10 Ways To Lower Your Work Stress Levels

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(forbes.com article)
More than 60% of workers say they feel stressed on three or more workdays per week, on average, according to a recent survey from payroll company Paychex. Seventy-three percent rated their stress levels at a three or higher on a scale of one to five, and more than half said that stressing over things less would help them feel happier.

What’s causing the stress? More than 80% of respondents said they’re stressed at work because they’re missing out on time at home, the survey found. Another 52% said they work overtime, and 47% said they work on non-required weekends. Other complaints run the gamut, from complicated work to long hours to tough deadlines.

What’s the answer to all the work stress? Here are suggestions from both experts and workers who have lowered their own stress levels:

Crank up the music.

“When projects start to pile up and I panic about which one to start first, I take a break and open up Spotify,” says Megan Frisina, 26, who lives in Cleveland, OH. “I put my headphones on and listen to a song or two while sipping some coffee or tea and avoid my computer screen. Then I’m ready to start.”

Find your inner Buddha.

“Practicing mindfulness is a great way to help relieve stress,” says Maura Thomas, founder of RegainYourTime.com and author of Personal Productivity Secrets. “Buddhify is my favorite mindfulness app. The benefits of mindfulness meditation practices include improved decision making, relationships and creativity. Adding more moments of stillness to your day helps you feel calmer, more energized and less distracted.”

Take lunch.

When’s the last time you ate lunch away from your desk? “Lunch means more than fueling ourselves for the rest of our hectic afternoon,” says Jacqueline Lewis, founder of the World Gratitude Map. “Done right, it can be a microcosm of our ideal day, a deliberate mix of pleasure, sustenance, engagement and rest.”

Enforce some boundaries.

It’s easy to let work infringe on your personal time with email and constant digital check-ins. If you can, make a rule that you won’t check work email from home after 8 p.m. or that you won’t answer your work phone during dinner with your family, recommends the American Psychological Association.

Break for a hobby.

“When I get stressed during the day, I play piano,” says Gene Caballero, co-founder of lawn care site GreenPal. “Playing any instrument has been scientifically proven to engage every area of the brain at once, so it gets my mental capacity going again and helps me through my afternoon. It’s like a mental full-body workout.”

Get moving.

“I started learning Tai Chi about 12 years ago and have gotten progressively addicted over the years,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn, 51, who lives in Cambridge, MA. “It is a way to both relax and focus. You can do it anywhere and it requires no equipment at all. I have met some great people, it has helped my balance, improved my bone density and helped calm my mind. I just love it.”

Think of the good things.

“Make a daily gratitude list by writing down 10 things you are grateful for,” says Kimberly Hershenson, a therapist in New York City. “Focusing on what is good in your life as opposed to ‘what is going wrong with your job’ helps relieve anxiety around work.”

Breathe.

“Deep breathing is the most powerful exercise you can integrate daily into your workday,” says Michael Tamez, a lifestyle coach and wellness blogger. “The added benefits of deep breathing are that it allows you to inhale peace and tranquility and exhale stress and anxiety.”

Take your vacation.

U.S. employees are letting an average of four vacation days sit unused each year, but mental breaks are important for your sanity. Make a point of using all of your vacation time and try, as much as possible, to disconnect from work when you’re away.

Reframe your stressors.

Sometimes it’s all in how you think about it. Instead of focusing on the negatives, think of your stressors as “Let’s see what I can take on today,” suggests Srini Pillay, M.D., CEO of the NeuroBusiness Group and author of Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind. “You decrease your brand anxiety center activation and increase activation of the thinking brain.”

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