Every job carries a certain – even healthy – level of stress. A little bit can motivate you, but a lot can wreak havoc on your health. And since you spend so much of your time at work, you’re likely experiencing a lot of your stress there, too.
In the spirit of staying calm on the job, try these simple strategies to feel a little more sane starting now.
1. Tame digital distraction
Climbing Mt. Everest may like less of a challenge than stepping away from your laptop or smartphone. In a survey we conducted at meQuilibrium, 73 percent of respondents said their stress is directly related to their electronic devices and 61 percent said their moods are negatively impacted after checking social media sites. In other words, their updates brought them down.
>>TRY IT. Book some uninterrupted time. If you want to get stuff done, you’ve got to focus. And one way to be sure to do this is to block some time out on the schedule—especially if you share an online calendar at work. Let coworkers know you won’t be checking email during that time. You’ll get far more done than you realize if you don’t heed every ping.
2. Get the scoop from HR
Do you know what your company’s wellness initiatives are? Swing by HR and see if there’s anything you’re missing. According to the 2013 Global Workplace Health and Wellness Report, gym memberships, healthy food options and physical activities are the top initiatives at most companies. Plus, more organizations are implementing mental health resources to help employees cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
>>TRY IT: Swing by HR and ask about what your company is offering. It works both ways—maybe you have a suggestion or an idea for them. The whole purpose of these programs is to boost morale for the employees. They’d love to hear from you on how to improve their programming.
(If you're a manager yourself, learn more about how meQuilibrium can help you evaluate and address stress for your employees.)
3. Step Away from the Desk—and Eat Lunch
Sounds so simple, right? Think about your average workday: Get to work, check email, attend meetings, race to meet deadlines, and before you know it, the lunch trucks have all packed up and gone home for the day. Don’t skip lunch (and vending machines don’t count).
Eating and enjoying the midday meal helps ease stress in a few ways. First, the actual nourishment from the food gives you energy to work productively and clears a foggy mind (who can think straight when they’re starving?). Secondly, stepping away from your desk for 30 to 60 minutes gives you a chance to mentally regroup, even more so if you can dine outside on a nice day.
4. Stretch out.
Sitting hunched over a desk for hours can cause serious aches, pains and muscle tension, and this takes a serious toll on your productivity and your health. Avoid staying in one position for hours. Do some simple stretches at your desk, and stand up and move around every hour to keep your body and mind energized.
Give these stretches a try.
Neck: Shrug your shoulders as you take a deep breath. Hold shoulders to your ears and then drop as you exhale slowly and completely. Repeat two to three times.
Hands and wrists: Shake out your hands and fingers to loosen up tension. Then, extending both arms in front with palms out, use one hand to pull back on your fingers for a gentle stretch, then flip hand forward and stretch the opposing muscles. Repeat on both sides.
Lower back: Sitting up straight in your chair, bring one knee to your chest and use one hand to pull your leg toward you. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch sides.
The Mayo Clinic offers a few other great stretching exercises to try.