Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work? Do you get the Sunday pre-work blues or the Friday panic to clear your desk? You’re certainly not alone with those feelings.
Research by Viking showed that over a quarter of UK office workers reported feeling stressed every day and over half of these said that the stress is physically affecting their health.
There are hundreds of articles available full of helpful tips about looking after yourself to reduce stress. However not all of them are scientifically based or can be fitted around your office day, so here are some suggestions with the backing of science that I hope you’ll be able to incorporate into your daily routine.
1. Eat healthily to avoid sugar peaks and crashes. Low blood sugar levels can cause you to feel anxious and irritable and susceptible to stress. So be curious about food before you eat it, does the label show a high level of hidden sugar? Low GI carbohydrates such as grains, beans, fruit and vegetables give a longer lasting energy source and keep the sugar level stable.
2. Take a break and read for at least 6 minutes or listen to music. By concentrating on reading and the distraction of the story, stress levels can be reduced by 68% according to research by Mindlab at the university of Sussex. Who also say that listening to music can also drop those levels by 61%.
3. Go green in your office. Studies by Washington State University found that by adding plants to a workplace, workers became less stressed and more productive and focused.
4. Try Aromatherapy. When you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed sniff lavender or rosemary essential oil for 5 minutes and your cortisol (the stress hormone) levels will reduce. Or you might prefer to burn a candle made with these essential oils, both will help you feel more relaxed as shown in research work published in the journal of Psychiatry Research.
5. Take a short lunchtime walk. It’s well known that exercising regularly reduces stress levels but not everyone can fit a gym session in. Instead why not take a short walk at lunchtime with your colleagues. A study that was reported in Time magazine, of admin workers over 10 weeks showed that walking just a few minutes at lunchtime helped them be more relaxed and enthusiastic for the rest of the day.
6. Limit reading emails to 3 times a day. A study from the University of British Columbia found that workers who restricted their email reading to 3 specific times a day, rather than just when they pop up are significantly stressed than other workers.
7. Mindfulness Meditation. This is all about staying in the present moment and avoiding being drawn into distracting thoughts. It is a simple and easy to learn practice which you can do for just a couple of minutes a a time and has been shown to produce a 29% reduction in stress symptoms according to the Centre for Mindfulness.
If you have a go at implementing these 7 tips into your working life, I’m sure you’ll feel the benefits of being more relaxed and able to cope at work.
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(Thanks to Brittney Helmrich for some of the research)