Numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the most prominent type of stress for American adults and that it has escalated exponentially over the past few decades. In fact, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42% say their coworkers need such help.
So, are we doomed to a life full of stress trying to “punch the clock”, or can we find ways to find our zen in the workplace?
Why it matters:
Stress can hurt. 62% of people routinely find that they end the day with work-related neck pain, 44% reported strained eyes, 38% complained of pain in their hands and 34% reported difficulty sleeping because they were too stressed out. This is undoubtedly a destructive emotion that can lead to multiple health issues and, ultimately, burnout.
If you’re like the many American adults experiencing the side effects of job stress, you’re probably looking for a solution to this ongoing problem.
Here’s how you can combat stress in the workplace:
Be mindful of mindfulness.
There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness, especially in the workplace. Scientifically, mindfulness practice reduces activity in the amygdala. The amygdala is central to switching on your stress response, so effectively, your background level of stress is reduced.
Along with the reduction of stress, mindfulness makes you more aware of your emotions, thoughts, and the emotions of others, which is sometimes essential to prevent harsh, impulsive words to your coworkers, because what’s more stressful than causing an already tough situation to be more stressful via knee-jerk reactions to conflict?
Don’t sweat it, do sweat it out.
Exercise produces endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Group exercise can even DOUBLE the amount of endorphins your body releases in comparison to working out alone, according to a recent study in Biology Letters. This can be attributed to the sheer amount of fun associated with group training. The more people, the more laughs, the more motivation, the more endorphins, the less amount of stress.
Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music can be beneficial for our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.
If you have co-workers around you, be mindful and pop on some headphones to start your jam sesh. If you are a remote employee, feel free to turn on your favorite song, dance it out a bit, and maybe even do your best American Idol impression and belt it out!
When in doubt, laugh it out.
Laughter has many short-term benefits that can lead to the reduction of stress. It stimulates organs by increasing air intake, activates and relieves stress responses leaving you feeling relaxed, and soothes tension via muscle relaxation. Humor can be hard to find in the most serious of situations, however, keeping topics as light-hearted as possible in the workplace can relieve stress for all parties involved. Who knows? You might even win the Company Comedian title at the end of the year superlative banquet.
In 2012, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey. Which means more than half of the workforce is susceptible to health issues caused by stress. Managing stress for yourself as well as your coworkers is essential to your work satisfaction, so practice mindfulness, sweat it out, move your feet to some tunes, or practice your best water cooler jokes.