From overflowing inboxes and competitive coworkers to never-ending days, stress at work is no joke. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association's Stress in America survey, 75 percent of respondents reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress in the past month, and women reported higher stress levels than men.
But stress caused by work doesn't just stay at work. It can affect all areas of your life, including your health. Long-term chronic stress can even increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, and inflammation. While it's impossible to completely eliminate stress at work, you can learn to cope with it when it strikes. But if your mellow playlist or cup of tea isn't calming your nerves, try these five super simple ways to deal with day-to-day work stresses.
Take a Walk Outside
One of the best ways to de-stress is to take a walk. Not only will it get you up and out of your chair to give your eyes a break from the computer screen, researchers have found that just being in or viewing green space can reduce stress. Other studies have found that spending time in nature may help improve mood and mental health.
There's a reason that adult coloring books are all the rage. Coloring can be therapeutic and relaxing. Research found that coloring a mandala (a geometric pattern) for 20 minutes decreased anxiety. By concentrating on the specific task of coloring, your brain can focus on the present moment and switch off other thoughts, which is similar to meditation. Stash a coloring book in your desk drawer for when times are tough.
Sounds simple right? The truth is that breathing can help bring your stress level down a few notches. Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system—your body's rest and digest response—and will automatically help calm you down. Take a few moments to focus on your breathing. This can be as simple as inhaling deeply to the count of four, exhaling fully to a count of four, and repeating.
Strike a Power Pose
One of the biggest sources of stress at work are presentations and important meetings. For many of us, just thinking about these events can cause a cold sweat or racing heartbeat. Next time, try power posing. Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, has found that assuming an open and expansive posture can change your hormone levels, decrease cortisol levels, and make you feel more confident.
Sitting at a desk and staring at a computer isn't doing any favors for your lower back, hips, neck, or shoulders. Taking a quick yoga break during the day is a great way to cope with workplace stress. Not only will it reboot your body, but it will also refresh your mind. Try some simple stretches to open your chest, shoulders, and hips.
Build in frequent breaks during your workday for these stress-reducing techniques. While results may vary from person to person, you'll be surprised at how simple movements and exercises can help you manage stress at work.