Sure, everyone dreams of a low stress, high paying job. You know, the one with on-site daycare, company car, an unlimited expense account, and an in-house masseuse. Yeah, we haven’t found that job either. Instead, for many of us, work is just a lot of deadlines, quotas, and reports that needed to be finished yesterday. It’s enough to put a crunch on the most positive minded person.
An American Psychological Association survey found that 36% of workers are stressed during a typical workday. That’s a lot of us! The highest work stressors are low pay, lack of opportunity for advancement, heavy workload, unrealistic expectations, and long hours. If you’re stressed out just reading that list, then you probably need the following tips to help drain the stress from your workday.
Get Enough Sleep
Yes, your mom was right. You really do need to get enough sleep if you want to be able to function. The bad news is that stress can impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep. But then you don’t function well, so your job performance suffers, and then you’re more stressed—it’s a vicious cycle! To help you get to sleep even on a stressful day, try giving yourself two hours of screen free time before bed. Noise machines and blackout curtains also help. And if none of that works, talk to your doctor about a sleep aid.
Ok, your doctor is also right. Regular exercise offers a host of health benefits, including improving your mood and directly impacting stress levels. Whether you workout before work or after, you should consider those 20-30 minutes to be vital to your stress management regime.
Insist on a Lunch Break
It can be tempting to work through lunch when you feel like you’ve been playing catch-up all day, but your attempt to achieve hyper-productivity may actually be holding you back. You aren’t going to do your best work if your mind is overworked. Take a break in the middle of your day to nourish your body and recharge your mental batteries. Even if it’s only 20 minutes. Bonus points if you can get outside in a green space which can help improve your mood.
Leave the Stress at Work
Stress can be more manageable if you can pick it up and put it back down again. If your job is a perpetual source of stress, chances are there’s nothing you can do on your own to make it easier. Sometimes the best way to combat it is to compartmentalize it. Picture the stress at work like a hat you put on when you get to the office, and then take off when you’re leaving for the day. Leaving work at work is the best way to avoid burnout.
Take a Real Vacation
Vacations don’t just work while you’re on them. They can actually make you more productive when you’re back at work, boosting creativity and mood. Consider planning a getaway. It’ll give you something to look forward to when stress is high, it will give you a break from stress while you’re away, and it will help you work better when you return. So go ahead, take a real break!