6 Habits to Manage Work-Related Stress

Do you struggle with work-related stress? Research from the American Institute of Stress reveals that most American adults struggle with stressors related to their workload, work-life balance, and job security1 – with 40% of workers reporting that their job causes them extreme stress. 

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If you’re wondering what you can do to settle those intense feelings that are triggered by a hard day on the job, keep reading! Here you will find 6 habits that you can implement to manage work-related stress.

1. Create a Sleep Schedule to be More Alert

Are you sleeping well? A  productive work week depends on you getting enough sleep, consistently. In an NPJ Digital Medicine2 sleep survey, published in February 2021, researchers found that inconsistent sleep habits can affect a person’s mood and increase their risk of having depression.

So what exactly are the benefits of sticking to a sleep schedule? According to research reported by SCL Health, sleep can brighten your mood and increase workplace productivity3 – because it is linked to higher energy levels and improved cognitive function.

2. Turn-Off Notifications to Stay Focused

In our hyper-digital world, it is difficult to stay focused. According to experts at Harvard Business Review4, an overload of computer and smartphone notifications impedes productivity in the workplace. If you need to stay calm and focus on the task at hand, consider disabling notifications on your devices while you work.  

Silencing email notifications, to set aside blocks of time to work on specific tasks, is a simple step you can take to reduce workload stress. Take it a step further by turning off social media notifications as well – unless your job requires you to manage their online presence, then you might want to keep those on.

3. Take Moments to Breathe Whenever Possible

If you have a demanding job, mediation might help you manage your stress. A study5 conducted by researchers, at the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic, found that meditation can not only reduce work-related stress – it can boost morale as well.  Surveyed participants saw a 31% decrease in stress levels and a 28% increase in vitality after completing a full year of mindfulness techniques. 

On your next work break, treat yourself to a deep breath! Download a meditation app on your smartphone or tablet so you can access a calmer state of mind anytime you want. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, meditating can help you refocus your energy and find peace in the midst of chaos.

4. Play Music to Reduce Stress

The next time you need to calm down, turn on your favorite tunes. According to the professionals at PsychCentral, calming music is not limited to classical and ambient sounds6 – listening to your favorite jams can be beneficial, no matter the genre. 

A 2020 research study7 on music therapy for stress reduction, indicated that music can be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Music is a healthy distraction; reducing emotional and physical stress levels
  • Music can lower an accelerated heart rate
  • Music can help release endorphins and improve your mood

Whether you’re in the office or unwinding at home, you can grab your headphones, put on a song, and relax.

5. Cultivate Hobbies to Find a Work-Life Balance

Perhaps you can’t find a good work-life balance because you don’t have many hobbies. Have you tended to your garden or dusted off that camera you bought last year? When you are not working, what do you like to do?

According to Psychology Today, having hobbies can help you cope with a stressful job.8 Beyond distracting you from mentally replaying the bad days at the office, over and over; hobbies remind you that you are a multifaceted person. Your career is only a fraction of your identity. When you pick up hobbies, such as gardening or swimming, you can find peace outside of the workplace.

6. Take Time Off to Recharge

American workers are famous for skipping out on vacation and grinding in the office instead. However, all work and no play can take a toll on employees – whether they know it or not. In a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, it was revealed that working long hours led to over 700,000 deaths from stroke and heart disease9 in 2016.

Additionally, a 2016 study10 assessing the biological impact of meditation compared to vacations, concluded that taking time away from work can have physical and psychological benefits. So why are Americans skipping out on vacation time when it is so important?

There is a tremendous amount of pressure to excel in the workplace! However, taking a vacation from work grants you the opportunity to recharge and refocus – enabling you to tackle obstacles upon your return. If you can take time off, consider doing so immediately! It could work wonders for your health.

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1. Workplace stress. The American Institute of Stress. (2021, February 9). Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress

2. Fang, Y., Forger, D. B., Frank, E., Sen, S., & Goldstein, C. (2021, February 18). Day-to-day variability in sleep parameters and depression risk: A prospective cohort study of training physicians. Nature News. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-021-00400-z 

3. The benefits of getting a full night’s sleep. SCL Health. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2018/09/the-benefits-of-getting-a-full-night-sleep/

4. Knight, R., Friedman, R., & Webb, C. (2019, April 5). Stop letting push notifications ruin your productivity. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2019/03/stop-letting-push-notifications-ruin-your-productivity 

5. Corpcomm. (2019, January 17). Cleveland Clinic study finds that meditation at work reduces stress and boosts morale. Cleveland Clinic Newsroom. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2016/03/09/cleveland-clinic-study-finds-meditation-work-reduces-stress-boosts-morale/. 

6. Collins, D. (2021, August 18). Can listening to music reduce stress? research, benefits, and genres. Psych Central. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://psychcentral.com/stress/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress. 

7. authors, A., Witte, M. de, & Additional information funding this work was supported by Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek: [Grant Number 023.007.068]. (n.d.). Music therapy for stress reduction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved December 22, 2021, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17437199.2020.1846580. 

8. Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Six reasons to get a hobby. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happy-trails/201509/six-reasons-get-hobby. 

9. Chappell, B. (2021, May 17). Overwork killed more than 745,000 people in a year, who study finds. NPR. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/2021/05/17/997462169/thousands-of-people-are-dying-from-working-long-hours-a-new-who-study-finds. 

10. ScienceDaily. (2016, August 30). Systems Biology Research Study reveals benefits of vacation, meditation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830091815.htm.