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Stress-Proof Your Workday: 8 Easy Steps to a Calmer and Productive You

Updated: Jan 30

An annoying client, a tight deadline, too much work, or an unsympathetic colleague. There can be several reasons for experiencing tremendous stress in the workplace. Although more and more damn good companies are implementing initiatives to prevent or solve that stress, stress reduction is an active process. Someone else cannot reduce stress for you. Below are 8 very simple and highly effective ways to better manage and even prevent stress yourself.

Growing concern for employees within companies

In recent years, we have seen a growing number of leading companies taking seriously the concern for a pleasant working atmosphere and optimal physical and mental health of employees.

For example, the graphics software manufacturer Adobe has the "Adobe Life" program. This is an employee wellness initiative aimed at promoting a healthy work-life balance and general well-being. For example, Adobe encourages its employees to prioritize their physical health by offering access to fitness centers, exercise classes, and wellness programs. They also offer mindfulness training, meditation sessions, and relaxation areas where employees can take a break and unwind. Another component is the possibility of flexible working arrangements, leave policies, and support in effectively managing workload.

Fortunately, Adobe is not alone in taking an active role in the well-being of its employees. Companies like Google, Airbnb, and SalesForce all have their own take on it. The days when companies saw their employees merely as expendable resources seem to be over in most Western countries. But what if all those programs are not enough and you still experience stress?

What can you do yourself to experience less stress in the workplace? 8 simple exercises.

  1. Do regular stretches or slow movements Standing up and stretching your arms, neck, and back seems so simple, but is hugely effective against workplace stress. This is because when we experience stress, our muscles tend to tighten. Especially in areas like the neck, shoulders, and back. Stretching helps release this tension by lengthening the muscles and thereby relaxing them. Equally important, stretching and slow movements promote blood circulation. It increases blood flow throughout the body. When you stretch, your muscles relax, which helps stimulate blood circulation. This allows oxygen and nutrients to reach your muscles and organs more efficiently, promoting overall well-being and reducing feelings of fatigue and tension. Stretching, stretching and slow movements also activate the body's relaxation response, releasing endorphins. This is our natural mood-enhancing chemical. Endorphins help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote a sense of calm and well-being. Stretching exercises and slow movements make you more aware of your body. It brings your attention to the present moment, allowing you to temporarily shift your focus away from work-related stressors.

  2. Focus on your breathing We all breathe, but when you start breathing consciously and do so-called 'deep' breathing exercises, a number of things happen in your body that allow you to relax.

  3. Take short breaks and especially go for a walk We have already devoted a whole article to how taking short breaks during a working day has several positive effects on your mood, energy levels, and mental clarity.

  4. Talk positively to yourself In the article on the effect of positive communication in the workplace, we discussed improved productivity and motivation in the workplace. But talking positively to yourself also has a hugely positive effect on de-stressing as well as preventing stress.

  5. Listen to calming or uplifting music Listening to calming or uplifting music during work breaks is perhaps one of the simplest and most useful strategies for de-stressing. This is because music has the ability to evoke strong emotional responses. Different types of music can evoke different emotions, such as happiness, calmness, or nostalgia. By choosing calming or uplifting music, you can consciously evoke positive emotions, which can counteract stress and create a more relaxed state of mind.

  6. Use humor in the workplace Using humor in the workplace includes watching funny videos or sharing a joke with a colleague. The main effect is that laughing releases endorphins and reduces stress hormones such as cortisol, which will improve your mood.

  7. Do a good deed every day Doing good deeds every day, such as performing acts of kindness, can reduce your stress at work by also releasing dopamine and serotonin.

  8. Engage in time management It's a headline, but a lack of time management skills is one of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace. Losing track of things and not setting priorities can even lead to a form of panic or a whole dislocated private and work balance. Because time management is so crucial, it is included in this list, but this skill is much more in need of explanation so I won't go into it further here.

You can do a lot about stress, but why is there stress?

If you experience stress in the workplace, above you have 7 handy tips on how to prevent and reduce it. But the fact that there is (too much and too long) stress can obviously never be a good sign. So check carefully whether you yourself are not comfortable in your own skin or whether there is something structurally wrong within the company. Working in a stressful environment for long periods of time can cause serious harmful health problems. It can lead to burnout, depression and, in the worst case, it can even lead to heart disease, for example.

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