There’s no denying workplace stress is at an all-time high. Jobs are insecure, the pressure is on and pivoting fast has become the name of the business game.
Managers are making tough decisions about budgets and workers. Changes to funding, grants and finance under the various different schemes is stretching finance and accounting staff to their limits.
Ex-freelancers are being roped into school people emotionally and technologically with remote work.
Parents are feeling increased pressure as they have to measure up the needs between virtual schooling arrangements and workplace productivity.
Stress is coming from all directions for Australian workers right now. And there’s an awful lot that is sadly out of even the best employer’s control.
That’s where resilience comes in handy. Being able to fill up your tank and keep motoring is really important.
So today, we’re going to take a look at ways you can relieve workplace stress each and every day
Take time out for you
Resilience doesn’t come from an empty cup. Having time away from the demands of servicing others has to occur. In these difficult times, it may seem like a huge undertaking, yet taking time out for yourself will do a lot to protect a worker from the impact of workplace stress.
It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, either. 20 minutes a day can help you stay calmer, more focused and better able to cope with the unexpected.
Here are some tips on how you can find that precious 20 minutes for self-care:
- Make sure you take your lunch break away from the computer. As simple as it sounds, taking a walk, eating at the kitchen table instead of at the computer or spending time with a pet or in the garden after eating can do a tremendous amount
- Start the day on your terms, even if that means getting up earlier. If you want to read up on the daily news, re-do your to do list, catch up with reading or practice your skills, getting up before the household awakens can be a real positive change
- Never underestimate the magical powers in a cup of tea. Respecting your morning and afternoon tea breaks can give you a mini boost at times where you may find your motivation flagging. Small breaks on schedule can help reduce workplace stress
- Shut the door on work. When you first start working from home, the temptation may be to work all the time. But you don’t have to accept workplace stress in the home as part of the new normal at home. Shut the door to the office or the top to the laptop. Be OK with finding a new timetable of work and exercising some of the workplace flexibility needed to balance parenting and worker life during these unusual times
Look for opportunities to exercise
Exercise and movement are great ways to relieve workplace stress. Our bodies perform well when we give ourselves the opportunity to run, walk and bicycle. You don’t have to make it an extra special item on your TO DO list either.
Some great ways to sneak in incidental exercise when working from home include:
- Sharing lunchtime with the kids and joining in with them when they run and play
- If you need to get groceries, bicycle or walk to and from the shops
- Pushing prams, trolleys and other items can be a great source of resistance exercise
- Try gentle stretches with your desk, lounge or in front of the TV
Moving your body and stretching muscles helps relax and relieve workplace stress you when you need it the most.
Discover the benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of being present in the moment. With mindfulness, we don’t worry about the future or mourn for the past. Instead, we choose to connect and relate to the world around us in that exact moment.
With the future so uncertain through to economic downturn and winter coming, and the grief associated with what has been lost with coronavirus, now is a great time to adopt a day by day strategy. We have only short bursts of influence at the moment and the world is changing a lot. Therefore, hooking into the present is an amazing gift, even without the workplace stress reductions!
Focusing on the present and a task at hand is incredibly powerful. Mindfulness reduces workplace stress and other emotional reactions. It lowers our heart rate and improves our ability to think and cope with situations under pressure.
And you don’t have to meditate to chants or sit cross-legged like a yogi to experience mindfulness.
Some common ways you can reduce workplace stress through mindfulness are:
- Meditation via apps such as Calm
- Painting and drawing pictures or sketching and mapping thoughts
- Gardening and tending to plants
- Exercise and movement- especially exercise such as tai chi, martial arts, yoga and Pilates
- Writing in a journal about thoughts and feelings under reflective practice
- Reading a book such as fiction or an engrossing biography
- Listening to podcasts with a single focus
- Singing and/or playing a musical instrument
- Knitting, crochet and stitching tapestry
- Mending, fixing or building items that consume our attention
Just about any sort of exacting activity that requires a strong focus can help us experience mindfulness. And again, only 20 minutes a day is required to feel the benefits.
Encourage connection in your day
We all love to share stories, connect and laugh. Turns out, they are also great workplace stress relief, too.
When we begin to work remotely, we lose those small moments of connection. The chat in the tearoom or when we ask someone how their weekend was are small yet sorely missed moments. The time we debrief after a difficult interaction with customer or co-worker are absent. The daggy team moments over the birthday cake or sharing a joke bring longing.
We start realising the benefits of being together are important after all.
For example, laughter relaxes us and allows the stress and tension in the muscles to flow out of the body. It triggers wonderful chemicals in the brain called endorphins that help boost our mood, help us feel better and even reduce pain. Having a good belly laugh can also help with boosting your immunity plus increasing blood flow, both of which help with physical and heart health.
Or debriefing over a situation can help us gain clarity, exercise critical thinking and lower the temperature on emotional reactions. Being connected gives us an excuse to move away from the desk and get some quality time at lunch and throughout the working day.
It’s these moments to be human with another person that protects our workplace stress levels from blowing up.
How you can bridge the gap when you’re working from home:
- Loop into Zoom meetings and make connections that way
- Organise a call with your favourite workplace colleague to check in on how they’re doing
- Pitch to the HR department to have virtual coworking days to check in
- Have stand up meetings, start of the week check-ins and end of the week wrap sessions to touch base
- Don’t leave it up to email to fill the gaps. Make time for phone and video calls to stay connected
Make the effort to put the community elements back into your workplace, even when working from home.
Want more ways to relieve workplace stress?
Unashamedly Creative can assess your ability to communicate and put in place strategies to help you lower workplace stress while you work from home now or in the future.
I can also help you improve your online culture to head-off sticky situations before they happen.
Want to know what I can do to lower your workplace stress quotient? GET IN TOUCH NOW.
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