Let’s face it, we live busy lives and sometimes it seems like we meet ourselves coming and going. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all our obligations and become stressed out. However, we don’t do our best work when we are stressed and it’s not good for our health either. Besides, stress in the workplace contributes to an unwelcoming and sometimes hostile culture.
The good news is that there are some simple tips you can implement immediately to reduce those feelings of stress and overwhelm. Even applying one or two of these tips when those feelings of stress creep in will help!
Tip #1 Breathe Deeply
Often when we are worried, angry, overwhelmed or scared we take shallow breaths. Our bodies naturally react to stressors in preparation for “fight or flight.” Blood flow carrying oxygen to organs is reduced so that we can defend ourselves. However, the majority of the time our stressful situations are not life threatening. Breathing deeply helps put the body back into a relaxed state. It tugs on the Vagus nerve which sends a signal to the brain to release the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin combats the negative effects of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Breath in for a count of 5, then hold for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 5. This method is referred to as triangle breathing. It’s simple and can be done at your desk or in your car or anywhere you find yourself feeling anxious. Develop a daily practice of doing deep breathing exercises even when you aren’t feeling stressed to reduce negative effects of stress hormones.
Tip #2 Take Action
Stress and overwhelm have a way of paralyzing us, but the worst thing we can do is nothing at all. This will only compound the problem. Start by doing something even if it’s as small as making an outline or a list of resources you will need to complete the project. Commit to working on it for just 15 minutes. You will be surprised by the amount you can get done in 15 minutes and in many cases you will have built up momentum and will not want to stop. Even if you must to stop, you’ll find it will be easier to jump back in later because of the momentum you gained and the progress you made.
Tip #3 Move Your Body
Exercise and movement gets the blood flowing triggering the release of “feel good” hormones called endorphins. A short 5 or 10 minute walk around the building can reduce stress and increase overall productivity. Some managers even hold walking meetings. These meetings not only reduce stress, but encourages collaboration, increases energy and productivity, facilitates personal connections, and generates inspiration.
In addition to short breaks at work, incorporating a daily walking routine or exercise regimen will reduce long term effects of stress and increase your overall energy and productivity.
Tip # 4 Reach Out for Support
Find a mentor or a trusted friend that will listen, offer feedback, and constructive criticism. Perhaps you can network with others who do similar work but for different organizations. Or consider seeking counsel of someone who is further along in their career and who has already experienced what you are dealing with. You can find support locally or even online. Another option is to hire a business coach who has knowledge of your industry and can help you consider options from a neutral yet insightful perspective.
Tip #5 Delegate
Take a close look at all the things you are doing. Are there tasks that really should be delegated? Are you doing things just to because you want control or are afraid no one will do it as well as you? It’s really easy to get bogged down by little things that are urgent yet take up precious time you could use to work on higher priority projects. Often these tasks are outside of your zone of genus and not really what you were hired to do. See if there is someone who would be better suited for the work within your organization and train them to assist you in completing all or a portion of it.
Tip #6 Give Unconditionally
Giving may seem counter intuitive because stress and overwhelm leaves us feeling depleted and as if we have nothing else to give. However, when you give freely and unconditionally to others, the world will give back to you. Think about it, when someone has helped you, don’t you want to find a way to return the favor or pay it forward? Giving unconditionally helps us forget our own problems and puts the focus on other people. When you see them happy because of something you did it makes you feel good inside as well.
Are you ready to say goodbye to stress and overwhelm? Start today and begin to incorporate these 6 tips into your daily routine!