As any professional knows, work can present numerous sources of stress at the best of times. So when the inbox is heaving, presentations still need tinkering and there’s a big meeting 15 minutes away, stress levels can easily go through the roof. While it’s perfectly normal to have ups and downs on the job, being in a constant state of stress can wreak havoc on our health and well-being, leading to poor sleep, anxiety, tension and high blood pressure that can follow us home and impact our overall quality of life even in our free time. That’s why it’s so important to do what you can to keep stress at bay and ensure yourself peace of mind while at work. Here are some simple methods you can employ to stay sane when the pressure’s on and help make sure you won’t be dreading getting up for work in the morning.
Eating healthy at work takes less effort than you think and can help stabilize your mood. Avoid regularly eating high glycemic junk food like crisps and chocolate, as these can lead to sugar spikes and sluggishness while providing little to no nutritional benefit. If you want to snack at your desk, choose healthier options like:
- Fresh and dried fruit
- Unsalted nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Hummus with carrot and celery sticks
Not only will these foods leave you fuller for longer, but they’ll also help you get the vitamins and nutrients you need and provide plenty of omega-3 fats that can help with cognitive agility. Swapping out the espresso for antioxidant-rich green tea can also help keep you from overconsumption of caffeine which can often leave you feeling stressed out and tightly wound.
Make the Most of Your Break
The lunch break provides you with the best opportunity you’ll have to break up the work day and give your brain a break from the responsibilities of the office. Unfortunately, far too many of us squander this chance by having lunch at our desks while browsing the internet or staring at our phones. Instead, leave the office every day and go for a quick walk to get your circulation up and help the endorphins flow. It’s also good to get some mood-lifting exposure to sunlight, which is all too easy to miss out when you stay rooted to your desk. Try and have your lunch in a park, where you can kick off your shoes, take in some nature and let your mind wander.
Personalize Your Workspace
When you feel your workload is getting the better of you, greying cubicle walls aren’t going to offer much comfort. That’s why it’s essential to put some time and effort into augmenting your work area to create an environment that you’ll be happy to spend long periods of time in. Some places to start might include:
- Making sure you have a comfortable chair that offers good back support
- Getting a rug to put under your chair
- Picking out a new desk lamp
- Adding some prints of your favorite artworks
- Putting up some personal photos
- Buying some plants
- Leaving some of your favorite books piled up by your computer
It’s also a good idea to make sure your desk is well organized and kept properly supplied with office stationary: wasting time scrabbling around a messy draw looking for a stapler isn’t going to do anything positive for your stress levels when you’re in the middle of a deadline crunch.
Take Exercise Where You Can
It’s very easy to stay sedentary in the office, but this can have serious ramification for our long-term health and lead to mood disorders and low morale. The good news is that it’s easy to make a few tweaks to your working habits to make sure that you’re staying active even if you’re working a desk job. Take the stairs instead of the elevator every day. Get off your bus or train a couple of stops early and walk the rest of your commute. You could even take some time from your lunch break to do some simple resistance exercises, or even make a quick trip to the gym for the more fitness-oriented among us. Exercise is a great way of nuking stress, and an essential counterbalance to long periods sat at a desk.
These are a few straightforward ways to keep stress at bay that you can easily incorporate into your personal routine. Be mindful of identifying potential sources of stress at work and how you can head them off before they start getting to you. Obviously, everyone feels overwhelmed at work from time to time, but things should never feel like a day-to-day struggle, and it’s vital for both our professional and personal lives to make an effort to create welcoming routines for ourselves in the office.