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6 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Stress at Work

27 January 2022

The problem with stress is that it doesn't just impact us emotionally – it also impacts our physical health, leading to headaches, fatigue, and irritability. In extreme cases, it could even trigger a serious condition, like a heart attack.

There are two factors that can worsen your stress. The first is a feeling of lack of control. We may forget that we always have choices, and sometimes those choices just don't seem so clear cut. When we feel like we’ve lost control of our lives, it makes us anxious – especially when there's a lot at stake. The second factor is your environment. A workspace that’s unfit for purpose, alongside chaotic relationships with colleagues, can be a major stressor.

So what can we do to feel better at work? Here are six recommendations to help you to reduce your stress at work:

1. Build in some "me" time

Create a better work-life balance by designating a specific chunk of time for yourself. Use this time for your favourite stress-busting activities – ideas for these could be anything from reading, listening to music, or taking a walk outside.

On the other hand, if you’d like a longer term solution to reducing your work-related stress, you could use your private "me" time to review and refocus your goals and ambitions.

Try journaling to work out steps you might need to take. Writing down a list of things you'd like to achieve and then working towards achieving those goals can help you build resilience by redirecting your attention.

2. Look on the bright side of things

One quick way to get over a bad day (or week) at work is to look for the positives. We can be so quick to focus on what's wrong, but we need to remember that we're not powerless in life.

The Dalai Lama once said, "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." We can choose how we respond, and that includes choosing to be happy!

It's also beneficial in other ways – choosing optimism will give you an energy boost and inspire you to become more naturally productive.

3. Learn to say "no"

This is the hardest one on the list, but it's also one of the most beneficial. It can be easy to over-commit at work or even outside of your career. Yet being over-committed takes away your choice and your leverage.

It can be especially hard in a team environment where everyone is trying to please each other, but it's critical you learn how to say no.

Sharon E. Rainey, author and rare disease advocate, explains that: "No is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple no."

4. Go on holiday

You can't always feel like your life is all beaches and sunshine, but time off can help us feel better at work by reducing our stress. A bona fide holiday – whether it’s a staycation or further afield – provides us with a change in environment and allows us to get away from all the responsibilities we have as workers and managers, so we can relax and rejuvenate.

It's also important to remember that you don't need to wait for the weekend or annual leave to take a break. Create the space to take a proper break during your working day, even if it's just a few minutes for a tea break in the morning or a fully disconnected away-from-your-desk lunch break.

Nothing will change the way you feel at work faster than this option!

5. Laugh more!

Laughter can make all the difference in your life, and it can even help reduce stress at work. So find things that make you laugh, whether it's a funny YouTube video or catching up with work friends who have a great sense of humour.

It'll help keep your spirits up and your mind clearer when you're feeling stressed out about work.

6. Learn to manage your time better

Most of us have the same amount of time in a day as the next person, but how we spend our time is completely up to us. If you feel overworked, it's probably because you’re trying to do too much, leaving less time for everything else. The simplest way to eliminate this problem is by learning how to manage your time better.

However, this can be a lot harder than it sounds! Most people don’t know exactly how long each activity takes or how long tasks should generally take.. Without this knowledge, we start overbooking ourselves and giving ourselves less and less time for everything we do.

So how do you manage your time better? Use a time tracker to monitor the amount of time already spent on each task in your life for at least a month. Then, make a plan to minimise or delegate time spent on tasks that aren’t relevant to your responsibilities.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to work on the tasks you can complete in half an hour or less, so you build momentum slowly. It's a quick win!

In conclusion, it's important to remember that stress can have a big impact on your overall health, and we can all take steps to reduce it. If you're feeling stressed at work, consider the other factors in your life and the recommendations mentioned above.

With some small changes, you'll be able to feel better at work and you'll be able to keep your sanity in check.