Work is stressful. At some point or another, you have either worked in an office or known someone who has come to you to vent about how stressful working in an office can be. Maybe all the typical advice about reducing workplace stress, such as talking things over calmly with your boss or voicing your concerns openly with co-workers, haven’t worked. What else can you do? You have to go to work. But prolonged stress and anxiety, over time, can really damage your mental and physical health?
It might be time to get a little creative when coming up with new ways to feel less stressed at work. Here are six ideas that might make it a little easier to get through even your most difficult work weeks.
1. Walk around
There are two possible benefits to walking around the block, for example, at some point throughout your work day, such as during your lunch break. The first is physical; the second is psychological. Walking, for one thing, is good for you. It helps get your heart rate up if you walk at a brisk pace. It allows you some fresh air and helps you rid your brain of all the clutter. It helps regulate your breathing and helps you burn off any excess energy you might have from the hours you have already worked.
On your walk, try to pass a store or building that can serve as an incentive to shift your mindset. For example, if you really like to read, try to walk past a local bookstore on your walk. Promise yourself a reward, such as a new book, at the end of your next pay period. That way, every time you walk past that store and think about the new book you are going to buy in a few weeks, it becomes a motivator for you to get back to work and make the most of it even when it is stressing you out too much.
2. Buy yourself a very tiny plant
Don’t underestimate the mood boosting, stress relieving, productivity inducing powers of office plants until you have something small and green growing on your desk. Plants have been shown to have numerous benefits among workplace employees. They are good for the air, help brighten up an often otherwise dull landscape and even give you something to pay attention to when you are stressed, especially if it’s real and you actually have to give it some water on a regular basis.
3. Listen to instrumental music while you work
This activity is loaded with physical and psychological benefits. For one thing, it blocks out excess noise that might distract you, such as someone talking on their phone a few cubicles over. For another, you can choose music that is slow and relaxing or upbeat and inspirational, depending on what you need to hear. As long as you check with your boss or supervisor to make sure it’s okay to wear headphones out on the floor (depending on the job, most offices won’t mind) you might find that some calming music while you work actually helps you settle down and focus, and doesn’t make you fall asleep. It’s worth a try, at least.
4. Suggest and take on a new project
Work is work; you are always going to be crossing off old tasks on your professional to-do list and starting new ones immediately after the fact. Deadlines are always going to run together and, sometimes, you are going to have to work a little overtime. While you are already doing that, why not suggest a new project to your boss—one that benefits your company and yourself? Think of a way you believe the business you work with could be improved, then ask your boss if it is something you might be able to take charge of. Ideally, it would be something you enjoy, so any associated tasks would seem less like work and more like a hobby you just happen to get paid to engage in.
Not only does this make you look good in front of your boss or supervisor—asking to take on more work for the company, regardless of whether or not you enjoy it, will impress just about any employer—but it also has the potential to give you something new to look forward to each time you go to work. If you are going to stress about something, it might as well be something you look forward to and want to perform particularly well on.
5. Start a workplace book club
Looking for new ways to get to know your co-workers? Why not start a book club? The voluntary group of book lovers can meet after hours or during lunch once or twice a month to discuss whichever book has been agreed upon to read. This lets everyone get to know each other better, outside the work environment, and allows the potential for stronger professional relationships, which can make team work and collaboration on projects and presentations for the company run mush smoother. Reducing unnecessary workplace drama might be a lot less stressful than you might think.
6. Befriend a co-worker
And not just any co-worker; a fellow employee who lifts you up and has a positive attitude. This is a nice alternative to the above suggestion if you tend to be a little nervous in larger groups. Getting to know someone outside of work can be a good opportunity to talk about things that bother you about the place you work and the people you work with in a more private and constructive environment. Just knowing someone else has similar concerns and opinions as you can really help make going to work every day seem a lot less isolating and frustrating.
Feeling stressed at work isn’t fun, and sometimes the only thing you can do is find little things to make each day a little bit more manageable. Even trying one or two of these things to see if they work might help you dread going into the office just a little bit less.