Recent meta-analysis found that stress is work is just as bad as second-hand smoke when it comes to your health.
Furthermore, work-related stress not only increases the risk of illness, depression and anxiety, but this study also found that working long work hours (a component of workplace stress) increases the chances of early death by almost 20%.
So, how about you? How much stress do you have related to work?
On a scale from 0 to 10, where zero is “no stress at all” and 10 is “the most stressed out you could ever be,” how much stress comes up for you when you think about work?
How much stress do you have on your way to work?
How much stress do you have during your day?
How much stress do you have as you go home?
How much stress do you have when your head hits the pillow?
While it would be great if workplaces encouraged or even required that you work no more than eight hours a day, take frequent breaks, and even get in some yoga classes, that doesn’t always happen.
Ideally, there is a change in the entire work culture. And it can be done.
As a Psychologist and Coach, one of the areas of my consulting that has grown significantly in the past five years is analyzing and providing specific actionable steps to change the environment of the workplace to make it less stressful and more productive. The result? Less sick days, greater productivity, and better employee engagement.
If you can’t make systemic changes, what can you do? Here are three quick tips you can do today:
- Be proactive – start your day off right. Exercise is a great way to reduce your stress and get your brain ready for the day. Don’t have time to go to an hour spin class? No need for the “perfect” workout. A five-minute walk around the block is better than perfect and easy to fit into anyone’s day.
- Schedule breaks during the day – these breaks do not need to be a 90 minute yoga class, but even just stopping and taking five deep breaths can be a powerful way to reduce your stress and help you better focus on work. Other ways to take breaks include listening to a song that you like or even texting someone you love.
- Find meaning in what you do: When your work is meaningful to you, you’re a lot more resilient when it comes to stress. Develop a mission statement for you at work. This can include a focus on:
- How can you apply your values and strengths?
- Who are you helping?
- Why what you do is important?
- What significant impact are you making or could you make?