Simple Strategies For Reducing Stress

Stress can kill.  Most people know that, but what fewer people understand is that long before it reaches the point where it can kill you or cause serious physical harm, stress can begin to impact your life and your performance at work.

When you feel anxious, your concentration will decrease and you’ll have difficulty staying focused and on task.  That, in turn, will lead to a decrease in productivity, which inevitably makes you feel guilty and even more stressed, which creates a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

The good news is that there are a number of simple things you can do to reduce the amount of stress you’re under.  If you’re currently feeling some of those negative effects but aren’t sure where to start in terms of getting your stress levels under control, here are some things you can do, starting right now:

Take Short Health Breaks

If you’ve got people who smoke in your office, you’ve probably noticed that they take smoke breaks now and then.  Pick a smoker, and any time you see him or her take a smoke break, you get up and take a mental health break.

Walk around the building you work in, or even better, if you’ve got a wooded area near your office, walk there.  Studies have shown that spending just fifteen minutes walking in a natural setting will reduce cortisol levels by 50%, and cortisol is the hormone that causes stress.  That’s huge.

Even if you can only afford one fifteen-minute walk per day at lunch, a few minutes spent walking the perimeter of the building you work in will do wonders.

Buy A Plant For Your Desk

If you can’t get out of the office long enough to take Health Break walks, and if you don’t have any wooded areas near where you work, a decent substitute for that idea (or addition to it) would be to buy a plant for your desk.

The benefits of having plant in your work area aren’t nearly as pronounced as getting up, stretching your legs for a few minutes and actually walking around in the great outdoors, but there are still benefits to be had.  In addition to the calming effect, there’s also the fact that a little plant for your desk will liven your work area up a bit and give it a more cheerful appearance.  That’s win-win!

Background Music Or Noise

Not everyone works in an environment that allows them to listen to music, and if you don’t, you’ll obviously need to take a pass on this one, but if you can wear headphones and enjoy some music, that’s another good, simple way to de-stress.

The kind of music matters here.  Even if you’re into heavy metal, keep your relaxing music something a bit more soothing, or, if you’re not a music lover, consider some background noise effects like a thunderstorm, surf pounding on the shore, water moving under a dock, or night sounds.  All of these can give you a sense of peace and calm.

Improve Your Work Life Balance

This can be easier said than done, but you can start simply by, say, not checking your work email after seven o’clock (or whatever time you establish), or turning your ringer off at bedtime.  That way, at least you’ve got some clear, firm limits on when work just isn’t a thing anymore.  The more of that you can do, the better!

The Internet Is Your Friend

There are tons of great resources floating around the internet to help you de-stress.  On Spotify, there’s a playlist called “Daily Wellness” that’s well worth checking out.  If you’re more of an app-oriented person, you could try the app called “Headspace.”  Or if YouTube is more your speed, do a search on ten minute meditations, and prepare to be impressed!

Identify The Source(s) Of Your Stress

Sometimes, you feel stressed out and the reason why isn’t immediately obvious to you.  Ask yourself what specific thing or things are causing you to be stressed out.  If your answer is some variant of “just…everything” then think about it some more.  Eventually, you’ll ferret out some specific reasons, and having identified those reasons, you can take steps to guard against them or restructure them in such a way that they’re at least somewhat less stressful.

Take email, for example.  If you’re constantly checking your email and it’s stressing you out, stop doing that.  Check first thing in the morning, and check again at lunchtime.  Do all your business related emailing and responding in those two batches and just don’t touch it the rest of the day.  That may not be feasible for everyone, but it will be for the vast majority of people, and if that’s one of the sources of stress for you, the benefits will be staggering.

Don’t Multitask

Most people believe they are good at multitasking and that it makes them more productive.  Studies have shown, however, that only 2% of people are actually good at multitasking and more productive when they do it.  Statistically speaking, you’re probably not one of those 2%.

One task at a time.  Stay focused.  Knock one thing out and then move onto the next.  Make a daily to do list and check things off to mark your progress.  It helps.  Tremendously.

There are plenty of other things you can do, but if you start here, with the ideas presented in this article, you can radically reduce stress in your daily life, and that’s going to make you a happier human being.