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How to Reduce Stress at Work

It’s no joke. Countless studies show that excess stress can cause real physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain, and trouble sleeping. That’s not to mention its role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

In the infographic below, we’ll take a look a look at the alarming costs of workplace stress, the warning signs that you’re too stressed, and 6 simple methods for reducing that stress – so you can get back to kicking butt.

We’re here to help. Here are 6 tried and true methods for reducing workplace stress – so you can get back to kicking butt.

1.     

Form Positive Relationships

While the negative effects of stress are very real, much of the stress we experience can be alleviated simply by talking about it. That’s why positive relationships at work are so important. Even if they can’t solve your problems, the simple act of verbalizing your stress with someone you trust can actually reduce the severity – or clear it up altogether. Additionally, friendships can take your mind off the stressors and provide a buffer between your daily tasks and your negative thoughts. It’s one of the reasons why we rolled out the SnackNation buddy program. Every new hire gets a veteran “buddy” to show them the ropes, introduce them to people, and provide guidance and support. By design, this “buddy” isn’t a manager. It’s someone in whom you can confide any concern, personal or professional. Our SN buddies are trained to lend an ear and provide judgment-free advice.

2.     

Start Exercising (or Exercise More)

With its mood-boosting and endorphin-releasing properties, regular aerobic exercise is a natural stress reducer. Exercise’s ability to elevate mood is well documented. Numerous studies going back to the early 80’s found that regular exercise can improve mood for people with moderate depression. In fact, a 1999 study found that exercise was just as effective of eliminating depression antidepressants. Exercise also helps get your mind off your stressful thoughts. By training yourself to be in the moment and focus on your body’s movements (rather than mulling over your worries), exercise can be a form of active meditation and have a calming effect on the body and mind. You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity each day.

3.     

Eat Healthy and Nutritious Foods

Ever heard the phrase “eat your feelings”?

It’s a real phenomenon. Many people turn to unhealthy “comfort foods” as a way to manage stress. Why does this happen? When we’re stressed, our brain releases the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave salty, sweet, and fat-laden foods for the temporary pleasure they bring.

But ironically, “stress eating” only exacerbates the problem. Sugar or fat-laden foods like pizza, burgers, and ice cream make us feel lethargic, and less likely to tackle the problems that lay before us, which in turn only increases our stress.

4.     

Get Enough Sleep

We can’t say this enough – get some sleep!

Stress has long been linked to chronic insomnia. But while conventional wisdom treats the inability to sleep as a symptom of stress, researchers at Harvard medical school found that poor sleep may actually be a contributing factor. That’s because a lack of sleep inhibits your ability to cope with even normal amounts of stress, and negatively affects your mood and outlook.

The point is, you can’t hope to reduce stress when you’re on edge and irritable from lack of sleep.

5.     

Prioritize and Organize

Feeling overwhelmed is a major stressor. A great way to make a major reduction in your stress is to get a handle on your work by prioritizing and organizing.

Here’s how to do it:

Clarify Goals:  Before you can prioritize, you have to set clear objectives. Make time to sit with your manager and clarify your goals. sBe sure that your daily activities track back to one of your overarching goals.

Prioritize Against Goals: Don’t set priorities arbitrarily. Use your goals to evaluate the importance of every task. At SnackNation, we teach team members to evaluate each task by asking, “Is this getting me closer to or further away from my goals?” If the answer is anything other than “closer to,” it’s not a priority. Focus on 2-3 things Max. There’s an old saying – if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Focus on the “biggest levers” – that is, the 2 or 3 things each week that will have the biggest impact on your goals.

Set Deadlines:  As a general rule, if a task doesn’t have a deadline, it will get pushed aside for one that does. Set realistic deadlines for everything, and everything will get done.

Make a To-Do List: So simple, yet so effective. To make sure things get done, write them down in a notebook or a note taking app like Evernote. If you’re still overwhelmed by tasks, use task management software like Asana or Wrike to keep a handle on your daily activity, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Use Your Calendar: Plan your weeks in your calendar so that you maximize the limited time you have each week. At SnackNation we recommend team members plan out their weeks on Friday or even Sunday evenings. Make sure to schedule breaks in there as well – as in actually put them in your calendar!

 

 

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