Stress is a normal part of most everyone’s lives. In small doses it can be healthy, motivating us to do well; but when we start to experience too much stress, we can have problems concentrating, difficulty sleeping, irritability, or get sick more easily. Extreme stress can also lead to serious health complications such as a stroke or heart attack. Take these steps to start reducing your work-related stress. 

1. Remember to eat breakfast. It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason. Give your brain lots of nutritious calories in the morning to keep you alert and energized. 

2. Take some time for yourself in the morning. Nothing is more stressful than walking into a busy workplace. By getting to the office 20 or 30 minutes before the meetings, emails, and phone calls begin, you can mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. 

3. Focus on one thing at a time. When your to-do list is growing by the minute, it can seem very tempting to try to get done multiple things at once. Resist this urge! Giving tasks our undivided attention increases our work quality and lowers anxiety. 

4. Listen to calming music. Having music on in the background as you work is a great way to focus your attention and relax the mind. You’ll want to choose instrumentals or ambient music that isn’t distracting. 

5. Eat away from your workspace. This harkens back to focusing on one thing at a time. By having lunch in the office kitchen, outside, or otherwise away from your computer, you can give yourself a mental break in the middle of the day.  

6. Get your coffee around the block. Exercise and fresh air can help clear the mind and reset your stress to a normal level. Take a quick, brisk walk when you need that afternoon boost, and you’ll return to the office with more energy than you’d get from the caffeine alone. 

7. Have healthy snacks. Our mental and emotional health is tied to our diet. A banana or some almonds as an afternoon snack can help satisfy your hunger and increase your focus without making you feel tired or groggy. 

8. Keep a water bottle at your desk. Staying hydrated has loads of benefits; not only does it help maintain a healthy immune system, but it keeps us from feeling tired. Try bringing in a refillable 1.5 liter bottle that you drink throughout the day. 

9. Write a to-do list before you leave the office. Maybe you didn’t finish the report you were working on, or there are a couple of emails that you need to send out first thing, make a list before going home so you have a jumpstart in the morning. 

10. Leave your work at the office. This isn’t always easy, but try to not take work home with you. Time outside of the office should be spent with friends and family, doing things that you love. This is how you avoid burnout. 

11. Know and respect your limits. Striving for perfection is a surefire way to increase your stress and anxiety levels. When you’ve tried your best, feel good about it and move on. You can only do what you can do. 

The best thing that you can do for yourself is to listen to your body. Learn to recognize the signs of stress and seek to actively reduce it in your life. Not only will you feel better, you will produce better work as a result. 

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