With the return to school completed, some of us will be still be running on the adrenaline rush from the start of the school year – new faces, implementing new ideas, and the chance to grow as an educator. However, as the night get shorter, the temperature drops and we get more school weeks under our belts it’s inevitable that stress will creep into our lives. For that reason I’m delighted to welcome Caroline Black back for another guest blog.
Caroline is an avid writer and health enthusiast who like to spend her free time getting fit at the gym, relaxing with friends, or reading about the latest evolutions in the wellbeing industry. With years of experience writing for health companies around the world, Caroline knows a thing or two about the wellness sector and loves sharing her insights with readers.
5 Ways to De-Stress at Work
For most people, the workplace is the primary source of stress.
In fact, stress is quickly becoming the most common workplace illness.
Whether it’s the constant stream of emails pinging their way into your inbox, or the demands of a boss that never seems to be happy, a career can be an overwhelming thing. The good news is that you don’t have to let the stress of the office bring you down.
Rather than spending your entire day filled to the brim with anxiety, it’s important to make sure that you have some steps in place to relax and unwind during your 9-to-5. Finding methods that help you to de-stress throughout the day can give you a better work-life balance and reduce your risk of burnout too. After all, if you place regular stress-banishing strategies into your schedule, you’re less likely to take your nerves home with you.
1. Give Yourself a Massage
What could be more relaxing than a nice, soothing massage?
If you’re worried about paying for a professional masseuse, or you’re concerned that inviting one into your office might upset your boss, don’t worry. You can perform mini massages on yourself throughout the day without alerting your coworkers or supervisors.
Ear massage is one of the best ways to rejuvenate and de-stress the body. It feels great, and medical studies have shown that “auricular acupressure” can reduce anxiety in both post-op and pre-op hospital patients. In other words, it should be just what the doctor ordered when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work.
All you need to do is massage your ear gently with your thumb and fore-finger, focusing on the middle section of the upper portion of the ear. According to Chinese medicine, pressure in this area helps to boost energy and decrease stress during even the most exhausting of days. If you have trouble finding the ultimate spot, simply massage your ears gently until you find the area that works best for you.
2. Take a Break
We often convince ourselves that we need to work non-stop if we want to be our most productive. After all, we’re sure to get more done if we commit to staring at our computer screens for ten hours straight, right? As productive as constant working might seem, it could actually be increasing your stress levels, and making it harder to concentrate. The more you force your brain to over-perform, the more exhausted you become, meaning that it’s practically impossible to complete any task with accuracy.
On the other hand, taking the occasional break can help to refresh your mind, and invigorate your creative side, so when you revisit your task, you’re more likely to get the results you’ve been looking for. Every couple of hours, make sure that you take the time to stand up and walk around the office. Grab a fresh cup of coffee to revitalize your senses and clear away the cobwebs in your mind and sip it for a few moments while you talk to your colleagues. These moments will give your brain the rest it needs and help you to improve your relationship with colleagues.
3. Work on Mindful Breathing
When you’re feeling stressed, the oldest trick in the book is to calm your senses and slow things down with one deep breath. While deep breathing is a great way to get yourself back on track, there are a few things you can do to make this technique even more effective too. For instance, a little visualization can go a long way.
When you breathe in, imagine the air flowing into your body like golden light, filling your stomach. Push your stomach out so you can draw the air down, then exhale for several seconds, really emptying your lungs of all that air. While you exhale, imagine that the stress is simply flowing out of you in waves.
You can take this breathing technique to the next level with a strategy called “progressive relaxation.” As you breathe in and out, focus on various parts of your body, starting with your toes, and try to release the tension within those muscles. It doesn’t take long to work through your entire body, eliminating points of tension you might not have noticed before.
4. Get Organized!
One of the biggest reasons that we end up feeling stressed at work is that we convince ourselves we have too much to do, and not enough time to do it all in. When you start each day with a pile of tasks that seems to overwhelm your desk, it’s not surprising that you end up feeling a little stressed. Instead of panicking and trying to tackle everything at once, take a deep breath, and get to work on organizing your schedule.
List the tasks you need to do before you leave work at the end of the day, getting rid of anything that’s not crucial, or can be delegated to someone else in your team. Once you’ve got your list, organize it with numbers from “most” important to least important. Ideally, you’ll want to do the most important tasks when you feel you’re most productive.
As you go through the day, tick off each project that you complete, so you can see yourself making progress. Remember to take things one at a time too – studies have shown that multi-tasking actually makes you less productive.
5. Get Outside
Finally, if you work indoors, either at a retail location or an office, then there’s a good chance you’ll spend most of your schedule at a desk or counter, staring at the same screen, monitor, or tablet. Some people assume that they need to stay shackled to that screen from the moment they arrive at work, to the moment they leave. However, studies have shown that taking short walks on your break, or simply standing outside can be enough to reset your brain and eliminate the symptoms of depression.
If you’re concerned that you can’t find time in your busy schedule to get outside, think about how you can fit a quick walk into your day. For instance, if you have a meeting with your team, suggest taking it outside if the weather is nice. Alternatively, you could consider walking to a nearby café for lunch or eating your food on a bench outside instead of at your desk. A change of scenery can do you a world of good when you’re struggling with stress.
While stress seems to be a common part of life for any employee, it doesn’t have to get the best of you. The tips above can help you to get more joy and satisfaction out of your career, by eliminating the constant issue of stress.
Which of Caroline’s suggestions do you implement in your self-care routine? Do you have others to share? Let’s keep the conversation going on social media using the hashtag #slowchathealth.
Are you interested in writing a guest blog post for #slowchathealth? With readership statistics soaring, theres never been a better time to share an idea, an example of something that worked for you in the classroom, or just share what’s on your mind regarding the world of #HealthEd.