Let’s say you love your job. Dang you’re lucky! Let’s say you like your job. Well done. Ok, let’s say you hate your job and can’t wait to clock out. Looks like you need a new job, but I digress. What so all 3 of these have in common? Stress. Yup. Even if you love your gig, there will be times when you’re stressed out and wondering if you made the right decision.
No matter how you feel about your job, here are 10 ways to ease your stress levels and make your work a better place to be.
1. Do Meaningful Work
I don’t mean you have to save all the trees, manatees or homeless budgies (although I’m pro all those things) - you just need to do work that is meaningful to you. The more connected you feel to your work, the more it aligns with your values the more you will be energized, and not stressed by it. Having a sense of meaning makes employees happier and happier employees are just less stressed.
If you’re struggling to find meaning in your day-to-day work, try taking some time to ask yourself “Other than to pay the rent, why am I working so hard?,” “What is this work’s purpose?” There should be at least a minimum of meaning there. If you absolutely cannot come up with a single bit of meaning - it might be time for some career change.
2. Follow Your Path
I’m not talking ‘Follow Your Bliss’ style here, I’m talking career path. If you are reaching your career goals by following the path you designed, you will feel fulfilled, make better decisions and be less stressed.
3. Find a Buddy
Work wife, desk husband, cubie bestie. Whatever you call it. Find one. According to the Harvard Business Review, work friends make us more productive and generally more happy and less stressed. Even if it’s a colleague that you have a good rapport with and only occasionally have lunch with, personal connections on the job are good for your morale.
4. Make it Personal
Your space that is. You want to feel comfortable, at ease and just short of ‘at home.’ Plants, personal pics, a cozy wrap thrown over the back of your chair, a customized screensaver, or a hand drawn pic from your weird little niece… decorate your space and make it feel like you.
5. Don’t Be a Dick
This should go without saying, but if you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you and help you when you need it. Seriously, say ‘Please’ and 'Thank You' and mean it. Be grateful when others help you out, smile genuinely, say ‘hi’ to the temp receptionist and not only will you actually be happier and less stressed out, but you’ll be contributing to a kinder workplace, which makes everyone less stressed out… it’s a very non-vicious cycle.
6. Take a Break
From a particular task. From your desk. From the account guy who drives you bonkers. A cleared out head allows you to view problems with fresh grey matter. This goes for a 5 minute walk to the supply cabinet all the way to a full 2 week vacation. The ability to take a step back, breathe, refresh and revived - relieves stress, allows you to be more productive and creative.
AKA: Don’t Eat Junk, Drink Water & Get Off Your Butt. For some reason, for a lot of people see ‘work’ and ‘life’ as having different rules. You spend an inordinate amount of your ‘life’ at ‘work’ so it stands to reason that if you wouldn’t pound a handful of jellybeans, a chocolate donut and a double espresso for breakfast at home, than you shouldn’t at the office - even if it is free in the breakroom.
The better you eat, the more hydrated you are and the more you move - the better you’ll feel. The better you feel, the better mood you’ll be in and the less things will amp you up and stress you out.
8. Get Organized, Systematized and Automated
You know what’s stressful? Digging through pages of emails for that one little thing your boss wants to discuss right now. Organizing your files, systems, documents and processes will reduce unwanted stress by like 827% percent. If there is an email you need to send weekly and you forget till last minute and stress out about it? Find a way to prep, calendar and automate that puppy. Organize your digital files in a way that makes sense and make sure to keep on top of it. Will it take a little time up front, oh yeah, will it keep you from ugly crying in the 3rd bathroom stall, yes indeed.
9. Breathe and Respond…. Later
So back to that account guy who pushes every one of your buttons. He’s always going to be that guy. Always. If you stress out and focus on making him not that guy, you’re in for lots and lots and lots of pointless stress.
Next time he sends out an email that is condescending and uncalled for - do not respond. Immediately anyway. Step away from the moment and, personality differences aside, formulate a non-emotionally charged response that focuses only on the issue at hand. Don’t let him bait you. Just cuz he’s an ass doesn’t mean you need to get on his level.
10. Keep a List Of Wins & Reward Yourself
At the end of each day, week or month take a few moments and write down your wins. They can be tiny or huge. Having a record to go back through will remind you of just how much you’ve accomplished and will give you ammo for your next raise discussion. Keeping a record of successes is an emotional reward in itself, but feel free to physically reward yourself for a job well done. A piece of chocolate for that successful sales call, a spa day for that killer presentation being completed or tickets to your favorite metal band? Whatever will make you feel relaxed and accomplished - go for it.
Incorporate these into your daily worklife and soon enough you’ll be a stress free coolio cucumber. And if you need more than 10, what you really need is a new job. Have a plan for that yet?