You’re leading tomorrow’s big sales pitch and the Marketing Director just sent back half the PowerPoint slides for a complete re-do. Your assistant is home sick, you just drained your third cup of coffee, and it’s not even 10am. Feeling the stress at work? You’re not alone – three out of four Americans list work as a significant source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
From my career in sales with AT&T to my current position as a Senior Executive Search Consultant, I’ve certainly encountered my fair share of stress at work. Some stress can be healthy; it motivates us to find creative solutions under tight deadlines. But living in a state of constant stress can wreak serious havoc on our health, increasing the risk for weight gain, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, and a host of other health problems – not to mention reduced work performance. In fact, the APA reports that job-related stress costs U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion per year through absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.
Successful work stress management is a key to better workplace productivity and a healthy work-life balance. These five simple and effective stress management techniques will help you regroup:
Turn off email. While email is great for on-the-go productivity, I find that nothing interrupts workflow – and exacerbates stress – quite like the constant “ding” of a new message in your in-box. When you’re up against a major deadline, let your team members know that you’ll be taking a break from email for a few hours to focus on the task at hand.
Take short breaks. Set a timer to go off every few hours. Stand up and stretch, grab a fresh cup of coffee, and avoid the temptation to work through lunch. Short breaks help you recharge, keeping you energized and productive.
Get out of the office. Depending on your office’s location and lunch hour policy, you may be able to squeeze in a short run at the gym or a midday yoga class. Even if it’s just a ten-minute walk to grab coffee, being active in a space outside the office will clear your head, physically separate you from stress at work, and help you re-group for afternoon productivity.
Watch out for negative coping behaviors. Has your occasional post-work happy hour beer turned into a nightly habit? Are you polishing off all the break room donuts? Replace negative coping mechanisms with positive activities, like yoga, daily exercise, or meditation.
Make time for yourself. No matter how hectic your work life gets, take a few hours each week to invest in your mental health. Whether you’re reading a book, catching up on your favorite TV series, or enjoying a leisurely brunch with friends, turn off your phone and be present in the moment: you deserve it.
Implementing healthy, effective ways to manage work place stress leads not only to increased productivity but a better, more satisfied wellbeing. How do you cope with stress at work?