Oh! You still create time to find this on the internet? That’s commendable! Isn’t it? I’m glad you are passionate about getting relief from the stress you’re going through.
Stress and work seem to be inseparable. Sooner or later, the demands of work will pose some level of stress on you, even if you love what you do. And if you are currently working, you should be able to relate well to this.
Impromptu projects, unplanned meetings, close deadlines, customers ‘trouble’, and many more can easily contribute to extreme work stress.
With extreme work stress, happening again and again, many folks are thinking, “I’m stressed at work, should I quit?”.
Well, my advice to you, if you are yet to do anything (or have done little) about the stress you are experiencing at your current job is, don’t quit. Yes, don’t consider quitting first. Finding a low-stress job is difficult (if not impossible). Therefore, quitting your job because of stress is not so much a good reason, which makes coping with stress at work a necessity.
Constant job stress can be overwhelming and dangerous to both physical and emotional health. Coping with stress at work will, therefore, not only help you achieve your goals at your job, but it will also benefit your health.
The demands of your work shouldn’t endanger your well-being, job satisfaction, or productivity. So whatever the demands, you need to be aware of the fun and creative ways to reduce stress at work.
What Is Work Stress
Before going into the fun and creative ways to reduce stress at work, let’s discuss what work stress is and what it is not. But just before that, let me mention what stress is.
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It is the result of emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factors that require a response to change.
Stress is your body’s reaction to demand. Hence, it is easy to get stressed by anything that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or constantly stretches you.
So, what is work stress?
Work stress refers to the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.
Work stress is not the same thing as a challenge. You must know how to differentiate both.
Challenge is a major ingredient for healthy and productive work. It energizes an employee psychologically and physically, providing the motivation to learn and master new skills.
However, some stress is permitted. But when it occurs in large amounts, one’s mental and physical health can be affected negatively. One of the coping skills for work that employees must possess is the ability to deal with work stress because it can determine their success or failure in a role.
Thankfully, a lot of research has been done that, provides employers and leadership with a better understanding of work stress and how to prevent it. For employees, coping with stress at work is key.
Workplace Stress Statistics
Work stress has become a common and costly problem in our world today, leaving very few workers untouched. Here are some workplace stress statistics that show the increasing difficulty of workers to balance their professional and personal lives due to workplace stress.
Forbes revealed that “The average business professional has 30 to 100 projects on their plate.
“Modern workers are interrupted seven times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours a day. And four out of 10 people working at large companies are experiencing a major corporate restructuring, and therefore facing uncertainly about their futures. This may be why more than 40% of adults say they lie awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day.”
Express.co.uk revealed that “Relationship counselors believe work-life balance is the third biggest strain on couple relationships (after affairs and not understanding each other, and ahead of money worries and different sex drives).
A report from Relate and Relationships Scotland found out that work-life balance has resulted in more illness and worse performance, and more resignations. Whilst those satisfied with work and work-life balance are more likely to perform better and be more productive.
Express also revealed that “One in three workers say their boss wants work to come before family life, and a third also say their employer thinks the ideal employee should be available 24 hours a day.”
The report, Labour of Love or Love vs Labour found out that as many as 30 percent are under pressure to work even when they are sick.
One in five employees says attending to any of their caring responsibilities, either of children or elderly relatives is frowned upon at work.
43 percent of employees would like their employer to provide relationship counseling and support in the same way they provide private medical treatment or pensions.”
60 percent of people in the United States consider their job a major source of stress – this is based on an annual survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, the economy, family responsibilities, and even personal health concerns ranked below job stress.
Thankfully, research on work stress has increased in recent years. And in this article, I will be discussing the causes, effects of work stress and, the fun and creative ways to reduce stress at work.
Causes of Stress At Work
Depending on an individual worker’s professional and personal life, there are several factors that may influence one’s reactions to the requirements of a job. However, it’s important that you know the various causes of stress at work. Knowing the causes of stress at work is a major step to Coping with stress at work.
Here are the top 10 causes of stress at work.
• The anxiety of being laid off unexpectedly
• Overworking due to staff strength reduction
• The constant demand for efficiency to meet the rising expectation of the management
• Conflicting demands or vague expectations to perform better
• Undue demand for high-level production at all times!
• Micromanagement. Workers can get stressed when they don’t have enough control over job-related decisions.
• Unsatisfactory remuneration
• High workload
• Few opportunities for career growth or advancement
• Work that isn’t engaging or challenging
Effects of Stress In The Workplace
Take, for example, your boss e-mailed you about an unfinished assignment, and a seemingly unrealistic deadline was given – a deadline that will only be achievable if you can work late into the night to complete the task.
Your body and mind will instantly respond by activating the fight-or-flight response. In most cases, your heart begins to beat faster, your breath quickens, and your muscles get tensed. You may even feel all the anger in this world at that moment.
After the whole drama, you will most likely say to yourself “I’m going to get fired if I don’t finish this.” Then to manage the whole situation and feelings, you work late into the night to complete the task.
But what happens if you encounter stressful experiences like this at work every day? What will be the effects of these stressful experiences?
The effects of stress in the workplace wouldn’t just disappear because you have left the office for the day. Constant job stress can take a toll on your health and well-being, and even affect the organization you work for.
Coping with stress at work will require that you know the effects of stress in the workplace, so you can be aware of the damage constant job stress does to you, those around you, and your organization.
1. Effects On The Individual
I won’t be wrong to say that the number one victim of the effects of stress in the workplace is the individual. Mentioned below are some effects of stress on the individual.
• Sleep disturbances
• Gastrointestinal upset
• Raised blood pressure/cardiovascular disease
• Anxiety and irritability
• Labile emotions
• Loss of concentration
• Lack of motivation
• Difficulty with the thought process
• Loss of memory
• Poor decision-making
• Substance (including alcohol) misuse
• Decreased libido
• Inappropriate display of behavior
2. Effects on The Organization And Co-Workers
Protecting workers’ health and well-being should always be a priority for every employer. This is because it is unavoidable that stress in the workforce will affect an organization on a financial and operational level.
Here are some ways that work stress affects an organization and other workers.
• High absenteeism
• High labor turnover
• Poor timekeeping
• Poor performance and productivity
• Low morale
• Poor motivation
• Increased employee complaints
• Increased ill-health, accidents, and incidents reports
• Other staff might have to plug gaps in the workforce when the individual is taking time off because of stress, leading to a heavier workload on them.
• The difficulty of getting help from Co-workers. Colleagues and managers will probably want to help anyone who is overwhelmed with stress, but might not know how to do so.
3. Effects on Those Around You – Partner, Family, and Friends
A person’s professional productivity is not the only thing affected by work stress. The individual is not the only person affected by constant job stress. The organization you work for is not the only entity affected when you experience constant job stress. Your co-workers are not the only people that are affected when you are stressed at work.
Workplace stress has adverse effects on the relationships you share with your loved ones. And the inability to sustain healthy and happy relationships with the people around you will affect your mental health as well. Coping with stress at work will not only be beneficial to your organization but also your family and relationships.
Here are a few ways of how work stress can affect your relationship.
• Work stress is contagious. Researchers have found that exposure to a burned-out partner or loved one increases one’s level of burnout
• Social withdrawal
• Lack of energy and motivation to connect with and spend quality time with one’s partner
• Unpleasant to be around
• Reduced communication with your loved ones
• Reduced marital and life satisfaction
• Failure to do your fair share of domestic chores
Coping with Stress at Work / Creative Ways to Reduce Stress at Work
Having discussed some fun ways to relieve stress at work, let’s discuss some creative ways to reduce stress at work.
1. Act Rather Than React
Melnick says “We experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control.” She, therefore, advises that you pinpoint clearly the aspects of the situation you can control and aspects you can’t.
Generally, you’re in control of your actions and responses, but not in control of the macro forces or someone else’s tone. Do well to control what you can and try to let go of the rest.
2. Start Exercising or Exercise More
Exercise is one of the most important ways of coping with stress at work.
Putting some physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress. You benefit a lot from exercise when you do it regularly. Exercise takes your mind off the stress of the job to focus on the task you have in front of you. It also improves moods by increasing the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
Aside from the daily exercises you do, here are some exercise tips to engage in while at work:
• Go for a walk during lunch breaks or when you start feeling stressed.
This simple but effective exercise will revitalize your mind and body. BittyFoods CEO Megan Miller revealed that she exercises daily by taking calls while strolling through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Los Angeles based skincare brand Murad also encourages workers to take a walk during the day by installing a walking track in their office space.
• Do some stretching out. Get up from your desk and take a few minutes to stretch your body.
3. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery involves the use of your mind. It is like taking a short vacation in your mind. It can involve imagining yourself being in your “happy place”—maybe picturing yourself sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you.
With the help of a guided imagery recording – where you listen to someone walk you through a peaceful scene, a professional helper, you can engage in this activity. Or, once you know how to do it yourself, you can practice guided imagery on your own.
Simply close your eyes for a minute and imagine yourself walking through a peaceful scene. The goal is to be as real as possible in your imagination. Think about all the sensory experiences you’d engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you’re really there. After a few minutes, open your eyes and return to the present moment.
Meditation is a popular way to relieve stress among people of all walks of life. It relieves stress in the short-term as well as providing lasting stress management benefits. There are various forms of meditation to engage in, and each one is unique and brings its allure.
You might develop a mantra that you repeat in your mind as you take slow deep breaths. Or, you might take a few minutes to practice mindfulness, which involves being in the moment. Simply pay attention to what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.
5. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a stress reliever with great benefits. It can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment. Researchers claim certain scents can interrupt brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body.
So you can consider introducing some aromatherapy into your day, it could be candles, diffusers, or body products.
6. Create Artwork
Paying close attention to the creative part of yourself is a good way to relieve stress at work. If you are not into painting or drawing, consider a coloring book. The demand for adult coloring books is increasing for a good reason which means that coloring is a great stress reliever.
7. Cut out Things That Add to Your Stress
The best way for you to reduce stress sometimes is to cut some things out of your life. Identify the things that are adding to your stress and get rid of them if you can, so, you can experience more peace.
8. Reassess Your To-Do Lists
Many people try to do 20 hours’ worth of work in 16 hours. No, it doesn’t work that way; you’re surely going to be stressed. Reducing your workload will help you get through the day in good condition.
Whether that means delegating one or two tasks to someone else, calling for assistance, learning to say no in the most polite way, or stepping away from a committee you joined.
One of the effects of good time management is that it goes a long way in helping to reduce stress. Improving your time management skills can allow you to minimize the amount of stress you experience, and better manage the unavoidable ones.
9. Prioritize Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet can help you fight stress over the long haul. Foods like eggs, avocado, and walnuts are good for mood regulation and energy balance.
Consuming an unhealthy diet can cause greater reactivity toward stress. Emotional eating and consuming foods that have high fat and high sugar can give temporary pleasure that will eventually lead to long-term stress.
Avoid food that can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety.
10. Make Time For Leisure Activities
This for me is one of the most important workplace stress safety tips. Leisure activities are a wonderful way to relieve stress. Yet, many people are too busy with games and have fun – they think they don’t need it. But creating time for leisure in your busy schedule could be key to helping you feel your best and give your best to the task at hand. Leisure time can make your work time more efficient.
You can use your leisure time to play some table sports in the workplace if it is available. And if it is not available, you can liaise with your boss to provide one. You can also use your leisure time to do something that gives you joy – that makes you come alive.
11. Consider Stress Relief Products
There are several stress relief products that you can use. These products can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common ones, according to healthline.com:
• Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that is known for its anti-anxiety effects.
• Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A study revealed that medical students who received omega-3 supplements experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms.
• Green Tea
Green tea is said to contain many polyphenol antioxidants that provide health benefits. It lowers stress and anxiety by increasing the serotonin level.
• Kava kava
Kava kava is a psychoactive member of the pepper family. Long used as a sedative in the South Pacific, it is widely used in Europe and the US to treat mild stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stress and anxiety. Several studies suggest that it’s effective.
Valerian root is a popular sleep aid due to its tranquilizing effect. It contains valerenic acid, which alters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors to lower anxiety.
It’s however important to note that some products can interact with medications or have side effects, hence the need to consult with a doctor if you have a medical condition.
Fun Ways to Relieve Stress at Work
Stress sometimes can be overwhelming, so we need some quick and fun ways to relieve stress at work. Here are some fun ways to relieve stress at work.
1. Take the Shoes off
Sounds weird right? Well, going barefoot at work could be a fun and easy way to relax in the office.
While some people believe it’s poor etiquette to put your shoes off in the workplace, others have embraced it. “Well, it keeps the carpet clean,” Amanda Levete tells the Guardian.”
Also (being barefoot is) a great leveler, and it’s relaxing: You can put your feet on the sofas.”
“Putting the soles of your feet in contact with all the normal sensations helps to relieve internal tension and reduce stress,” says Dieter Breithecker head of Germany’s Federal Institute for Posture and Mobilization.
“Shoes, on the other hand, prevent direct contact with the ground and so adversely affect the health of our feet, balance, and posture.” Breithecker continued.
Foot manipulation is a long-held practice in some eastern healthcare philosophies used to affect the rest of the mind and body.
2. Take A Deep Breath
When worry starts to get the better of you, try taking a deep breath. Try to slow your breathing overall first, then inhale until your lungs are fully expanded, and slowly exhale. Repeat several times until you feel a greater sense of calm.
What this will do for you is that it will slow your heart rate, and also activate your parasympathetic nervous system, a system responsible for relaxation response, your body’s way of relieving stress.
Another method is breathing while holding one nostril closed. Avoid doing this in a meeting or a competence evaluation, though, so you don’t look weird.
3. Laugh Hysterically
Laughter can do a world of good toward keeping anxiety at bay. Laughing increases oxygen intake, stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles; releases endorphins; and stimulates circulation. Oh! That’s some good stuff. You sure need some of that. To make it easier for yourself, you might need to take a few minutes while at work to watch a funny video online.
Just be sure you’re not doing it when you may likely be penalized.
4. Scream! Yes, Scream
Screaming can help blow off some steam; so consider it whenever you feel stressed out at work.
You may feel a lot better after you’ve shouted out what’s bothering you. After all, in most cases when we are deeply affected by fear or anxiety, our first response is to make some kind of noise, and stifling that impulse isn’t very healthy.
Vocalizing your internal tension through screaming can be a powerful, therapeutic verbal release. Shouting causes our body to release the “feel good” chemicals that we all desire.
Dr. Peter Calafiura, an American psychiatrist, says, “Yelling might trigger some endorphins…. They might feel calm, and it might even be a little addictive. It’s really similar to a runner’s high. They’re getting the same effect in a different way.”
While screaming might be of great benefit to you when you are overwhelmed with stress, you need to keep in mind that your scream could have negative effects on the people who hear it.
Research has shown that the rough sounds of human screams can activate fear responses deep in the minds of those who hear them. You should be able to tell how scary this can be if you’ve ever heard a scream coming from a distance for an unknown reason.
So instead of endangering other people with your scream, you can go to the roof of your office building and scream, scream into a pillow, or better yet, scream into The Scream Box. The box is hand-held and has a foam that can absorb sound waves and reduces the noise by 90%.
5. Be on Good Terms With Your Boss
Develop a friendly and working relationship with your boss. You don’t have to be close pals but having a strong relationship with your boss or supervisors can ease a lot of tension in your daily work routine.
Your boss or supervisor should not make you afraid or uncertain, an open, honest discussion about expectations, goals, and strategy is the first step to developing mutual trust. When you feel frustrated and angry, discuss the way you feel with your boss politely, and don’t throw tantrums or wail. You’ll be thankful you did in the long run.
6. Let The Tears Flow
You sure know what I mean, right? Well if you don’t, I mean CRY! Let the tears flow down your cheek.
We were made to believe that tears are a sign of weakness and instability, but that’s not always true. Crying can be refreshing, it can save you from a total emotional meltdown. Crying when stressed or grieved remove toxins, reduce anxiety, and even kill bacteria.
The next time you’re overwhelmed by stress in the workplace, retreat to the restroom and have a good cry.
7. Try Shiatsu
“Shiatsu” translates as “finger pressure. It is a non-invasive therapy that may help reduce stress and contribute to overall well-being. Advocates of shiatsu believe that it has both preventative and remedial effects.
A firm shoulder and neck massage can really rub away the stress. You can use a do-it-yourself shiatsu massager if you are alone in the office. These tools are available for purchase online.
8. Go Bonsai
Bonsai plants are one of the best indoor plants for homes and offices. Not only because they make better the aesthetic appeal of the space, but also because they have multiple health and psychological benefits.
Bonsai plants are known to be a great stress reliever. Growing and pruning a bonsai tree can be a good way to relax.
9. Blow on Your Thumb
Subtly blowing cool air on your thumb can reduce stress. This is because your thumb has its pulse, and blowing on it will slow the pulse and therefore decrease your stress.
Dr. Arun Ghosh, of Spire Liverpool Hospital, says: ‘This idea has its roots in the fact that the thumb has its own pulse. If you can calm that pulse down, you’re effectively calming the heart down, too.
‘Blowing will cool the thumb and hence calm the heart rate, as cold does slow down your pulse. This method might also help because the act of blowing itself forces you to deepen your breathing, which calms your heart.’
10. Apply Pressure Between Your Second And Third Knuckles
Does this work? You probably will ask yourself. It actually works.
Apply medium pressure between the second and third knuckle of your finger, right where the finger meets the hand. And according to business psychologist Sharon Melnick, “It activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that fluttery feeling you feel when you’re nervous will end up going away.”
The next time you are stressed at work, you can try any of them. These ideas would make coping with stress at work easier for you.
These are some fun and creative ways to reduce stress at work. Finding the best ways to relieve stress may require you experimenting. Some strategies may require practice too. But it’s so important to keep looking for ways to manage life’s unavoidable ups and downs healthily.
Keeping stress at a manageable level is critical for your overall well-being as an employee. A lot of employees are struggling to cope with workplace stress. But I believe getting to this point with me should make coping with stress at work easier for you.
But it’s not enough to read up to this point, you need to experiment and put what you have learned into practice, only then can you be on the path to coping with stress at work.