We all feel pressure at work from time to time. Whether its new responsibilities or impending deadlines, stress at work is real. And its gotten progressively worse and more normalised since the recession.
You know that way when you’re feeling all flappy and flustered? Or you’re fantasising about doing something nasty to your boss’ face? You don’t have to live with those feelings. Turn to our tips in your next time of crisis and restore a bit of zen to your working life.
Remember to breathe (and stretch)
When we suffer stress at work, we have a tendency to breathe very quickly and shallowly. This actually adds to our stressed feelings, as our bodies aren’t processing the air very effectively.
Shallow breathing limits the capacity of our lungs, which restricts oxygen to the rest of our body. And to compensate, we breathe faster which means we’re working much harder than we need to. All this creates a feeling of panic and can in it’s most extreme form lead to hyperventilating and panic attacks.
In addition, when we’re stressed at our desk we tend to bunch up, hunch over and sit in positions that restrict our breathing. Getting up for a bit of a stretch and some deep breathing can do wonders for how you feel. If you have time, head to the gym, drop by the pool for a swim or do an exercise class at lunch. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed and happy you’ll feel afterwards.
Organise your workspace
When we experience stress at work it is usually combined with being busy and our good habits go out the window. The problem with that is that a cluttered workspace makes it harder for us to function effectively. Which increases our perception of being stressed. “Argh, where did I put that form the boss signed off? I really don’t want to have to ask her to do it again!”
Decluttering your workspace has a cleansing effect and gives you back a feeling of order and control. For those of us who use computers, this means having a clear computer desktop, a filed inbox and an organised structure for our documents, as well as a clear top of our actual desk.
Write down what’s stressing you out
For some people, this takes the form of a “to do” list they can check off. Others prefer to write a lengthy email that lets them fly off at everyone and everything that’s getting them down. Whatever form you find works for you, the act of putting your stress down on paper has the effect of getting it out of you. It stops your mind from building it into this insurmountable, scary mass with no defined edges.
Talk to someone
The old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” really does still hold true. Whether it’s a chat with a colleague or sitting down for a heart to heart with your boss to rebalance your workload, you have to say something about your stress at work.
Don’t take stress at work home
Feeling like you are under pressure at work isn’t much fun. But when you take that pressure home with you it can grow legs and really start affecting your quality of life. If you find you’re not sleeping well, or snapping at family members more often because of stress at work, it’s time to do something about it.
It can help to have something to do between work and heading home that can act as a buffer, allowing you to compartmentalise your work day and alleviate your stress before you head home. For many of us, going for a drink can seem like a good idea when we’re stressed. We’d never knock an after work drink once in a while, but save it for when you’re feeling good.
Try a stress-busting workout or a class that lets you vent your frustration in a healthy way instead.
The HSE website yourmentalhealth.ie has some more great resources for handling stress.