Stress and work don’t have to go hand-in-hand. In fact, you can feel relaxed and at ease during a busy day at the office or while struggling to balance work and family responsibilities. By integrating effective stress-busting tactics into your daily routine, you can transform the daily grind into a relatively peaceful and productive experience that each day of your life should be.
Make the effort for your mental health – your state of mind is worth it! We’ve put together some actionable stress busting tips that can prevent stress turning into anxiety and panic attacks.
Forget ‘going for a massage’ or ‘taking me-time’ – these are real ways for busy professionals to combat stress or work and family commitments. These tips and techniques will help you remain calm, even during a hectic, pressure-filled days, and to prevent anxiety at work from getting out of control.
1. Evolve the To-Do List
One of the biggest causes of anxiety and stress at work is feeling like you have a zillion things to do and not knowing clearly what all those zillion things are. This causes the mind to endlessly remind itself of tasks in order to avoid forgetting what has to be done, like an endless, highly stressful, cognitive loop.
To break this cycle, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, recommends writing everything down in a trusted place, such as in your monthly planner, on your smartphone’s notes or an online to-do list/organiser like Toodledo. This frees up your mind so it can focus on other things or simply rest. To shorten your to-do list dramatically, try consolidating similar tasks: group bills with simple paperwork, research, emails and phone calls, etc., so you can knock off chunks of your list at once. Finally, set aside a block of time for different tasks – such as Wednesday morning for follow-up communication and Thursday afternoon for report writing time. These strategies allow you to let go of the stress of having to do too much, while also enjoying the sense of accomplishment as you conquer tasks more effectively.
2. Create Your Own Positive Affirmation
You’re not going to escape stressful situations at work, whether you deal with hard deadlines or difficult co-workers. What you can do to help prevent the everyday stressors from bringing you down is to have a coping mechanism ready to go. Take some time to develop your own positive affirmation. According to Kathleen Hall, PhD, founder of The Stress Institute, we have the power to cancel out a stressful or disturbing thought – and thereby regain a sense of calm – by using a positive thought or statement.
It can be something as simple and profound as, “I’m going to be fine,” or “This too shall pass,” or something that is more tailored to you. Write it down on an index card if you like. When a stressful situation comes your way, say this positive statement to yourself, or take out your card and read it.
3. Feed Your Body, Mind and Spirit at Lunch
During a busy day, you may be tempted to cram in a vending machine sandwich or a pie from the local lunch bar while getting ready for your big presentation. This actually will do more harm than you may realise. Your body needs healthy, nourishing food in order to function properly and to feel calm.
Vitamin C, for example, is known to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels in times of stress. Omega fatty acids are excellent for keeping your nervous system in optimal condition. To help reduce your daily stress levels, ensure that lunch time is loaded with nutritious foods, so you can turn off the laptop, put away the notes and enjoy! Avocados, sesame seeds, nuts, fresh berries, green tea, grass fed beef and salmon are all excellent calming foods to add to your lunch time menu.
4. Zen Your Workspace
A cluttered desk is not going to help you feel calm while at work. Take the time to simplify your workspace as much as possible. Eliminate what you no longer need. Store everything except for three or four essential items (computer, notebook, pen, phone…) in drawers, organisers, and other areas where you can keep them out of sight. Take a few minutes at the end of every week to make sure everything is in order so when you start work again on Monday, you can begin your day in a space that inspires you.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Something as simple as ten minutes a day of mindfulness can revolutionise your perception of work and responsibility. Make a few minutes of mindful meditation or simple deep breathing exercises into a daily habit to prevent stress and anxiety from taking hold. Studies show that mindfulness not only reduces stress, it also increases your ability to think critically and concentrate on your work. We’ve even put together a list of our favourite mindfulness apps to help you focus the mind.
Choose positive habits and allow your mental well-being to transform. However, if you’ve tried the above tips and you’re still feeling overwhelming anxiety or even panic attacks while trying to keep up with a hectic schedule, you can talk to the experts (clinical psychologists like us!) who can provide treatment for anxiety and panic attacks, helping you find better ways to cope with the stresses and strains.