Between work, graduate school, being maid of honor in my sister’s wedding and apartment hunting, plus the normal every day routines of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, spending time with loved ones and trying to get a little alone time, life can get pretty stressful. Instead of pulling my hair out though, I aim to stay calm, cool and collected, and everything always gets accomplished.
It’s a much sexier trait to have stress under control than to let it overwhelm you, in my opinion. Two things that I do to help reduce stress include making lists (for everything, as you read in my blog with advice from the List Producer) and painting my nails (it relaxes me). I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping my stress levels in check, though sometimes this means not socializing at work or seeing friends for weeks on end. Nevertheless, it works for me and I feel more productive.
I did some further research on ways to reduce stress, especially in the workplace as that can oftentimes carry over into our personal lives. After reading a plethora of articles, here are the seven best bits of advice I found for lowering stress levels at work:
1. Keep a positive attitude.
First and foremost, I believe in keeping a positive attitude about situations as often as possible – and WebMD supports this idea. According to “Tips for Reducing Stress,” WebMD says that we need to give ourselves positive messages such as “I’m doing my best.” One way to stay positive at work is to keep inspirational quotes on your desk. Print out a few and pin or tape them around you as small reminders that everything will be OK.
2. Learn to “satisfice.”
The first time I read this tip, I couldn’t believe it. According to Time’s article, “6 Things the Most Organized People Do Every Day,” there is power in doing something “good enough.” The article points out that sometimes not every decision or task needs to be done perfectly (and trust me, I am a perfectionist). The article says to “save your limited decision-making power for the things that matter. Everything else should be ‘satisficed.’” When you don’t have to make everything perfect, decide which projects are the most important and put more of your time and effort into those. The others will probably be fine with a little less time and effort. They’ll be “good enough.”
3. Eat healthy.
One thing I try to do on a daily basis is eat healthy – oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, yogurt, nuts and water. I also find that when I eat this way, I am way more productive. However, sometimes I slip and have a bagel or a bag of chips, and when I do, I find my brain doesn’t function as well, which leads to more stress. According to Forbes’s “12 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work,” eating right can go a long way. When we eat foods that lack the nutrition we need, it puts stress on our body (literally) and adds stress to our day because we may not be able to get as much done due to a lack of energy.
4. Set limits.
It’s great to always be connected through e-mail, texts and instant messaging, but if it cuts into your daily responsibilities, it may add to your stress levels. According to the American Psychology Association, establishing boundaries in the workplace and at home is very important for reducing stress. Additionally, I find that when I have a lot to accomplish during the day, small side conversations stress me out or distract me. If you have an office, close the door and get work done before taking a break to catch up with a coworker. If you sit in a cubicle, put on headphones when you need to focus and don’t want interruptions. Your boss surely won’t be upset if you’re just trying to get more accomplished and off your to-do list. Lastly, turn your cell phone off for an hour or so if you can; those text messages can probably wait.
5. Get organized.
Before I get down to business, whether that be at home for a grad school assignment or at work before I write an article or tackle a project, I always clean up my work area (and sometimes other areas – I swear, it’s not procrastination). According to the Huffington Post’s “Stress Relief: Tips to De-Stress in a Minute or Less,” cleaning your desk of clutter can help “reset your workflow and clear your head.” Oftentimes, physical clutter is a reflection of the clutter in your life, and you need to clean up both in order to truly feel better. Get organized and you’ll be (and feel) more productive, which can in turn lower stress levels.
6. Sing it out.
The Huffington Post article that I just referenced also has two pieces of advice that I am adding together to make this one – sing it out. The article suggests shouting as a way of letting out the emotion inside and it also suggests turning on your favorite song for a jam session that will relieve stress. Instead, I think singing out stress is a great way to rid it. For example, I have an hour-plus drive home from work in the evenings. If I am feeling stressed from the day’s events or for the work I’ll need to get done once I am home, I often plug in my iPod and turn on a playlist that I can really belt out. I turn it up loud and sing while driving down the highway – no one can hear me, and I always just feel so much better when I get home.
7. Make time for fun.
Last, but certainly not least, make time for fun. Literally make the time. Set a reminder on your phone, add it to your e-mail calendar or pencil it into your planner. However you do it, just do it. As I said in the intro for this blog, I love painting my nails. It’s something that I enjoy doing (not to mention it saves me a lot of money when I do them myself) and it relaxes me. I also make time for girls’ nights, dinner with my boyfriend, mall trips with my mom and other fun stuff. If you work hard, then you have to play just as hard. You deserve it.