends outside of your job, they may not completely understand all that your job entails. Coworkers who are also friends can allow you to have a group of people who support you and your professional achievements.

If your manager is giving you more work than you can handle, let him or her know that you are struggling with the stress of having too much to do. Be open and honest about anything else that may be causing stress in your life. Managers need to know what is happening with their employees, and if the employees’ morale is low, it is important for managers to know why and how to fix the problem. Being able to be honest with a manager can make your work environment less stressful since you have an open connection with your boss.

Stay true to having a work-life balance

If you are given a lot of tasks at work, it may be tempting to stay late or do work tasks at home at night or on weekends. You may also find yourself checking your work email or answering work calls or texts outside of work hours. While you hope these things help you stand out to your boss as someone who works hard, taking work home with you or staying late on a regular basis messes with your life outside of work. Maintaining a work-life balance is crucial for reducing work stress and keeping relationships and other activities outside of work healthy.

Try to get all of your work tasks done during work hours so you do not have to stay late. Many times, we are taught that staying late is one way to impress your boss, but if you do it too much, it can take a toll on your personal life. Staying late on a regular basis cuts into time with family and friends as well as evening activities you may enjoy. One way to make sure you have plans for the evening. Not only will this give you the motivation you need to get things done on time, but it will also give you something to look forward to, which will help alleviate stress. While it is okay to stay late once in a while, especially if you have important deadlines coming up, making a habit of it will make your boss expect it of you. This is unfair to you and your loved ones who want to spend time with you. One way to combat the need to stay late is to arrive at work early to get caught up on tasks or to get ahead of things. Ask your boss for tasks ahead of time so that you can get them done.

Avoid responding to work communications on off hours or days off. You need time off in order to rest and go back to work with a clear mind and new outlook on things. Unless there is a massive crisis in your company that requires immediate attention, you owe it to yourself to have time off. If you have both a personal and a work cell phone, keep your work phone off and out of reach when you are off the clock. Avoid having your work emails set up on an app on your cell phone. Have it so that you have to go through your web browser to check it. Since this process takes more time, you will be less likely to check it.

Use time off benefits, especially if they expire after a certain point in the year. Even if you are a part-time employee at your job, you may still have time off benefits, so check with human resources to see what your company offers. Many young professionals are less likely to use time off benefits because they are determined to get ahead. However, taking a few days off can allow you to relax and catch up on chores at home if you decide to do a staycation. Even taking a day trip is a nice break from the routine. If you are sick, use paid sick time to rest, see a doctor, and focus on feeling better. It is better to stay home rather than go into work and risk getting everyone else sick. Chances are, you will not be as focused on your tasks if you are not feeling well.

Stress at work is almost inevitable, but if handled correctly, it can be managed or eliminated for at least a little bit. You spend most of your time at work, so you might as well minimize the amount of stress you have to deal with.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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