How many of your conversations at work start with comparing your stress levels with your coworkers? When the office is stressed out, everyone feels the effects, and they aren’t pretty. And while sometimes the source of stress is outside of our control, how we react to it can make all the difference between a small roadblock and a major headache.
So how do you reduce stress at work? Here are 7 ways you can shape your workplace and your mindset to avoid headaches at work.
Schedule your breaks and stick to them
What do you do in the morning when you look at your calendar and see a full plate ahead of you? It’s tempting to power through the day without rest, but that approach often only makes you work more slowly. Take a few minutes between tasks to relax, have a snack, or simply focus on anything besides work. Your brain will thank you, and you can approach the next task fresh and ready.
Keep track of the things that stress you out
Stress can be an overwhelming feeling — it can snowball quickly, and we don’t always know what’s causing it. Often, we don’t do anything about it until we’re already at our wit’s end and the headache is in full effect. Before it gets to that point, try keeping track of the little things that add stress throughout your day, so you know what you can address as it comes up.
Examine your caffeine intake
Coffee may be the world’s most glorious addiction, but there can be too much of a good thing. Caffeine can elevate stress at work and even cause actual headaches. In addition to the amount of coffee you drink, pay attention to when in the day you crave it — caffeine at the wrong hour can can deny your body the midday rest cycles that help relieve stress.
Speak up when something doesn’t work
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to do something the wrong way. If you’re stressed at work doing a task that you think can be better accomplished with some new thinking, consider sharing your ideas with your boss. Depending on the project, it can be better to wait until it’s done or bring it up earlier, so you don’t have to sit through the torture of busy work.
Use tech that works for you, not the other way around
Similar to the previous point, do you use an app at work that feels like more trouble than it’s worth? If you spend more time fiddling with your technology than you save by using it, it might be time for an upgrade. Try researching some alternatives before bringing the problem to attention, so you can know what else to expect.
Try avoiding stressful commutes
Sometimes stress at work starts before we even get to the office. If you spend an hour in traffic before the workday begins, it can set you up for a day more difficult than it needs to be. Try finding a solution that works for you — perhaps you can go into the office early and leave before rush hour, telecommute, or find a good book on tape to keep your mind occupied during your commute.
Learn how to say no
We all have this ideal of ourselves as the perfect employee, who can take on any and every project. Unfortunately for our self-image, that’s a load of baloney for everyone. You aren’t a machine; and nobody should expect you to work like one. If you find yourself feeling overstretched and stressed out, try prioritizing what really matters to you, so you can find the right place to say “no.”