If you work in an office, you know that this is the type of environment that is supposed to be meant for productivity. Yet somehow, we cannot escape the distractions and stress at work.
If you live in the real world, you probably aren’t in a position to leave your office job for your dream job of writing on a beach in Bali, so dealing with stress at work becomes a necessity.
What are the types of stress at work?
- Annoying co-workers - these are the folks who always pop in and ask if you are busy, then talk your ear off. We call them “time bandits,” because they are always looking to steal a few minutes of your day.
- Ringing telephones - if your job requires you to field inquiries, you know that phone always seems to ring right when you are in the groove on a project.
- Email notifications - these are those annoying popups that let you know your reply to a reply was received. Most of these are unnecessary “thanks” or “will do” messages that mess up your focus.
- Interrupted meals - when you finally settle down for your in-office lunch, someone pops in to ask you what you are eating and to critique your food choices.
- Bullshit projects - probably the biggest cause of stress at work. There’s not much you can do about these, except quit.
Fortunately there are some ways to reduce stress at work. They simply require you to find a new mindset: part of my day here is going to be mine only.
This might sound a bit selfish, but you control your life and environment. If you can get yourself to the point where every day, no matter what is going on, you take an office vacation, you will do wonders to reduce your stress levels.
If you work in a cubicle, most of these tips will not work for you. I know because I worked in a cube for five years before getting an office with a door.
How to Deal with Stress at Work and Reclaim Part of Your Day
Think of the following steps as your daily vacation. Though they can be practiced throughout the day, I’ve found that it’s best to just make them a part of your lunch ritual. That way if you get called out, you can say it’s part of your lunch break.
1. Close the Door –
Does your office have an open door policy? I’m not talking about an explicit rule that you can’t close your door, though I suspect some offices have this draconian rule.
Even if most people leave their doors open most of the day, it is possible to close your door for lunch. I like to eat in privacy without interruption or worry that I have food on my face.
2. Turn Off Overhead Lights –
To be honest, I don’t ever turn on my overhead fluorescent lights. I find them to be too bright and that they suck the life from me. Instead I brought in a desk lamp for those days when the natural light isn’t enough.
3. Take Off Your Shoes –
With your door closed, it’s time to get comfortable by taking off those shoes. This will help you get into relaxation mode and help combat stress at work. It might be possible for you to spend most of your day without shoes, but people in the office might think you are weird, espeically if your feet stink.
4. Turn Off Your Computer and Phones –
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you must, log off of your computer and unplug your desk phone and shut off your smartphone. This is your time, and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you must answer a call when your mouth is full of lunch.
Remember, every worker should be entitled to a peaceful lunch.
5. Meditate –
After you eat, take 20 minutes to meditate. I’m not talking about slipping into a robe and reciting mantra chants on your office floor, though I’m cool if you want to do that.
I simply set a 20 minute timer on my phone (the only excuse for leaving it on!), fold my legs up in my office chair, sit up straight with my hands clasped in my lap, and focus on breathing and clearing my mind of all work and life-related thoughts.
Don’t open your eyes for 20 minutes. You will start to slip into a super-relaxed, almost nap-like state. Once your timer goes off, you should find yourself clear and relaxed. Some people repeat this right before they leave the office for the day as a way to make a clean break from stress at work.
6. Take a Walk –
If you ate and meditated, you may have another 20 minutes left on your lunch break. Why not go outside for a 20 minute walk? Many studies recently have showed that even if you exercise, sitting for hours every day is basically a slow suicide.
How Was Your Vacation?
Most of these tips are geared towards those who don’t want to leave their office every day for lunch. Leaving, though, is the ultimate vacation. Some people do it simply to get away, even for a half hour. Sometimes I quickly drive home, eat fast, then take a quick nap or near-nap.
Reducing stress at work is completely in your hands.
No matter what your boss throws at you, whether or not you can claim a part of your day for yourself will determine if you are able to reduce office stress.