This Thursday is ‘bring a dog to work day’. It’s a real positive for the workplace as many studies show that pets can reduce stress and even improve mental performance as the owner is more relaxed. So much so that a couple of universities have introduced ‘puppy rooms’ where students can de-stress before exams!
And with a dog at work there’s a real incentive to get outside for a lunchtime walk which clears the head for a productive afternoon’s work as well as getting a few more steps under our belt.
But what other tricks can help to reduce stress levels at work? Here’s a few I’ve advocated before – all common sense but it’s surprising how few of us really take them on board….
1. Look after yourself!
It is easier to manage stress when we feel healthy. Taking care to eat well, get sufficient sleep and have just a little exercise can make us feel better able to cope.
2. Find time to mentally relax and unwind
It may seem difficult to find the time but short breathing and relaxation exercises or meditations can help you to think more clearly so that you don’t keep rushing from one problem to the next.
3. Write down all the jobs you need to do
Then you don’t need to waste your attention and energy on trying to remember everything – and you won’t forget.
4. Prioritise your tasks
…and deal with the most difficult ones first. That way, the day will get better as you go along and you won’t be distracted by the thought of more difficult jobs to come. If it is really clear that you have too many jobs to complete in one day then share that information with your manager – that way there are no nasty surprises and you may find that some of the priorities become clearer.
5. Don’t judge or criticise yourself
We can easily get into the habit of judging our own actions and abilities much more harshly than we judge others and that can add to our stress levels. Remember, you’re a pretty awesome human who is holding together a life and a job, and often helping others with their problems and stresses at work or outside. Be gentle with yourself rather than adding to your burden.Ask yourself whether everything you think you need to do today will still be important in 6 months time, or a year, or 5 years.
6. Make a note of the good things you do and the problems you solve
When you’re stressed, you tend to focus on the things you haven’t yet been able to do yet. Your mind needs the positive balance to work effectively.
7. Ask for help
Don’t think you have to do everything yourself.
8. Live your life.
It is all too easy to let your stresses and worries stop you from doing things that you enjoy. Don’t let that happen. Make time to speak to friends and family, to read a book, stroke your pets, go out for a walk or any of the things that make you feel good. That time and those feelings will help to keep any problems in perspective