So you spend a third or more of your precious life moments in the confines of an office, or perhaps a fast paced banking hall or a private office, if you are among the blessed minority.
Good for you; you are living many people’s dreams. But chances are you are stressed, or maybe even too stressed. Well it happens. We all get stressed from time to time and if you are reading this you may be looking for a way to kick the stress out of your work place and life for good. So lets see; you may not be able kick stress out for good, at least that's what some guru says, but you can be able to reduce it to ‘normal’ levels or just turn them round for your good.
In this post I will provide some very helpful insights on how I have managed stress over many years in various work environments from the large commercial farm, a start-up farm, a classroom, a super fast paced food factory, laboratory, shared office, a calm personal office etc, how others have done the same, and how you can manage stress too.
Obviously there are many other ways to relieve stress at the work place...that's why I suggest you share you very own tips in the comments. Here we go....
1. Take short breaks
Attention span aside, taking short breaks between key tasks could be rewarding to your productivity. You get to regroup and you get back to work more focused while avoiding complete burnout. So when you begin to feel that dip in momentum it's probably time to give yourself a little break. What you do during a break and how long it takes is up to you; considering your work environment. A few minutes work well for some people.
2. Take a walk
When I was teaching in a school some years back, taking a walk around the few vegetation covers in the rather busy neighborhood was a go-to relief option from long episodes of long speaking sessions. Walking also has the added advantage of adding a bit more exercise in your life.
3. Look at nature or nature pictures
One of my personal favourites. The beautiful color hues, lush plants, wildflowers, blues waters and diverse wildlife; they all have a way of relieving stress levels. One research ascribes health benefits to well being from viewing landscapes. Three main health effects were discovered in the study; 'short-term recovery from stress or mental fatigue, faster physical recovery from illness and long-term overall improvement on people's health and well-being' If you are unable to view real nature, looking at nature pics may be a good idea.
Here are some websites with interesting nature pictures.
4. Alternate complex tasks with simpler tasks.
Giant tasks can leave you wondering where to begin and this can be stressful. Not all your tasks are created equal; some will require more brain power than others and some will require more physical power. In general it's a good idea to start off with a couple of easy and quick but important tasks to kind of set you in ‘achievement mode.’ This could be responding to an email or making some follow up calls. You could then move to the more challenging tasks and then come back to some simpler tasks when you are getting exhausted. You will notice different strategies may work well for different people so you may want to explore your options and settle on what works best for your situation.
A spin-off from the point above is to breakdown complex tasks into smaller tasks and then address then accordingly. As an example; lets say you have a monthly management report that spans 15 pages and takes minutes of writers block before you get any words down. You can break the report down into the typical headings such as introduction, key targets for the month, staff attendance and motivation, resources outlook, deliverables etc. Then think of each heading as a separate task and then set targets for completing each heading separately; eg to complete the introduction section in then next one hour. Remember to reward yourself with a 5 minute break if you can. This strategy works surprisingly well.
5. Take advantage of your ‘prime time’ for more complex tasks
It is said that people tend to have different ‘prime times’ where they are at their most efficient. This may be due to individual lifestyles and this may change from time to time with the same individual. Whatever your current prime time is, take advantage of those moments and get your best work done. This can save you quite some stress knowing you were able to get things done during your peak hours.
6. Move and work in a different location.
Sometimes, at the office, when I get a bit of a 'workers block,' I pick up the laptop and move to another nearby location for some minutes, say the conference room or one of the smaller meeting spaces. It helps to break the monotony, and sometimes some inspirational thoughts and aha! moments drop in too. Obviously this will not work for everyone, but if it does for you you could give it a try.
7. Draw something... just about anything
This one can be both fun and funny!
Now let's try this fun exercise ; it is easy, fun and will take just a few minutes.
Great! So follow the instructions below;
Here is your list....draw what corresponds to your number
- A girl running
- A boy playing football
- The map of Ghana
- A mansion
- Map of Africa
Take a minute to look at your drawing again and then return; I bet you smiled.
Now check out my tiger drawing below;
Cute right? That's what I pulled off as a professional pencil artist; my future is bright. The only slight problem was I just forgot to extend the stripes to the face.
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8. Get on Google street view or Google Earth and see some dream places
This is one of my all-time favourites...kind off super inspiring. Check out your childhood neighbourhoods, pre-visit your dream vacations cities or just wonder around some of the world's famous monuments. You can sit in the comfort of your home and office during a break and visit many cities around the world. This can be very relaxing. Very helpful for people who love travel and adventure.
That's the famous black star square in Ghana from Google maps...
And that's an aerial view of my childhood neighbourhood
And a Google street view of my childhood neighbourhood.
9. Back-up your work
Loosing your work can be such a stress feeder. I have had two external hard disk crashes in the past three years or so and they are not pleasant moments in any way.
Here is how it might play out; First you lose those precious pics with your favorite cat or pet cousin, or probably your collections of 423 movies and tv shows that took 8 years to collect. Then you set out on a quest to recover your files. You Google to find out your options which starts with downloading a few free software. They don't work too well so you shell out some cash for paid recovery software. You soon discover it's a physical drive damage and the software solution will not cut it; by this time you are getting really agitated. You discover there are professional data recovery services; but just when some little bit of hope begins to clean the stress out you also learn the recovery service is charging close to outrageous fees for the service. Should you pay that much to recover your cat videos, famous pics with bro Tom, and those few important files??
Well save yourself the stress; simply back up your important files in reliable locations.
10. Your turn....
Now brainstorm some additional things you can do to help relief stress at work and share your ideas in the comments box below.