September 10, 2012
8 ways to beat work stress
Stress is a lot like Michael Jordan in his prime -- you can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him. So even though we can’t totally eliminate stress from our lives, here is a list of ways you can help reduce it while you’re at work.
Let's get physical
Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.
Go for a run or brisk walk during the day. Even a few loops around the office building might help you relax and refocus. And if you can’t get out, find an empty conference room or corner of the office where you can perform some basic stretches.
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, join a gym near work and hit the treadmill, elliptical or a yoga class during your lunch hour.
Out to lunch
You’re busy. We know that. But while it’s tempting to eat yet another lunch at your desk -- taking bites in between emails and creating a PowerPoint presentation -- sometimes you just need to get away. So either go by yourself or grab a co-worker and head out for a change of scenery at lunch to recharge the batteries.
Sometimes it’s not so much the work but the atmosphere or commute that is stressful. Ask your boss if you can occasionally work from home.
Take a nap
A short nap of 20-30 minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation. A NASA study performed on military pilots and astronauts found a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent.
Meditate on it
Don’t be scared off by the word meditation. You don’t have to be a practicing Buddhist to benefit from it. After all, meditation is basically just calming yourself down through a series of deep-breathing exercises in order to refocus and re-energize.
Find a quiet place at work and try to block out as much noise as possible. Then, when you’re calm, visualize a peaceful image in your mind and focus on it while controlling your breathing for 10 or 15 minutes.
Let it all out
While meditation and inward reflection might be the way to go for some people, others just need to vent.
“When things are stressful at work, it helps me to yell at someone. Usually it’s my husband,” says a Salary.com reader. While we don’t condone taking out your frustrations on your undeserving spouse, talking about things can be helpful.
Find a friend, loved one or trusted co-worker (just be careful who you pick if you’re discussing office woes) and put everything on the table.
Soothe the savage beast
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as getting lost in your favorite music.
Internet radio sites such as Pandora and Spotify make it easy to listen to the perfect songs that will help calm you down and get you through the day, be it Enya or Lady Gaga.
If music isn’t your thing, try a comedian who is bound to make you laugh. Or check out whatever water-skiing squirrel is going viral on YouTube at the moment.
Go to your happy place
Maybe it was that week you spent hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Or your Hawaiian honeymoon, where you saw the perfect sunset to end all sunsets.
Grab a reminder of that moment and place it prominently on your desk. Then, when the office gets crazy and the stress is killing you, take a moment and look at the picture (or whatever memento you picked) and let yourself drift back there. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, it’ll have a calming effect that will help get you through the day.
No snapshot to put on your desk? Start planning your next vacation in your mind and use that visual to soothe your nerves.
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