Let's face it: Stress in the workplace is inevitable and unavoidable. Whether it's due to the nature of the job, your work environment, the people you work with, or the at-home issues that trickle into the office, we've all had to deal with it one way or another. As women, we even take on additional stresses on top of the usual, and if we're not careful, too much stress (and bad habits of suppression or coping) can negatively affect our livelihood, our health, and our sanity.
We're sure you know the dangers of stress, so we won't get into the research today, but sis, we're in the last three months of the year. It's time to go ahead and nip those stress-inducing habits in the bud and tell nagging annoyances where to go. Here's a quick and smart guide on how to reduce stress at work, one step at a time:
1. Add a fun, active exercise to your workday routine.
Even if your job requires lots of physical movement already, the keyword here is fun. Medical experts always recommend exercise and movement as a stress reliever, and doing something active can indeed increase endorphines and boost you mood. Take things up a notch by bringing a bike, skates, mini trampoline (yes, sis, it's a whole thing), a mini boxing bag, or a jump rope to use during a break.
You don't have to break a sweat, and you certainly don't have to use your whole lunch hour to play, but getting in at least 15 minutes can mean the difference between zen and a disciplinary warning for reading that annoying, narcissistic coworker for the fifth time. This can especially be doable if you work from home or have flex hours. No excuses, friend.
2. Utilize technology to automate, get organized, and save time.
We're fans of working smart, not hard around here. And if you can't put together a good Excel sheet, automate many tedious tasks (like often-used email responses, out-of-office notices, to-do lists, presentations, data projections, even food delivery and self-care appointments), get help. (Literally. Hire a Task Rabbit, ask an intern, invest in platforms like Calendly or take a course. Trust us. It will save your life.)
Research by analytics company Verint shows that 72 percent of people who have "low stress" said they have access to tech that allows them to "work productively" and 64 percent believe that automation "helps reduce workload and stress." So let's stop hand-typing, manually calculating, and doing other monotonous things in real time, and save our amazing brain cells for larger, more complicated tasks.
3. Make prayer or meditation a deliberate part of your day.
This practice doesn't have to be limited to your home, bedtime routine, emergency response, or that one day you choose to dedicate to self-care. Beyond the spiritual and mental benefits of doing this daily at work, let's get into the science: They have found that prayer and meditation can be "calming," increase your focus, and up those feelings of "emotional support."
You can choose to do it in your car, in a workplace breakroom, or via a 30-minute class or mid-day service, or you can simply breathe a prayer or several affirmations at your desk. Just be sure to deliberately slide this in to break up the chaos that might be going on around you.
4. Carpool, get a ride, or take public transportation.
Again, we see that side-eye, sis. Pick up your lip and hear us out. Beyond the environmental and monetary savings, letting someone else take over the driving during your morning and evening commutes (or for going to mid-day meetings and participating in work-related activities outside the office) has its perks. If you're not into the idea of taking a bus or train right now (totally understandable), treat yourself at least once per month to an Uber or Lyft ride, or find a trusted coworker, family member, or friend, and alternate days to drive. The less time personally dealing with road-raged lunatics, non-driving bumper-riders, and cray-cray congestion, the better.
5. Partner up, get a coach, or delegate.
Sometimes stress can be connected to taking a do-it-all approach to everything. Here's where a partner comes in. Find ways to either delegate tasks or partner with someone to take on half the load. Advocate for yourself by engaging with others and finding out strengths and skills that can be exchanged or bartered. If that's not an option, utilize the resources provided by your HR department, talk with a mentor about ways to cope with the stresses of major experiences like a work deadline or staff change, or tap a coach or therapist to help you pinpoint workplace stress triggers and ways to reduce, rebound or eliminate them.
Not all stress is connected to negative experiences, and even doing a job you love or working at the company of your dreams involves an element of stress. You're closing deals, managing staff, getting promoted, or taking on new responsibilities, so be sure to take a cue from at least one of these steps and arm yourself to come out on top.
For more job search tips, career advice and profiles, check out the xoNecole Workin Girl section here.
Featured image by Getty Images