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Reducing Stress at Work

Reducing Stress at Work

2020 has been the most stressful year many of us have ever faced. Stress occurs when we feel things are out of our control, and this year we have suddenly been faced with a massive load of external factors that we cannot control at the office, at home, and in our communities.

For those still working during this pandemic, stress can build up and make it feel impossible to get anything done. Common causes of stress at the office are excessive workloads, lack of opportunity to grow in one’s career, low salaries, distractions, unclear expectations, and fear of being disciplined, fired, or let go. Many of these stressors have been exacerbated by the pandemic’s effect on business.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce stress at work. The goal is to change what you can, and accept the things which you cannot change.

Change what you can

an organized desk with plants

Adjust your work environment

  • Add plants, paintings, photographs, and other things that make you feel comfortable and calm.
  • If possible, bring in natural light.
  • Keep the space clean and organized. Your mental space will reflect this.

Get organized and prioritize

A major cause of stress can be the feeling that there are too many things to do at once and never being able to really focus on any of them.

  • First, set your most important goals at work.
  • Then, determine which tasks will have the most impact on achieving those goals, and make those a priority.
  • Time-Blocking: Devote chunks of time in the day to do certain tasks, for example, only respond to emails in a certain window of time each day.
  • Use a calendar to keep track of your tasks so that you don’t have to keep that information in your head.

Set and maintain boundaries

Stress often arises when our boundaries are being crossed, which may be happening without us realizing it.

  • Think about what you are comfortable with people asking of you or doing to you.
  • Then set and maintain clear boundaries.
    • For example, if you do not want to work late, state calmly “I’m not comfortable working late.”
  • You do not have to apologize or make excuses for upholding your boundaries.

Communicate Honestly

  • Be honest with your supervisor and colleagues about your concerns.
    • For example, schedule a conversation to discuss their expectations of you and what you expect in return.

Take care of your health

We know this is easier said than done, but if you start by changing small habits and try to do them each day, eventually they will become second nature.

  • Exercise regularly – aim for 30 minutes a day.
  • Eat nutritious foods.
  • Sleep a full 8 hours a night, and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

Take time to recharge during the workday

Working straight through the day will wear you down and reduce productivity in the end. You need to recharge yourself to stay focused and calm.

  • Add breaks into your day.
    • Walk around (ideally outside).
    • Stretch.
    • Socialize with colleagues.
  • Try breathing exercises, especially in stressful moments.
    • For example, take a deep breath in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and then let the breath out slowly for 5 seconds. Repeat until you feel calm.

mindfulness - a boy sites underneath a brain and many thoughts

Work on your mental state

Your subjective view of your situation has a huge impact on how you feel in that space. If you view it as a negative or stressful place, shifting your perspective can make a big difference.

  • Practice empathy
    • Viewing a situation from someone else’s perspective helps you to understand why they may be acting the way they’re acting. Then, rather than taking their behavior as a personal attack, you can approach the situation in a constructive way.
  • Practice gratitude
    • When we shift our perspective to focus on things we are grateful for and focus less on the things that upset us, we open ourselves up for positivity.
      • For example, when you feel stressed about work, try to remind yourself to be grateful that you still have a regular income in this difficult economy.
  • Practice mindfulness.
    • This doesn’t have to involve meditation. Mindfulness just means being aware of the present circumstances. Take note of what is happening in this moment, inside your body, in your environment, and in your mind. Pay attention to it. The more often you do this, the less you will be worrying about the past and the future, which are major causes of stress.

Accept what you cannot change

Even if you have done all of these things, keep in mind that stressful external circumstances will still arise! Once you’ve adjusted your environment and your own habits, the rest is out of your control, and when things are not ideal, you simply must accept the reality.

You will be surprised how much comfort this can produce. Once the things you can control are under control, the rest won’t feel like a problem at all. You will be able to show up, meet yourself where you are at that day, be honest with those around you about your needs, execute what you can, and let the rest go.

We’re here to help

If there’s anything we can do to reduce your work stress, get in touch with us! For example, if you sign up for a virtual office, we will process your mail for you, taking that task off your hands. If you cannot afford to rent an office, the virtual office allows you to have a business address away from home that you can use for kvk registration. If you are not able to focus at home, you can make use of one of our flexdesks / coworking spaces.

We hope you stay safe and stress-free this year and beyond!

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