It’s hard to get a lot done when your mind is spinning with stress and anxious feelings. Stress can cloud our judgment, making it difficult to make decisions. It can also cause physical side effects, including higher blood pressure and an increased heart rate.
When work — or our life outside of work — seems to impact our ability to get things done, it’s important to act quickly. Proactively managing stress will have positive effects on both our productivity at work and our overall health and wellbeing.
Here are nine ways to soothe stress at work:
1. Get organized for the day.
Our work days are bound to derail. Know that and accept it. Starting your day a bit earlier can ensure you have enough time to get organized and accomplish those “must do’s” on your daily task list. Then, when your day doesn’t go according to plan, you can take a little comfort in knowing you’ve still accomplished those must-do tasks.
2. Keep track.
Keep a diary for a week or two to track which situations make you feel most stressed and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts and feelings and what you did as a result. Using this, you’ll be able to better prepare and anticipate for these situations.
3. Recognize false alarms.
Everyone has the sudden worry they didn’t lock the front door or left the iron on — however rarely those things actually happen. When you find yourself thinking along these lines and notice your body responding with a rapid heartbeat, recognize the situation for what it is. Acknowledge the thoughts and sensations but let them pass.
4. Practice mindfulness.
A popular method of combatting anxiety, mindfulness can stop your worrying by bringing your attention back to the present. By acknowledging your worries, you can then let them go. It also allows you to get in touch with your emotions and recognize how you feel.
Try some quick breathing exercises to get back in balance. This can be done at your desk, during a coffee break or a on a quick walk around the building.
5. Positive past experiences.
If you’re experiencing stress or anxiety about an upcoming presentation or speaking up in a meeting, positive past experiences are a useful resource to pull on here.
“Self-efficacy” is a psychological theory that if you’ve done something successful just once, you’ll be able to draw confidence from that experience to go on and do more. It’ll help you focus on positive elements of success — and not what could go wrong.
6. Learn to say no.
It’s easy to take on too much. But if you’re overloaded with work, try talking with your boss. Ask how to best prioritize your assignments or if there may be others on the team who can share the workload.
7. Positive self talk.
We’re often far harder on ourselves than we would be on others. Try to think positively rather than putting yourself down. Telling yourself phrases such as “this feeling will pass” and “I will be OK” could help reassure you and reduce stress or worry.
8. Question your thoughts.
Feeling anxious can make our thoughts spiral out of control and take outlandish turns. When you find this happening, question your thoughts by asking yourself, “Is this worry realistic?,” “What’s the worst possible outcome?” and “Would it really be that bad?”
Taking time to unwind after a tough week is imperative. It’s also important to find the balance between social activity and “me time.” A lot of us tend to get our energy from being around others, while others need solitude to recharge. The reality of a busy life at work and home means you also need time to reflect, get organized and wind down — as well as gear up for the next week.