5 Ways To Reduce Stress at the Office

“I also think stress is related to control. When you’re in charge of your life, you tend to not care about losing control of things that don’t really matter like traffic jams.”
– Marilu Henner

1) Privacy & Focus Time – Open work spaces and cubicles are popular in many companies where continual employee interaction is considered productive. However a constant lack of privacy and quiet focus time adds to stress and reduced productivity over time.  If you work in an open space, find a quiet, private space where you can work for at least a couple of hours daily.

Ask for management and co-worker buy-in by having a “Focus Time” sign that people can post at their office or cubicle entrance.  Hanging of that sign is a gentle reminder to passersby that you are in focus time and not available for any drop-by meetings or interruptions during this time.

2) Turn off Email – Email can become addictive – and stressful. There’s a psychological need (curiosity) to open every email as it comes in.  Yet constantly opening email throughout the day can lead to overwhelm and an email in-box overflowing with emails requiring your attention.  Turn off your email alert sound and schedule two or three times daily to open and process your email.

Think of your email inbox as a virtual desk.  An overflowing with email is then akin to sitting at a desk overflowing with paper and files requiring your attention.

When you open an email, process it in the moment.  Is an action required? Handle the action immediately if you can do it within a few minutes.  If the action requires more time, note the action on your task list or calendar.  Remove ‘processed’ email from your inbox and place them in another folder.

3) Voicemail – Answering every phone call throughout the day can quickly become counter-productive.  Set aside a focus time period each day where you allow calls to go to voice mail while you focus on one task or project.

4) Breathe – One of the simplest relaxation techniques is deep breathing.  Taking in more oxygen relieves stress.  Sit in a comfortable position and place your hands on your stomach.  Inhale slowly and fully.  Allow your stomach to expand fully.  Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale through tight lips as if you are whistling.  Repeat several times.

5) Visualize – Sit in a private space and spend five or ten minutes in a relaxing daydream. Imagine yourself on the beach or in a natural environment that you enjoy.  Still feeling stressed about all the work that awaits you?  In your daydream, imagine yourself easily completing your work and achieving your work goals.

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