10 No Cost Ways to Relieve Stress from Your Desk
During the last year of my corporate career I was stressed out due to a toxic work environment that I didn’t know how to appropriately manage. It’s no surprise then that a lot of my work now involves relieving stress in the workplace. Stressed out workers are costly in terms decreased productivity, increased health costs and missed work days not to mention their contribution to a less than positive work environment.
I’m often asked “How do I teach other people to manage their stress, too?” Yes, it’s frustrating when you are trying and your colleagues are not. Do not give in to their attitudes! Lance at the Jungle of Life recently wrote a post about how “one” can make a big difference. Concentrate on relieving YOUR stress and you will manage your health and your career success. If you react in a way that is healthy and appropriate, your colleagues may start to notice in their own time. You cannot help those who are not ready for help, but you can inspire through your own actions. Act appropriately and maybe that colleague will come to you and ask “How do you stay so positive during such a frustrating situation?” Now, you can share your knowledge.
Below are no cost ways to relieve stress right from your desk or workspace. You are your greatest asset when it comes to your personal and professional success. You cannot afford not to take a short break and dedicate some time each day, even at work, to your well-being.
- Laugh. Studies prove that smiling and laughing help relax the body, and takes less energy than furrowing the brow. Find a colleague who can provide you with a chuckle or two.
- Breathe – You’ve heard the expression “Just take a deep breath”. Well, there is a lot of truth to that statement, as long as you breathe correctly. Inhaling and exhaling through the nose can be very calming, while inhaling through the nose and out through the mouth can be cleansing. Make the breath long and slow.
- Take a walk – Get away from the problem. Ideally take a walk outside and get some fresh air. At the very least move away from your desk and get a change of scenery. This will help you approach the issue with a fresh perspective when you return.
- Keep your office space clean –A cluttered desk and office can often lead to unnecessary stress or a cluttered mind. Take a few minutes each day to clean up papers and files that have been piling up. Organize books on your shelves, and keep your desk dust free.
- Stretch – If you sit behind a desk and computer all day, chances are your back, shoulders and hips are compressed. Every 30 minutes do a brief stretch to relieve that muscle tension and give you a clear mind.
- Listen – You are not the only one with something to say in the office. If you want to be heard and respected when you speak, you must treat your colleagues with that same respect and avoid interrupting. You may not agree, but you also don’t have to attack. We are all entitled to our opinions.
- Communicate clearly – More and more I find that communication, or lack thereof, is often at the core of stressful situations. Learn how to use your words in a way that gets your message across accurately, intelligently and respectfully. Watch your body language, too. Clear communication ensures you are heard and helps avoid further frustration and confusion.
- Use a vacation day – According to a 2007 International Vacation Deprivation Study by Expedia, 35% of US adults do not use all the vacation time allotted to them in a year. Taking a break, even for a day, helps clear your mind, release tension and provide you the energy you need to be productive when you’re back in the office.
- Stop Complaining. Remember you have choices. If you are unhappy in your current work situation you can have more effective conversations, you can choose to take deep breaths and simply get the work done, or you can create an exit plan. When you complain you are choosing the negativity. I spent many years as a “corporate complainer” serving only to escalate my stress levels. Stop complaining and start making more appropriate choices for you and you’ll notice your stress levels decrease, too.
- Hang a “Do Not Disturb Sign” – Office life is full of interruptions including meetings, phone calls and co-workers looking to chat. Set boundaries, like hanging a do not disturb sign or muting your phone, and stick to them. Give yourself some time during the workday that is uninterrupted so you can get some work done!