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Keeping your work day running smoothly can sometimes prove to be quite a challenge, right? Some days, you think you have it all under control and then the smallest thing send everything completely off track - including your stress levels!
And, it’s not uncommon. Studies show that in 2017/18 work related stress, depression and anxiety accounted for 44% of work related ill health and 57% of working days lost.
Here’s the thing…
Stress at work is something that most of us will experience during our careers and it might feel unavoidable. Yes, it’s true that we can’t change others; difficult colleagues or a demanding superior. But, thankfully, we can choose how we react to them and at least then we can learn to keep our stress levels within healthy boundaries.
Ready to find out more?
I’ve been a full time business owner for the last 15 years, which involves juggling so many balls, I’ve lost count. Before this, I worked in both financial and retail environments. So, I’ve seen and experienced stress from a few different angles. With that in mind I’ve created a list of tips that help you mindfully manage stress at work, no matter what environment you’re working in...
MINDFULLY START YOUR DAY
Mindfully preparing for the day ahead can strengthen our mindset and positivity. Creating a morning routine is a great way to do this. It can be as simple as you’d like. Taking time to rehydrate, nourish your body and exercise are all welcomed by your mind and body. I’m not suggesting a vision of perfection here - just a few simple things like; a large glass of water, healthy breakfast and getting a few extra steps in by parking a little further away from your building. It all makes a difference and helps us feel ready to face the day - no matter what it brings! Here are a few more tips on creating a morning routine.
CREATE REGULAR CHECK POINTS
It’s easy to rush from one task to another on auto pilot and then wonder why you feel so overwhelmed by lunchtime! This can be avoided with regular check points throughout your day to see how you’re feeling. If you’re thinking that you don’t have time for that, then hear me out. Taking a minute to pause and acknowledge how you feel, helps you to tackle the emotions in the moment rather than letting them escalate or even worse - taking them home and making someone else suffer for the terrible day that you’ve had!
Aim for at least two checkpoints in your day, morning and afternoon.
You don’t even need to leave your desk to practise mindful breathing - but please do if you can. Sit comfortably and focus on the feeling of your breath moving in and out of your body. Resist the urge to control it, just experience it coming and going naturally. Let thoughts, emotions and sounds arise around you, let them pass by like clouds while you stay present with your breath. Practising this for just a couple of minutes can help restore balance and leave you feeling in control and much happier.
LEARN TO RECOGNISE THE SIGNS
As we know, stress in the workplace is common. So much, that you could easily miss the early signs of stress, or see them as a normal part of your day. Listening to your body is essential when it comes to tackling stress at work. Learn to recognise the signs and you can tackle before it escalates and creates ill health - both physically and mentally. Look out for the most common signs such as an increased heart rate, feeling irritable or anxious and experiences regular headaches. Once you’ve recognised one of the symptoms try and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible - a bathroom break is the perfect excuse - and practice mindful breathing as detailed above. It’s simple but it can make all the difference and help you return to the situation with more balance and perspective.
CREATE A 'CLOSE DOWN' RITUAL
How often do you take your work mood home with you? Yes, we’ve all been there! But, do you really want to make your loved ones suffer because you’ve taken your stress and frustration home? It took me years to understand that I could change this by creating a ‘close down’ ritual at the end of my day. Mine has changed over the years but today it involves taking a few deep breaths before reviewing the day and looking over the most important things that I have to do tomorrow. With the day, tidied away I then take a few minutes to meditate and visualise what I need from my evening. It takes no more than 20 minutes and makes a world of difference - I encourage you to try it.
DEVELOP CLEAR BOUNDARIES
With technology keeping us forever connected too many of us take work home. This might be ok once in a while but no one likes to feel like they’re never off the clock! Developing clear boundaries really helps and it manages everyone's expectations. If you’re available after work then be clear when those hours are so that it doesn’t conflict with family time or your own self care. Be sure to stick to the boundaries that you set so as to reduce confusion and create healthy habits.
Stress has such a damaging effect on your health and so I hope that you’ve found something here that inspires you to take control of the amount of stress you feel during your workday. Don’t be worried about starting small because I think that baby steps are the best way to create lasting change in any area of our lives. The most important part is getting started. So how will you start to mindfully manage your stress levels today?
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.