Stress is on the rise. Workers in developed and developing countries are facing increasing strain at work. Some of the reasons for the mounting stressors include global challenges, such as climate change, terrorism, and political turmoil – as well as personal and professional challenges, such as illnesses, job changes, and organizational restructuring.
For many, the initial response to stress is to look for external fixes. We turn to productivity tools or apps that promise to help us manage mounting pressures; or we look for ways to alleviate our discomfort: find a different job, hire a new employee to take on an increased workload, or switch careers. These solutions are often temporary and ineffective. Managing stress over the long-term requires cultivating your own resilience skills before seeking external solutions so that you can turn changes, stresses, and challenges into opportunities.
To begin to shift the way you deal with stress and cultivate resilience, there are a handful of things you can do right now. Following are some are 10 simple ways to manage stress at work that I received from the University of MN Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing:
Breathe – practice belly breathing. Do 4-7-8. Inhale to count of 4, hold your breath for count of 7 and exhale through mouth slowly through count of 8. Repeat 3 times.
Talk to Someone – If your stress is consuming you. Talk to a friend or colleague. Simply describing how you are feeling can lessen the burden and feel like you are not alone.
Be Grateful – In the middle of a tough day, take a moment to focus your mind on something you feel grateful for, no matter how small.
Take 5 for Self-Compassion – Speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend. Acknowledge your own difficulties and stressful situations as you would for a friend, with kindness and compassion.
Walk Mindfully – Anytime you are walking down the hall; rather than thinking about the place you are going to let your attention focus on the journey there. Feel the floor beneath you and the air on your arms and face. Breathe. Be present.
Live Your Values – Take a few minutes to recall your core values and actively integrate them into your work.
Connect with Nature – If you can, take a walk for a few minutes outside. If you can’t, take a nature walk indoors by watering a plant, or gazing out a window. Consider putting a nature video on your phone.
Inhale Calm – Tuck an essential oil inhaler in your pocket so you can breathe in a relaxing, refreshing scent when you are feeling overwhelmed. Lavender, rosemary, and citrus are helpful during stressful times.
Stretch – Get your blood moving and endorphins pumping by bending over to touch your toes, slowly stretching your arms above your head and rolling your ankles in small circles. Stretch out tense neck muscles by gently dropping your chin to your chest and rolling your head from side to side.
Laugh – A sense of humor can boost resilience and get you through the tough days. When appropriate, find ways to laugh with a colleague, watch a funny video on your phone, or recall the last time you had a deep belly laugh.
By making conscious choices to use some of these simple ways to manage stress, you can be better equipped to turn your stress and challenges into opportunities. When it comes to handling stress, start with yourself: you are your own most effective, powerful resource.