How to Relieve Stress at Work


Stress is the tension caused by not being in control of a situation. Control means that you have all the right physical and emotional tools needed to achieve the desired result in a given situation. It doesn’t mean that you have to control every situation, because that itself can cause stress to both yourself and those around you.

There are many causes of stress -physical, emotional and behavioural -but the feelings of anxiety remain the same. They can manifest themselves physically, with unexplained illnesses and ailments, or emotionally, with symptoms of bad concentration, low energy and a general feeling of being ‘down’. The only way to alleviate stress is to take a long look at the cause and make any necessary changes in your job, situation or lifestyle. Life is too short for you to be unhappy.

I believe that deep down inside we all know the truth about any situation. We may not wish to confront the truth, but until we do, it will always be lurking in the background waiting to come out. Always listen to your inner voice if you want to know the way forward.

Environmental cause

You may not think that your environment can make you feel stressed, but sometimes it’s as simple as that. We are all affected differently by light, colour, sounds, smells and the space around us. Any one of these factors can contribute to our feelings of being on edge. If we are not comfortable in our space, it ig unlikely that we will be successful in achieving our goals. Our inability to accomplish what we set out to do leads to feelings of inadequacy, which inevitably leads to stress.

We can usually cope with physical conditions quite easily. Take a good look around your work space and see how it feels. Do the colours stimulate you or make you feel depressed? Ask if you can change the colour of the walls and go for something that will enhance your level of vitality and creativity. If painting the walls is not possible, use colourful accessories in your office. Bring in some art to hang on the wall or put flowers on your desk. Bright cushions on your chair can also add a bit of life to a depressing space and make the tension disappear.

Sunlight and artificial lights can also have a dramatic impact on our feelings of wellbeing. If you have the chance to switch offices to one with more natural light, go for it. If that is not possible, go out and get a great lamp with warm tones to focus your attention on the work at hand. There are bulbs that offer a more natural light – try to find one of these for the office and use it every day. Good light helps you to accomplish your tasks and will reduce eye strain and headaches.

Tension can also come from being physically uncomfortable. Perhaps you get headaches or have back pain from sitting in a chair that does not give you adequate support. Again, rectify this by asking for a better chair that will support your back and keep you pain-free. If you’re feeling great then you can only be more productive.

Make sure that the temperature of your workplace is not causing you to feel ill at ease. Dress according to the usual temperature of the office -remember that in air-conditioned buildings it will remain cool inside even if it is baking outside.

Calm and collected

Deep breathing can calm you in minutes. If the air you breathe is stuffy or smoke-filled it can leave you feeling low on energy. Potted plants will help by adding oxygen to the air.

Essential oils can fill the room with therapeutic benefits to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Try basil or lemon to focus the mind, bergamot for calm and ylang-ylang to reduce anger. You may also feel claustrophobic if you spend too much in confined spaces. Practise your breathing often or leave the office for 20 minutes to gain a different perspective.

Once you’ve addressed the physical and emotional problems, you have taken the first step towards reducing tension and being happy in your workplace. If you really feel the problems are physical and can’t be sorted, at least you have realised what you need in a work environment to enjoy your job and be happy. If they are not achievable in your current job, perhaps it’s time to start searching for a new job in a space that is more conducive to your wellbeing.

Achieving goals

In order to achieve your goals you first need to decide whether they are all realistic. If you know that you have truly done the best that you can do and you are still unable to achieve your goal, then perhaps you have been unrealistic in your expectations. Give yourself a break. Rome, as we all know, was not built in a day. It was a step-by-step process involving many individuals.

Break down the bigger goals into steps and take it one step at a time. Write them down: they seem more important that way. Never be afraid to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness. It shows an eagerness to grow and most often can be the first step in making things better. You must always want to make things better!

All the other stuff

In order to feel good about ourselves on the job, most of us need to think that we will accomplish what we set out to do, when we say we’ll do it, and that once it’s done it will be appreciated by others. We become stressed when any of these are difficult to achieve.

Filed Under: Work & Careers

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About the Author: Vanessa Page works a career counselor in one of the leading firms in Los Angeles. She is also a blogger and gives tips on how people can tackle their work and career issues. She has 8 years of experience in this field.

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