6 Useful Ways to Quickly Decrease Workplace Stress

On Stress Awareness Day, it's more important than ever that we prioritise our mental wellbeing and find ways to combat long-term stress in the workplace.

Yugi the Giraffe - 4 November 2020

Stress is more prevalent than ever in the workplace

Stress has always been a common aspect of working life in adults - even if you’re in a job that you love, you’re bound to encounter stress when working on big projects or meeting deadlines.

With the workplace rapidly changing (beyond recognition for some) and a challenging job market meaning that more employees are working harder to keep their jobs, stress has become the norm and many are reaching the point of burnout.

What are the common causes of workplace stress?

Here are some reasons you may be feeling stressed at work:

  1. Unmanageable workload - Trying to juggle multiple deadlines and difficult tasks can make work feel stressful and overwhelming.
  2. Poor relationships with co-workers - disagreements, harassment and bullying can foster feelings of dread and anxiety when it comes to working.
  3. Job uncertainty - Feeling like your job is under threat and being uncertain of the future can cause stress levels to spike.
  4. Physical working conditions - Working in an uncomfortable environment will make it hard to focus and raise stress levels.
  5. Lack of support in your role - You may feel like you don’t get the help you need when you’re struggling, which can add to existing stress.

YuLife's Chief Wellbeing Officer, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, says in The 4 Pillar Plan that stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as “an onrush of stress primes our bodies and minds to tackle a sudden problem head-on.” But, long-term stress as experienced with continued workplace stressors can lead to long term medical issues.

In Shamash Alidina’s Relaxation for Dummies, he outlines some of the symptoms of excessive and long-term stress, including headaches, fatigue, stomach problems, trouble sleeping and a lack of focus. There are, however, plenty of ways to combat stress in the workplace. Read on to find out how you can take control of and manage your stress levels at work.

Keep a Journal

Writing things down can be useful for a myriad of reasons when managing stress. Take a note of both triggers and symptoms when you begin to feel like your stress is unmanageable, as it can help you to recognise patterns and nip them in the bud before they become overwhelming. Dr Chatterjee also recommends taking a few moments each night before bed to write down what you’re grateful for, which can help to refocus your priorities, redirect stressful thought patterns and enable more peaceful sleep.

Control Your Breathing

Controlling your breathing is a quick and easy way to manage stress and anxiety. According to Headspace, “many people have unintentionally become shallow breathers, which is where you inhale through the mouth, hold the breath, and take in less air...which can actually keep the body in a cycle of stress.”

Try Dr Chatterjee’s 3-4-5 breathing technique for a few minutes a day and you’ll soon see long-term benefits. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold it for 4 and breathe out for 5. Whenever your out-breath is longer than your in-breath, it switches off the stress receptors and promotes relaxation.

YuLife's Chief Wellbeing Officer, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee walks us through a 'Mind Health Snack' to help reduce levels of stress and anxiety. And it only take 5-minutes out of your day! Watch the video below.

Try Meditating for a Few Minutes a Day

Meditation is also a widely known relaxation method. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t about sitting cross-legged and chanting ‘om’ in order to combat stress; Dr Chatterjee found that spending 10 minutes a day to switch off and be present, whether that’s by listening to music in a dark room or doing tai-chi, can lessen your stress levels.

Now, with mindfulness apps that guide you through meditation sessions, it’s never been so easy to take control of stress. They’re also becoming increasingly popular, as a recent survey conducted by YuLife and YouGov found that there has been a 28% increase in people purchasing or downloading wellness apps over the last few months.

With the YuLife app, you can earn YuCoin for meditation challenges that can be redeemed through our fantastic rewards partners, simply by linking your account with either Headspace or Calm. Click here to learn more.

Start Walking

Cortisol, the stress hormone, activates a fight or flight response in the body that is designed to be short-term. Dealing with large amounts of stress day in day out can cause increased levels of cortisol and constantly put us in an “emergency response” mode. The Mayo Clinic found that having a physical outlet for stress is a great way to imitate these conditions and “help your body and its systems practice working together through those effects.”

Any exercise can help us to deal more effectively with stress, but walking is a great place to start - especially since it’s low impact and can give you a real endorphin boost. Whether you’ve just started strolling or you’re a walking wonder, YuLife rewards you for doing step challenges in the app that are designed for all skill levels.

Set Clear Boundaries for a Work-Life Balance

With remote working becoming the norm, a lot of workplaces are seeing a sharp rise in “presenteeism” - with easy access to emails and no commute, people are working much longer hours. This can take a real toll on our mental health, as we don’t make time for loved ones and things we enjoy.

In order to avoid this, why not try setting calendar reminders to log off? Make a rule not to check your emails in the evening, remove work apps and communications from your personal phone, and take some time away from your screen after you’ve finished for the day.

As an employer, encourage open communication and set expectations for team members to log off at certain times - even if your working patterns are different and you like to send emails and messages late at night, ensure your employees don’t feel pressured to reply outside of working hours.

Speak with Someone Who can Help

If you’re frequently finding it difficult to manage your workload or any other issues arise, speak to your manager or superior (if you’re comfortable), as they can help you to prioritise your workload and deal with any situations.

Your mental health can be severely affected by stress. YuLife’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can help you to manage your mental health if your stress is consistently unmanageable by giving you access to digital and phone-based counselling from experts.

Learn more about how you can support your employees with YuLife by getting in contact here.

Yugi the Giraffe

Yugi is our YuLife mascot. Like all giraffes they've got a big heart – in fact the biggest heart of all land animals.