Reduce stress at work in 9 quick and easy creative ways

In order to prevent unhealthy stress at work you need a toolkit of quick and easy, trusted stress relief activities that you can do on your own to move you along your stress curve.

 

It’s no secret that work related stress contributes to corporate inefficiency, high staff turnover, absenteeism, decreased quality and quantity output and increased health care costs for staff. On a personal level, it impacts all aspects of a person; physical, emotional, Intellectual and behavioral.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-stress. In my corporate career I was fortunate to experience optimum levels of stress at times, where I believe I did my best work. However, I have also had the misfortune to experience sustained high levels of stress, with perceived lack of organisational support, and that was a pretty horrible place to be. Irrespective of where you are on the stress continuum there is always an opportunity to better manage your stress levels, so that you can position yourself in your optimal stress zone for optimal work outcomes when you need it most. To do this you need self-awareness and the ability to recognise where you are on the stress continuum.

 

 

In order to move up towards your ‘optimal zone’ you need to decrease time by taking on more tasks or increase the challenge of what you’re doing. And if you have spent too long in the optimal stress zone, you may move in to the ‘too much stress zone’ and start to experience early signs of burnout.  Knowing what each of those zones feel like for you is important in being able to regulate your stress levels.

 

9 creative ways to move towards your optimal zone

Give these a try and notice what they do for you. Do they move you towards your optimal zone or away from it?

1. Actively move your body

Whether it’s going for a run, brisk walk or dancing to a favourite tune at your desk. Moving your body will positively impact where you’re at on the stress curve.

 

2. Change up the routine

Whether it’s how you walk into your office, to the kitchen to re-fill your coffee mug or the way you walk to the bathroom. Mix it up and walk a different way and actively notice what you are walking past.

 

3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This can be done lying down or sitting on a chair. Breathe through your nose and clench our toes and feet as you breathe in. On the out breath, let everything go. Work through all the muscle groups in your body in this way, from toes to head.

 

4. Gargling

This one may be a surprise, it’s an easy way to increase your heart rate if you apply challenge to how you gargle.  

 

5. Humming, Chanting or Singing

This can work either way. Some clients report it energises them others find it calms them. Either way it helps them lift their mood. Softly humming a familiar melody or singing your heart out to your favourite song.

 

6. Learn to juggle 

Juggling can be considered a complex and challenging endeavor. If this activity takes your fancy, keeping some juggling balls in your desk or nearby for when you get the urge. It may be just what you need to up the ante.

 

7. Exposure to cold

This can be done in a number of ways at the office by:

  • Taking a cold shower at your end of trip facilities in your building for a minute
  • Wipe your face with a cold face cloth in the bathroom
  • Drink a cold glass of water quickly

 

8. Nasal, diaphragmatic breathing

Take a moment: Focus on the tip of your nose and the cool air coming in, warm air coming out. Repeat several times.

 

9. Time yourself looking out the window and noticing what you see

Often, we just need to switch our focus and take a mental break by looking away from what we are doing. If you are lucky enough to have a window nearby, take a minute and mindfully look out of it and notice what you see

 

Remember, if you’re feeling flat or super-stressed then it could be time to ask for help. They’re both signs that your current strategies aren’t enough. It’s not a sign that you’re broken or not as good as others. It’s a sign that you know you need new strategies, or you recognise an external perspective on your situation would be helpful. So, be brave and seek out assistance, whether that’s from a friend, family member or trained professional.

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