Stressed at Work? A Few Tips to Help You Out

Tory Johnson, founder of Women for Hire recently wrote a piece for Good Morning America on called Stressed at Work? and of course it caught my attention.

She offers some great suggestions including:

  • Keeping a journal to identify how you’re feeling, what triggered you and how your body is responding (stomach ache? Headache? Shoulder pain?)
  • Taking a break during the day or finding some way to help you pass the time.
  • That you don’t work for someone else, you work for you and your family.  She suggests, “Don’t give the boss or company any more power over you than they really need.”
  • Eat your lunch.  Skipping meals only serves to create more stress. If you’re hungry, isn’t that where your focus remains?
  • Take a vacation day or plan fun events to look forward to after work.
  • Utilize the benefits of your health insurance plan
  • And if you’ve done everything you can and you’re still stressed, Johnson suggests it may be time to leave.

There are a few other suggestions I’d like to add, because they work, are simple and help get you into a calm, clear thinking mind so you can come up with an effective solution to what ails you.

Stretch.  Tension and stress are held in the body.  If you keep a stress journal and you notice aches and pains, stretch.  Tension contracts muscles.  When you contract too long you may experience pain.  Stretching helps alleviate the tension and the pain.  Click here for some quick stretches you can do right from your desk.

Breathe. When you get stressed notice your breath. Is it short, quick and shallow? Where does the breath start? From your chest or stomach? Slow down your breath by starting in the belly, aka diaphragmatic breathing, and inhale deeply through the nose.  Avoid letting the chest rise first, and instead feel your stomach expand.  As you exhale release all the air and think about exhaling your tension.  Let your body soften.  Click here for a short breathing audio.

Control what you can control. You cannot control other people and their reactions.  You can however, control your own.  Stop blaming others or your job for your stress and start taking personal accountability for yourself.  You get to choose how you respond.

Practice. I can tell you to breathe or stretch or communicate effectively, but if it’s not a consistent practice, you won’t remember to do it.  If you really want a new way to respond and manage stress at work, make the commitment to practice.

There is no quick fix.  If you want to feel better and less stressed at work or anywhere you have to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Remember it’s business, not personal.  Another person’s bad day may have absolutely nothing to do with you.  You don’t need a lot of time or money, you do need a commitment to make it happen.

What about you? How do you handle stress at work?

Need help managing stress at work? I help busy professionals manage stress at work.  Contact me to find out how my program Relieve Stress from Your Desk can help you or your organization.

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  • Evita

    Hi Stacey

    Stress at work, and in our lives today seems to be such a predominant theme. I wonder how did we really allow ourselves to get this far? We so need more enjoyment of life.

    So it is always good to see you (or others :) bringing awareness to this and helping people out. I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to not have stress at my work. Sounds odd to many to hear that, especially that I was a high school teacher. But that is just the thing, first I think we have to love our jobs and second, it all comes down to our mind set, at least for me it did.

    Regardless of this, there are situations that can grip any of us, and then? And then tips that you offer above like breathing, or just taking a stretch break help immensely. It is incredible how much tension we can build up in our body as we do our day to day work tasks.

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  • Karl Staib – Work Happy Now

    I know that work can stress me out. It comes down to working on my habits. Like you said we need to practice. That means working on our breath, thoughts, and actions every single day. It can be frustrating, but consistent effort pays off.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Hi Stacey,
    I would add to make sure one gets enough sleep. I like the planning something fun in the evening. I used to watch too much TV that I wasn’t interested in out of habit. Now I spend more time with hobbies.

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