Cari’s Top 10 Tips For Reducing Stress at Work
1. Start the night before by getting enough sleep. Most people put their jobs, their families and other obligations first. But, the truth is that if you aren’t well rested – you won’t be able to fully devote yourself to other people and obligations. Aim for at least 8 hours a night. Turn the tv off and start to wind down an hour earlier tonight and see how you feel tomorrow.
2. Make sure you start your day with breakfast – even if it’s at your desk. When you eat breakfast it will jumpstart your metabolism and give you more energy throughout the day. When you don’t eat enough or skip breakfast, it causes your blood sugar to be low and it will make you feel sluggish and sometimes more stressed.
3.Â Take a break every 1-2 hours and use that time just for you. Do some breathing exercises, stretch or go walk around. Taking time out of your day for yourself will give you a sense of control, will help you de-stress and it’s good for your mind and body.
4. Avoid the vending machines and office “goodies” in the break-room. If you snack on junk all day, that’s just going to stress your body. Instead, pack your lunch and snacks each day and make sure you are eating something healthy every 2-3 hours. Eating 3 meals a day is very “old school” and only slows your metabolism. If your stomach is growling in the afternoon – eat! Don’t wait until you get home and have dinner or you will just overeat. Good office snacks include: lowfat string cheese, fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, lowfat greek yogurt, wheat crackers with natural nut butter, whey protein (look for a low-cal/low-fat brand) and unsalted almonds.
5. Limit your caffeine to 1 cup of coffee a day. If you feel sluggish in the afternoon – don’t grab another cup of joe or soda – instead eat a healthy snack. If you overdo it on the caffeine (and sugar) you will just set yourself up for a crash later. Also, sodas are horrible for you – even diet ones. They cause bloating, erode your teeth and “trick” your body into thinking it’s consuming sugar. If you have to drink something bubbly – try LaCroix water (natural and zero calories), Crystal Light or just bring your own water flavored with berries or cucumber. Dehydration can also cause you to feel tired and sluggish – so make sure you are drinking water at your desk throughout the day.
6. If your office environment is noisy, stressful and loud – try noise canceling headphones or listening to soothing music. Also, get a plant! Studies have shown that people that have plants in their office or on their desk have less stress.
Also, you could place a couple of photos on your desk of your favorite vacation destination or a place you’ve always wanted to visit. This will give you motivation and remind you why you are working so hard!
7. Make sure you workout at least 3-5 times a week. Working out is the best stress reliever possible and increases your endorphins, helps to create a lean body mass (aka helps you look good!) and keeps your mind and body strong. Most people say they don’t have time and have way too many excuses for not fitting it in. You have to learn to put yourself first – not your job! You only get one body – so work it out and keep it healthy! You have less conflicts and excuses in the morning – so just go to bed a little earlier and set your alarm 30min early. Even a 20-30min workout 5 days a week will be beneficial! Not sure what to do? Check out some of my free sample workouts over to the right —>
8. Map out your day and include work and personal time. Start your day at your desk with a few deep breaths and then spend a few minutes planning out your priorities. Put all your “to do” items into 3 categories- high, medium and low priority and try to tackle the most important ones first. But, be realistic. Don’t completely fill up your day with tasks that you won’t be able to get done or you will feel like a failure at the end of the day. Instead, focus on a few that you know you can complete so that at the end of the day you have a sense of accomplishment.
9. Try yoga. You can do some simple yoga poses and breathing exercises at your desk or go outside on your lunch break and practice there. Also, taking a couple classes a week will help you relieve tension in your neck and help with your flexibility. If you don’t want to take a class, try a beginner dvd or look for videos online – there are a lot of good free resources.
10. Try to leave office stress at the office, even if that’s your home office. Set a goal to “unplug” from your work a few hours a day maybe on your lunch break or as soon as you get home. I know many people that have 2 cell phones – 1 for personal and 1 for work, so they can turn it off when they are home. Setting limits and boundaries will help you stay in control and will allow you to focus on other things like yourself, friends, family and hobbies that will make you happy.