The Tipping List
Stressed at Work? Work it Out, Girl!
5 Ways to De-Stress Your Workday
I know I’m starting to get stressed at work when my hands slowly but surely make their way to my face and I start rubbing my eyebrows. (Luckily, I’ve yet to rub one off – key word being “yet.”) I have a friend who bites the inside of her cheek when she’s stressed – resulting in very sore cheeks that don’t play well with her favorite salty snacks.
Work stress gets us all at some point, but there are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way that help keep my eyebrows – and my sanity – intact.
1. I clean my desk. I am a cluttery person, so this is a big deal for me. I find that if I take five minutes at some point during the day, or before I leave at night, and just pick up my desk, my mind seems to declutter as well. Post-its go in the trash, old to-do lists are likewise disposed of. Paperclips and pens get swept into a drawer, the same way I used to sweep my toys under my bed at night. Suddenly, I have a clean desk – and a clean slate inside my head.
2. I plug in to my iPod. Sometimes I’ll get really crazy and go with streaming radio, but it’s usually my iPod, with all the music I love. Not only does it help me tune out annoying office noise, but indulging in something I love brings a sense of peace to my mind.
3. I take a mental smoke break. I’ve always thought it unfair that smokers were allowed to go outside for a smoke break whenever they wanted – for some people, that adds up to a LOT of time spent away from work – while I was expected to remain at my desk and not take breaks. So now I take mental breaks. Sometimes it means that I check on the latest lolcats and sometimes it means I go for a quick walk around the building, but I do something to take my mind off of work for just a few short minutes. I usually can return to my task much more refreshed.
4. I keep a to-do list. I’m a natural list-maker, but in jobs where I have to juggle a lot of projects at once, a to-do list is unbeatable. Back in the day, my lists were usually jotted on a Post-it or in a planner, but lately I’ve taken to keeping a spreadsheet, which I update daily. I categorize each project according to priority and provide a space for due dates, notes and progress. This way, I’m ready each and every time my boss pops in to check on the progress of a given project – which in itself is a huge stress relief!
5. I learned to say no. “No” was verboten vocab for a long time – I never said it, ever! Not even if it meant that I would be the only one working 75 hours that week. Slowly but surely, I’ve learned that no one will look down on me for setting limits, as long as the limits are reasonable. If I can’t complete a project within a reasonable amount of time, I either turn it down or negotiate the terms. I’ve found that employers actually respect this approach, because it means that the ball will never get dropped on their project.