Although summer is drawing to a close, time for relaxation does not have to end. The technology industry can be a stressful vocation, but there are ways to bring a calming breeze to your workday and beat stress in the workplace. A relaxed work environment may even contribute to increased productivity.
Statistics show that employees are more productive when they find ways to relax and relieve stress throughout the workday. Stress can cause you to push your health to the side, leading to decreased energy and focus to get things done. And with more to do, you have less time to hit the gym after work, prepare a healthy meal, or even get the much needed eight hours of sleep every night. When your body is not working at its best, your ability to focus and be productive is affected. It is a vicious cycle. It’s time to buckle down, and root out the real evil causing your life to spin out of control–stress. Here are some tips to help you relax at work all year long.
1. Start your day off right.
What do you do as soon as you wake up in the mornings? Are you checking and replying to emails before you even pull the covers back? You aren’t even giving yourself a chance to ease into the day, no wonder you are frantic. Working in the IT industry can make it especially difficult to reduce the use of technology in your personal time, which is why it is important to unplug for a portion of the day.
The morning is the perfect time to find quiet, because it is, well, quiet in the morning. Try to enjoy a silent moment alone. Be intentional about your morning routine. Put thought into what you are doing, and what you hope for those habits to accomplish. Journal or meditate and create habits that lead to positive mindfulness over your life. “Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.” Studies have shown that having a mindful state of consciousness leads to more engagement throughout the day, thus a more productive day. A study at Harvard Health Publications states that mindfulness is also linked to improving physical health, such as lower blood pressure, improved sleep, and alleviated gastrointestinal difficulties (all of which come as no surprise) and can all help to beat stress in the workplace.
2. Create a work space oasis.
There are many factors that contribute to stress levels at work, one of the simplest issues being your work space. Is your work space littered with old post-it notes, knick-knacks, pens, and paper? Get rid of it. Every piece of clutter on your desk creates another distraction, cutting down on productivity and adding to the pile of daily stressors.
Another building block to your paradise ambiance is eliminating the noise clutter. Wear headphones. It lets others know you are in the zone, and depending on your playlist, it may even increase productivity. A study out of the University of Birmingham, England shows that music increases productivity and cuts back stress. Listen to sounds of nature, or classical music to add an extra boost to productivity. Stay away from music that will split your focus, such as music with heavy beats and lyrics because speech distracts about 48% of office workers per Cambridge’s 2008 study.
Lastly, create a relaxing work space where you sit. You might spend 40-50 hours a week sitting at your work desk. Investing in a chair that you spend such a large percentage of your life sitting in is an easy decision. Bad posture leads to back and neck pain, adding to your ever-growing pile of stressors.
3. Allow yourself to take breaks.
Take your lunch break! Only one in five office workers take lunch breaks away from their desks. You will find that giving your brain a break halfway through the day will actually increase your performance in the afternoon hours and help to beat stress in the workplace. Allowing your brain to take a break has been proven to lower blood pressure and improve cognitive retention.
It is also helpful to take smaller breaks throughout the day. Stand up, stretch, make a cup of tea, and just get away from your desk for a couple of minutes. A study done by Baylor University revealed that short, frequent breaks throughout the workday result in “higher job satisfaction; reduced emotional exhaustion; and greater efforts by employees to undertake work above-and-beyond their job description”.
Don’t box your relaxation time into the summer months, there are many ways to help you cut down on stress year-round. Let yourself relax occasionally, and drink in the added benefits of a better overall work/life balance.