Anyone willing to come up with a (legal) way to reduce workplace stress for the millions of people who head into an office every single day, they’d be instant gazillionaires; because we’d all be buying it. My husband loves his career, but he still comes home stressed and overwhelmed many evenings. His plate is too full, his schedule too packed and there are times – most days – when his phone rings nonstop all evening and sometimes beginning at 5 am with employees who need his help with a project, who cannot figure things out and who need him. Personally, I hate that. I want him home when he is home.
Few things bother me as much as when the kids hear the garage door open and daddy’s little red convertible pulling in and they become over the moon excited to see him, all four running to the garage to greet him with big hugs, smiles and screaming, “Daddy’s home, daddy’s home!” while the babies run behind them screaming, “Dada!” with excitement, and he walks into the house with a finger to his lips…on the phone. “What I’m going to need for you to do is check XYZ and do ABC and ensure that it’s been done correctly,” he’s saying as he is removing his tie and smiling distractedly at the kids.
Seriously? You’ve been gone since before they woke up and now you are walking into the house to see them for the first time today and that’s how you greet them? Since it’s not possible for him to leave work at work all the time, we’ve had to institute a rule requiring he stays in the driveway until he ends all calls so he can come into the house and greet his babies in the same manner they greet him – the distraction is too much, and it’s not fair to the kids. And, quite frankly, that kind of thing only takes away from my own ability to reduce workplace stress.
You see, my home is my workplace. I’ve been working from home since our oldest daughter was born in 2008. We now have four kids; two in school and twins who are only one and home with me. I have enough workplace stress to reduce of my own between all my kids, the distractions of working from home, the doorbell ringing and my friends and family asking me to do them favors all the time because I’m “home all day.”
I don’t know how to eliminate workplace stress, but I do know how to reduce you. You aren’t the master of all things in your life if you don’t know how to reduce workplace stress. When I begin to feel overwhelmed and out of sorts, I turn to my tried and true – and inexpensive – processes of reducing workplace stress so that I get rid of that overpowering feeling of being overwhelmed, frustrated and out of sorts.
Indulge in Something Amazing
We have a very kick-butt routine in our house every single day that allows me to maximize my work time in the mornings before anyone is up, get myself ready and get them ready for school, and 95% of the time we rock the mornings like KISS in concert. Sometimes, however, we cannot get it together. Someone wakes up early and I lose an hour of work with their needs, they won’t get ready quickly, we are running late, whatever; it happens. On those mornings, I feel the workplace stress (remember, this is my workplace, so pretend we are talking about yours) and I have to do something for me to change it up a bit. I usually make a run to Starbucks or whatever, pick up my favorite indulgent, calorie-laden latte or frap and enjoy. It’s a very simple act, but it’s seriously the most effective.
Take a Walk
Your coworkers can make you crazy with interruptions and with their problems and their attitudes; I know. Nothing is more irritating that unhappy people who complain all the time and never take pleasure in anything (we should talk more about the good in life rather than the negative). When you are feeling the need to reduce the workplace stress, I find that a short walk usually clears my head, calms me down and allows me to refocus my energies elsewhere.
Sometimes the day is just done and over with at a certain time throughout the morning and you are not getting it back. On those days, if you have the time and the ability to do so, cut out early and go do something for you. Go get a book and sit down somewhere gorgeous and read. Go get a manicure. Go pick your kids up from school and take them for frozen yogurt and a trip to the park. These are very little things, but they are very therapeutic in helping you to reduce workplace stress.
Get Rid of Distractions
No matter where you work, there are always distractions. There are emails buzzing on your phone, text messages coming in, social media alerts, coworkers who need a diaper changed or a meal given to them or some cuddles and love (or whatever your coworkers actually need), and you are distracted. Laundry, dishes, things around the house; big distractions. I’ve found that I can easily reduce workplace stress when I turn off my email alerts so that I get them once an hour, put my phone on private so that only calls can come through from my husband and my girls’ schools, and turn everything else off. I sit in my office so I can’t see the dishes or the laundry (I’m lying…I am too much of an OCD neat freak to allow things like that to go undone, so it’s not actually a problem for me). However, I can reduce my own workplace stress by minimizing and eliminating distractions that prevent me from becoming productive, and it’s quite simple.
Sometimes the only way to reduce workplace stress is to reward yourself with something amazing. What about a trip somewhere you’ve always enjoyed this weekend, such as your favorite beach or a day on the boat? What about a night in with your girlfriends and a couple bottles of wine and a lot of laughter? You can easily eliminate workplace stress by making yourself feel good in other areas of your life so that you can feel good then and bring that to the workplace with you.
Stop staying up late working and doing things that are only contributing to your stress. I’ve found that I always feel really good when I have 8 hours sleep. Sure, that requires that I go to bed at 9 pm, and I’m okay with that. I like to be up at 5 am, so I’m a morning person. I don’t like the evenings nearly as much, but getting a good night of sleep really does make my entire day feel that much better.
If there is one thing that adds to my stress more than anything, it’s an unhealthy diet. I have found that it is so easy for me to feel overwhelmed, grouchy and annoyed when I’m not eating well. I take those feelings and I bring them with me into my home office and I’m a grouch. When I’m eating well, however, I’ve found that I feel much better about myself, and when I feel better about myself, I find that I can reduce workplace stress. I no longer feel so irritated and angry with me, so I’m more likely to reduce the workplace stress I feel simply because I’m in a good mood. Go eat an apple and see the change in your mood.
We can’t all stop what we are doing in the middle of the workday and head to the gym or whatever, but sometimes we can add to our day by reducing our stress after work or beforehand. I am such a big believer that how you feel about yourself manifests itself in every area of your life, so why not be the best you can be and feel good? I don’t care if you like to lift weights, do yoga or zumba or you like to work out on the treadmill; all I’m saying is that you should work out and get some exercise each day. One way that I’ve found I can reduce my own workplace stress is to step away and do something active, such as jump on the trampoline with my kids or put in one of my CIZE DVDs and dance. It always helps.
Channel Your Inner Teen
Seriously, when the world is just overwhelming and you are in a mood thanks to all the stress of the day, there is no better way to get rid of it than to put the windows down, open the sunroof and turn the music up too loud while driving home. Sometimes I like to wait until my husband comes home to run errands on stressful days so that I can take his little red sports car, put the top down and unwind with the gorgeous Florida sun on my face and the wind in my hair. It’s not a big deal, but boy do I feel so much better about life when I’ve been listening to good music too loud.
Let it Go
Yes, we just love Elsa around our house. We have three girls, you know. Either way, she is correct. We often can reduce workplace stress by focusing on our own thoughts rather than other people. I know that I can stress myself out in a major way. I’m a perfectionist, so when something is not right, I make a silly mistake or I miscommunicate something, I beat myself up over it. I have to let go of my need to be perfect all the time and understand that I am not. When I feel the workplace stress sliding into my mood and bringing me down, I often ask myself if I’m the cause of my stress, and I look for ways that I can minimize the stress I cause myself so that I can reduce workplace stress and get back on track.
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