Stress at work can often feel inescapable. Long hours, strict deadlines and ever-increasing work demands can leave us feeling anxious and stressed. Learning simple relaxation techniques can help improve job satisfaction and performance in the workplace, keeping you focused and energised throughout the day enabling you to meet new challenges and make better decisions.
Regular exercise, a good work/life balance and maintaining a positive mind set can help you avoid the long-term implications of stress. However there may be times when you are faced with a stressful situation and require an immediate solution. Here are some techniques you can use in the workplace the next time you are feeling overwhelmed or on-edge, to help you gain a clear perspective and stop stress from taking control.
1. Visualise your day ahead
Spending time in the morning visualising your day ahead can help organise your thoughts and prepare you mentally for work related scenarios. Visualisation requires you to want something, perceive it and believe in it, creating a clear focus for you to tackle your day ahead.
The mind finds it difficult to distinguish between reality and imagination, therefore by concentrating on positive outcomes and imagining how a meeting or a presentation will go, for example, you can prepare your subconscious to believe that you have already achieved it. Using this mental imagery technique can help achieve success and keep stress at bay before it arises.
2. Find your breath
Paying attention to your breathing is key to calming your body quickly. As soon as you start to focus on slow breathing it produces a natural relaxation response, quieting your mind.
Practice breathing in for a count of 4, holding your breath for a count of 7 and then breathing out for a count of 8. This simple technique has been praised by psychologists as it can help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate by increasing the supply of oxygen to your brain, promoting a state of calmness and providing immediate relief to stress and anxiety.
3. A problem shared is a problem halved
Communication is key within all relationships. Having a colleague at work that you can speak to can make a situation seem less daunting. Studies have shown that discussing problems reduces stress levels, especially when sharing it with someone who is in or has experienced a similar situation.
Another way to ease stress when you may not feel comfortable discussing it with a colleague, is taking a few moments in your lunch break to write down the problem or concern you have and the emotions you are feeling and think of solutions that you would suggest if someone had come to you with this problem.
4. Focus on what you can control
There are many things at work which are beyond our control, particularly the behaviour of other people. Trying to control the uncontrollable or worrying about it will only lead to a build-up of stress and prevent you from making progress.
Instead, challenge yourself to concentrate on the way you respond to what’s happening. Focussing your energy on the way you react and accepting that some factors are outside of your control is where your power is and will make you much more effective.
5. Set realistic goals and resist perfectionism
When you set unrealistic or unattainable expectations for yourself, whether it’s a deadline you’ve set or having to get something right the first time, you’re setting yourself up to fall short. It’s good to have high standards but it’s important to be reasonable with yourself, otherwise you will start to feel that you’re never good enough or that you’re always failing, which is damaging to your self-esteem and wellbeing.
Take a step back and consider the amount of work required and what resources you have available. Learn to prioritise and seek advice from your line manager when you are working at full capacity. Fight the inner critic and any negativity that arises when something doesn’t quite go to plan. Allow yourself to make mistakes, and realise that these are part of the learning process. If you aim to do your best, no one can ask for more than that.
6. Be patient
Finding a relaxation technique that works for you takes time and practice. Don’t give up straight away if you don’t see immediate results, work on it until you find the best solution for you. Becoming more in tune to your body and mind will enable to you identify the signs of stress sooner before it can escalate. Remember that everyone is different and what one person might find effective could be completely different for someone else.
It may be difficult to avoid stress completely, however using these simple techniques will enable you to proactively manage workplace related stress so that it doesn’t negatively impact on your happiness at work and to prevent it from becoming part of your daily job.