Stress is a real threat that is waging war on employee’s mental health with a slew of side effects such as lower productivity, increased absenteeism, and lower focus and engagement. According to The American Institute of Stress, 83% of workers in the United States deal with work-related stress. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now considers stress a hazard of the workplace costing $190 billion annually in healthcare bills.
What is the solution?
Many companies are beginning to offer wellness programs in addition to health insurance that promotes mental wellness. There are also things employees can do to take a proactive approach to manage stress throughout the workday. Below is a list of 5 tangible ways for employees to de-stress.
- Breathing Exercises – There are a variety of breathing techniques that effectively calm your nervous system and alleviate stress. These can even be done at your desk and are a great way to manage anxiety prior to a meeting or presentation. Try the pursed-lip technique. Sit down, relax your shoulders, and breath in normal for 2 counts. Then, purse your lips and exhale for 4 counts. Repeat until you feel calm.
- Desk Meditation – As little as 3 minutes of meditation can drastically lower stress levels. A meditation you can do anywhere, including at work, is a body scan meditation. To do this, sit in your chair with your feet planted on the floor. Focus your attention on your breathing and allow yourself to breathe normally. Slowly, begin to scan your body from your head all the way down to the soles of your feet. Simply acknowledge any sensations, areas of tension, discomfort, or lack of sensation. No need to do anything other than to bring your awareness to your body. This simple meditation can help lower stress, increase focus, and leave you feeling re-energized.
- Exercise – We all know that exercise is an important part of staying healthy, but it is also a proven stress reducer. Exercising in the morning before work will help you get off to a good start and feel energized throughout the workday. The endorphin rush will help you manage the stress of hectic mornings. Start by setting your alarm clock 10-15 minutes early and gradually increase it from there. Make it easier to stick to it and form a habit by going to bed in workout clothes and keeping sneakers next to your bed. Going for walks throughout the day is also a great way to de-stress.
- Get Outside – It’s amazing what a few minutes of fresh air and sunshine can do for your mental health. If you can, step outside during your lunch break. Suggest having a walking meeting instead of sitting at a desk indoors. Just being outdoors has a calming effect on the body and is an instant de-stressor.
- Build Relationships – Those that have built friendships with co-workers tend to be happier and less stressed at work. Join an organization at work or a mentorship program. Ask a co-worker if they’d like to join you for lunch. Suggest a team retreat or an interactive event that will give employees an opportunity to get together outside of the workplace to build relationships.
You may not be able to control all of the stressful situations you will face throughout your workday, but you can control how you react to them. Implementing the suggestions above will empower you to better manage your stress. Try them all and see what works best for you. Do them consistently to build the habit and reap long-term results.
take the next step on your journey to more joy.