Work stress can get to the best of us and negatively affect our mental and physical well-being. From increased anxiety to insomnia and lack of sleep, having one stressful workday after another quickly adds up and can leave you feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, and drained. There are some proven ways, however, to reduce stress at work each day, and worth trying to see what works best for you.
Work in 90-minute Increments
When working on a project, it can be helpful to work on 90-minute sessions followed by a short break. Working straight through the day for 8+ hours can result in less productivity vs. working in bursts where you’re entirely focused and concentrate on the project at hand. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, wrote, “After studying elite athletes, musicians, actors, and chess players, Dr. K. Anders Ericsson at Florida State University discovered that the top performers work in approximately 90–minute sessions and then take a break. They focus intensely and then give themselves time to recover and regain energy.”
Finding time in your day to exercise, or even just going out for a walk and getting some fresh air, can greatly reduce your stress load. If you’re able to fit in some exercise during your lunch break, that can provide a great reset and help break up your workday. Another important aspect of reducing work stress is getting enough sleep, and many studies find a correlation between exercise and improved sleep, so it can be a win-win.
In today’s environment, where work emails are easily accessible through your phone at all hours of the day, it’s easy to feel like you’re always “on”. Instead, try unplugging at the end of the day, and not be tempted to continually check and answer those work emails off hours. At the end of your workday, try your best to leave work behind until the following morning. Having clear boundaries can help you find a better work-life balance and keep you from feeling burnt out. Some may find it helpful to create a schedule and plan out their day in advance that includes time for work, exercise, socializing, and relaxation.
Change Your Perspective
One often overlooked way of reducing work stress is by changing the story you are telling yourself about the situation. In an article on Forbes, they write, “Your perspective of stressful office events is typically a subjective interpretation of the facts, often seen through the filter of your own self-doubt, says Melnick. However, if you can step back and take a more objective view, you’ll be more effective and less likely to take things personally. She recalls one client who sent a request to human resources for more people on an important project. When she was denied, she immediately got angry and defensive, thinking they didn’t trust her to know what she needed. Yet she never stopped to even consider there might be budgetary issues on their end. Once she was able to remove herself from the situation, she called the HR director and said: Tell me where you’re coming from, I’ll tell you where I’m coming from and then let’s see if we can find a solution. Ultimately, it worked.”