Find Wellness at Work Through Stress Management

May is Mental Health Month, making it the ideal time to implement additional self-care into our professional routines. Employees who work a traditional 40-hour week spend 2,080 hours each year on the job. Taking steps to manage workplace stress can help ensure that this time doesn’t take a toll on your health and make your professional life easier.

Here are a few straightforward steps you can take to manage stress and anxiety at work.

Schedule Your Day—Including Breaks

When planning your day, consider dedicating time to both responding to emails and working on long-term projects. It’s also beneficial to make time for breaks throughout the day to let your mind rest. Research suggests that short ‘micro-breaks’ can reduce feelings of fatigue without hurting performance and may even boost productivity in the long run. You can use this time to walk, stretch or do breathing exercises.

Understand Your Priorities

If your to-do list feels overwhelming, check in with your manager on the priorities and expectations for your role. This will help you know what to focus on when creating your task list. You may even be able to take a few things off the list if they don’t align with your office’s goals.

Minimize Disruptions

Disruptions make it easy to become distracted from a task you’re trying to complete. Though you can’t always control what’s interrupting you, you can plan for whether you’ll accept it or cut it off. Create criteria for which response you make for each interruption, so you’ll know how to act when they occur.

Additional steps you can take include pairing back phone and computer notifications, answering emails during certain times of the day and finding a quiet space with a closed door when you need to focus.

Focus On Your Health

Sleeping well and eating right are two steps you can take to feel your best, whether you’re on or off the clock. Researchers at Harvard University found that a healthy diet and mindful eating can provide extra energy to help deal with stress. Additionally, getting proper sleep each night will help you feel energized as you take on the tasks of your day.

Do Breathing Exercises

If you’ve just left a stressful meeting, a few minutes of deep breathing will help you release tension. Inhale for five seconds and hold and exhale for equal amounts.

Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation releases feelings of stress by tensing and relaxing your muscles. Sitting in a quiet place, close your eyes and tense the muscles in your toes for five minutes before releasing them. Repeat this process with your feet, calves and the rest of your body until you reach your forehead.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this practice can result in lower blood pressure and reduced activity of stress hormones.

Cross Something Small Off Your To-do List

Even if it’s something little, completing a chore will bring you a sense of relief. Similarly, if there is a task you’ve been dreading, putting it off will only prolong stress. Tackling the chore sooner can ease tension.

Take Steps To Care for Yourself

Managing workplace stress will do more than just make your day better. Chronic stress can result in health problems like anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure, heart disease and insomnia. During Mental Health Month and beyond, consider what you can do to minimize the worries you feel in the workplace.

For more information about workplace wellness and professional development, visit Fuel’s resource library.

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