Best Stress-Relieving Activities At Work
While it may be common knowledge that work often causes stress, the ways to relieve that stress is less well-known. If you’re currently feeling stressed, anxious, or simply wish to feel a little calmer, carry on reading for plenty of ways you can unwind and relieve stress at work.
Stress naturally occurs in the workplace. When left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on employee health and productivity. In fact, stress has been associated with physical problems like a weakened immune system, stomach aches, high blood pressure, hair loss and headaches. It can also cause problems with concentration and teamwork—and, ultimately productivity.
Office stress is one of the main culprits harming productivity and health at the workplace. What’s even worse is that in today’s work culture, it is virtually inevitable. Most of this truth comes down to the current generation's highly competitive market; survival of the fittest.
Now, though workplace stress is pretty standard these days, it is essential to combat the situation. In doing so, many companies do their best to develop smart stress relief activities and ideas at work. The most common of these would be:
- office meditation techniques,
- breathing techniques,
- yoga in the workplace, etc.
While all these work perfectly well in managing stress, there are still many more options your employees can give a try.
What Is Office Stress?
Let us begin with the very basic definition of stress. A stressful situation is defined as an unpleasant mental or physical condition that occurs to the individual and leads to a substantial loss of control over bodily functions. This could be anything that causes one to experience anxiety, fear, anger, pain, etc.
In addition, while the stress and the accompanying symptoms of heart rate, irritability, lack of focus, and reduced performance on concentration can also be expected when you're under a lot of pressure at work, there are certain factors that could make work-related stress and anxiety even worse.
Office stress is the temporary effect that results in the nervous and emotional state of those who are held accountable to meet deadlines and/or complete important projects on time. In cases, when time and pressure increase, our cortisol levels elevate which leads to anxiety, among other things.
In addition to that, people who suffer from stress can experience elevated blood pressure levels as well. They are also prone to serious health complications such as heart problems, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, difficulty in sleeping, dizziness, depression, anxiety, etc.
How Does It Affect Our Health?
Well, there are several ways stress can affect your health. Whether you are taking the stress from work into your body or making work an important source of your stress, it’s not good news. The stress hormones and low levels of serotonin in your body can result in heart attack, hypertension, and low concentration.
Also, in case you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it could lead to anxiety and depression. But, stress relief at work has its own purpose. It not only strengthens your immune system, helping you live a healthier life but also helps you achieve good health. In fact, people who feel stressed have 50% lower levels of antioxidants in their bodies, which can reduce the risks of heart diseases and cancer.
According to the British Chiropractic Association, people who do exercise regularly see a positive impact on their mental health and sleep. This is because, just like in the rest of life, exercising releases endorphins and dopamine, which makes people feel more relaxed and happier. It also improves muscular and cardiovascular fitness.
The ones who aren’t active on a regular basis don’t benefit as much from these aspects, as it takes a lot of time and energy to be physically fit. Even so, many of them are happy to step up their exercise regimen and reap the benefits. What are some great stress-relieving activities at work? Hiking is a great way to relax while getting outside in the sun. Doing so can be good for one’s overall health.
An estimated half of the population suffers from stress. Unfortunately, stress is a direct cause of heart diseases, which claimed over 700,000 lives in 2012 alone. “Some studies indicate that when people are exposed to stress, the vagus nerve, which runs from the heart down the left arm, sends important signals to the brain.
Research has shown that if these signals are blocked, the brain's immune system is affected, leading to various illnesses. Some studies have also shown that simply changing your posture, breathing techniques or exercise may affect your stress level. How does meditation help? Meditation is essentially any kind of concentration, which is focused on the mental and physical activities of the mind.
What Are The Most Common Work-Related Stressors?
Stress-related problems are a common concern in the modern working age. And one of the biggest stressors that have a significant impact on this age group is health-related problems like diabetes, heart ailments, obesity, and hormonal imbalances. Of these, diabetes is considered a major threat to human life.
It is closely associated with a higher likelihood of coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease, which have a negative impact on mental and physical well-being. Now, mental problems are much more common nowadays than physical problems. And stress is something that most of us deal with, frequently.
Aside from the standard workload and workload strain, there are many factors that cause workplace stress. The three main categories are:
- Interpersonal relationships,
- Time pressure, and
- Money concerns.
By far, the workplace can be one of the more stressful places to be, due to the particular environment and interaction. If there is not an opportunity to resolve any of these factors, then it would be highly recommended to take time off. Many great ideas are put into practice in order to keep oneself, and the company, in good shape.
Regardless of the nature of the employee, stress is often a common issue, and if it’s not managed correctly, it can be detrimental to productivity and health. To that end, almost every stress-relieving activity mentioned above carries a negative impression, which is why it is not uncommon to be wary of its involvement in work practices.
Rather than view stress-relief techniques as irrelevant to the day-to-day work activities, however, it is suggested to take them very seriously and use them in an appropriate manner.
How Can We Combat These Stressors?
It is important to try to find out the root causes of office stress. Unfortunately, to solve the problem at its root, we may have to do more than merely create stress-relieving activities. One must also try to deal with work-life factors, for example, how much time you spend at work vs. at home, how much freedom your job provides you, your workload, how much appreciation and recognition you get, etc.
The lack of self-esteem is a big driver behind excessive stress in the workplace. What’s worse is that often people have very little control over the situation. We tend to succumb to stress easily, which increases the chances of mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.
Get rid of meetings at all costs! Running back and forth between meetings has become a common practice at workplaces across the globe. Even if we try to implement the best meeting strategies, they are almost always implemented during scheduled breaks or informal work meetings that cause more stress.
Employees love meeting and sharing ideas with each other. The only thing that these meetings tend to do is prolong the employee’s stress levels. Not only does this increase their productivity but also negatively affects their health and well-being. One of the best and the easiest ways to deal with this issue is by avoiding all of the meetings and instead, developing a standing schedule for a meeting with your coworkers.
Here’s a holistic solution: incorporate stress reduction in your work environment. Identify the most common stressors of your employees. Remember that stress is inevitable; however, identifying your employees' stress triggers is a great first step. Once you’ve identified these, design a holistic program that will prevent employees from going into a “stress-induced down cycle” (aka anxiety-induced cortisol surge).
That’s why you’ll also want to train your employees on stress management techniques, such as relaxation techniques, Tai Chi, meditation, etc. You might even add “personal wellness” activities as well, such as walking the dog, yoga, exercising, etc. Furthermore, build a “no-recess” policy and reduce the amount of meetings employees have to take.
Tips For Managing Your Stress At Work
While each of these strategies works and have been tested to be the best at bringing down stress, one must exercise caution while implementing them. The first and most effective action is simply taking a break. Taking a quick break from work after an intense task can help reduce stress by helping you regroup. Doing this frequently, over the course of time, can be helpful for the overall well-being. It helps you relax your brain and your body and allows your mind to rest.
Taking regular breaks to help you reset your stress levels is a smart move in stress relief. The key is to take breaks from your work routine gradually. For some people, this may not be possible at all. It would be best to take small breaks to ensure your mind is fresh to work at a full pace.
Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant, which may cause your blood pressure to rise. This can cause stress in some people, which results in exhaustion and chronic fatigue. An alternative, natural caffeine replacement such as coffee and green tea may be effective at reducing your stress and frustration levels. Do not rely on time as your only comfort.
Yet, what about the less productive employees who are at the other extreme? After all, they are employees with even less competitive stress. What’s even worse is that these are often the ones left behind in the workforce. Moreover, these employees are often also the ones who work long hours and overdo the workload.
Learn to meditate – One of the most obvious ways to deal with workplace stress is to start meditating. In fact, the benefits of meditation can be tremendous, not just for managing stress but for your overall well-being. Meditation helps you focus and ease your mind by bringing awareness to your present and past experiences, memories, and emotions.
Try Yoga Or Meditation
Yoga and meditation are proven to be great stress relief activities. But, there are several possible benefits of these activities that need to be considered before opting for a short-term plan. In case you do want to try these activities, you should understand the following points:
Yoga and meditation are commonly linked to regulating the mind and regulating energy. Most people find that Yoga and meditation help them regulate their energy, focus on their present and make way for better performance.
Yoga and meditation don’t require any formal training. The practitioners of these practices usually follow simple techniques and they can practice them at any time and in any place. It is a good idea to incorporate this into your workday.
Get Active With A Quick Walk Around The Office
Work-related stress is just one component of a person’s health and wellness routine. Physical activities play a critical role in achieving health. As it goes with physical fitness, a minimum of 10,000 steps is crucial to staying healthy and fit at the workplace. For those who are looking to track their physical activities and goals, most companies offer opportunities to do so on their wellness programs.
Microsoft and GE Health include healthy habits like monitoring blood pressure, monitoring blood glucose levels and tracking body temperature. Read a book in the office – Reading on your way to work is as important as taking a brisk walk. Your thoughts should turn to be positive, as reading helps you remain positive about the things in your life.
Active spending, being as it is, a stressful activity, is best avoided during peak time in your work. However, just because it is work doesn’t mean you can’t get your heart pumping with a quick walk around the office. A 10-minute brisk walk around the office building can go a long way in relieving stress and stimulating the mind and body.
It’s a great way to work up an appetite as well, so you can then snack on a piece of fruit or a piece of yogurt. Take a break to read a book – Many studies have shown that reading can be therapeutic and can help you process stress in a very natural way. In fact, the National Library and Information Authority in Kenya have recommended reading. The book itself shouldn't be too challenging for a little mind and body break.
Take A Long Lunch Break To Recharge
It is normal for the worker to feel stress throughout the day, especially if he/she has been working a lot or has a demanding job. Yet, after 8 hours of work, having a long lunch break could be the perfect time to relax, take a long nap or do something to burn off some steam.
Of course, when getting away from the workplace, take with you a mug of your favourite hot beverage or a refreshing cold drink so you don’t get dehydrated. Of course, always make sure that your coworkers aren’t in your way to get your long lunch break away.
Be part of team meditation sessions. Taking a few minutes of your lunch break to join the team in a group meditation session or other structured activities like walking meditation, yoga, and guided meditation is an excellent way to relieve your stress at work.
The Importance Of Stress Management
Habits of working long hours, staying over or staying late at the office every day, of staying in isolation and ‘whining’, can adversely affect a person's health. We all know, stress is not something that comes as a natural phenomenon. When it becomes unmanageable, the body starts to show many symptoms including headaches, nausea, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, and so on.
That apart, constant exposure to excessive noise, air pollution, the noise of vehicles on roads, and being stressed to the maximum can lead to serious health-related complications, even if you are not in severe condition. Moreover, along with being stressful, work stress is also a great burden on the nerves, making it so that even a short stay at the office can be a truly unnerving experience for you.
You are reading this blog post in order to ensure that you handle stress from a professional perspective and have adequate time to focus on the important stuff. In short, no matter what your job is, stress management is a process of learning to become aware of stress and counter it in a positive manner.
Thankfully, there are many things you can do to treat your stress level from the aspects of both prevention and execution. Exercise – Physical activity provides you with an instant source of relief. In fact, research has shown that exercise improves your attention, mood, and memory. In simple words, there is no end to how much exercise can improve your health and happiness.
If stress is not managed effectively, it will negatively affect workplace productivity, creative thinking, and mental wellness. Experts contend that a significant number of health problems are linked to stress. And, they include cardiovascular disease, insomnia, ulcers, depression, and anxiety.
When it comes to stress management, breathing exercises will be one of the best stress relief activities at work. According to experts, these are particularly helpful for managing stress. They help to calm the mind by regulating the muscles of the lungs, thereby removing stress from the body.
Stress Management In The Office
Nowadays, many companies implement meditation techniques and breathing techniques in order to help employees de-stress and keep themselves healthier and more productive at work. And as per what a recent survey says, almost 4 out of 5 US workers think it is important for their company to focus on stress relief and wellbeing in the workplace.
Moreover, if we talk about other countries around the world, around 3 out of 5 workers in Spain and Germany as well as 60 percent of Japanese and Singaporean workers think that their company should focus on stress relief activities.
There’s a number of stress management activities that can help boost office workers' concentration, boost morale, and improve their overall productivity. This way, it becomes a win-win situation for both the employer and employee. Some of the most important stress management activities include:
- Checking in on your personal health,
- Managing your time effectively,
- Exercising, and
Whatever it is, our goal is to keep our bodies fit and enhance our performance through an effective workout regimen. It not only helps to keep us healthy but also gives us the stamina to cope with all that we have to deal with at work. It also helps to reduce stress levels for everyone, both employees and employers.
Which Stress Activity Works Best?
In an experiment conducted by Harvard Medical School, a group of participants were assigned to have a few minutes of exercise daily, such as walking or biking. The other group was asked to do nothing during the time. The group that exercised found it was less stressful than their counterparts.
Another study was conducted on various stressors in the workplace. The experiment was aimed at ascertaining whether a group doing crossword puzzles would be able to relieve stress better than a group doing nothing. However, the group doing nothing was able to perform better than the ones who were doing crossword puzzles. This shows that being still with a set of distractions can make people do better in a stressful work environment.
With the decreasing number of hours spent at the office, it is obvious that the level of stress has also dropped. However, there is always a need for better stress management programs to maximize one's productivity at work. There are multiple ways to handle and protect oneself from this phenomenon.
A better stress management program can ensure that workers can stay in control and focus on their tasks instead of struggling under the pressure of excessive and unnecessary stress. In other words, it would not only allow a better functioning environment but would also make workers feel healthier. Overall, a better stress management program will result in a more stress-free environment, more work-life balance, and a happy team of employees.
I trust you enjoyed this article about the Best Stress-Relieving Activities At Work. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly.
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