When it comes to reducing workplace stress, there’s only so much you can do to change your environment, your job or the people you work with. The following strategies for reducing workplace stress and improving performance rely on changing the things you CAN control – what you do with your body.
1. Get out of your chair. Tension builds the longer you sit while energy and metabolism slow. Several times during the day take a minute or two to move your body. Set your laptop on a cardboard box to stand and type, do some stretching to release muscular tension and stress, go up and down a couple flights of stairs, or go outside for a quick walk around the building.
2. REALLY get out of your chair. Short bursts of intense physical activity burn off stress hormones and release endorphins – the bliss molecules – that restore balance. A cardiovascular interval training workout not only burns more fat, more calories, and dramatically improves your level of fitness; it also trains the body to recover from the “stress” of exercise more quickly and efficiently. You’re improving your resiliency.
3. Take frequent snack breaks. Eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day to manage blood glucose levels. Why? When blood glucose levels get too low it puts stress on the body, secretes stress hormones, sends it into survival mode and you get “hangry”: hungry and angry. You can also become impatient, critical, and easily pushed over the edge. Not so great for performance.
4. Minimize caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. It’s easy to reach for these when feeling stressed out. In reality all of these substances release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which actually increase physiological stress on the body. Keep them to a minimum or find suitable replacements.
5. Don’t overeat at lunch or dinner. Many people skip breakfast, work all morning, are famished by the time lunch rolls around, and then eat an enormous meal. Putting too much glucose into the system at one time adds stress to the body in that greater levels of insulin must be released, and any glucose that can’t be used is stored in the fat cells. Not only is eating too much at once a stress on the body, carrying around extra fat also places stress on the system. Not to mention the food coma you suffer from after a big meal can greatly diminish your motivation, energy and performance.