Stress comes hand in hand with any job but I have to say that its been more than I expected. I was becoming very overwhelmed and overworked after settling last minute details for a major weekend conference(this past weekend and it was a success), my usual events, our annual fundraising dinner and a conference in DC (which I got home from last night). My work is enjoyable and I love that these events turn out so well but sometimes the office just gets a little crazy or I feel like there must be more efficient ways to do things. Stress at work is totally different than the stress that I experienced while away at school. You have a support system and you can pause to take a breather most days, its a little more complicated with work. Finally after my crazy two weeks I’m able to pause for some self care and really think about changing things to remove stress from my life or at least at work.
Here are my tips that will help you banish stress at work and enjoy your free time rather than worrying.
One: Declutter to Destress
Cleaning is stressful sometimes but do yourself a favor and declutter your workspace. There’s nothing worse than trying to find missing notes and feeling overwhelmed in the mess that may be your desk. For me personally, when my desk is covered in mail, papers and academic journals I feel like I have much more to do and things are more chaotic than they actually are. Once I take the 15 minutes to declutter and put things away in their proper folders and homes I instantly feel much better and even more motivated to get to the things that have deadlines or that I’ve been putting off.
I often find myself waiting until the end of the day to do the things on my to-do list that I really don’t want to. I spend the whole day thinking about these items, stressing over them and rushing to finish them. Then by the time it’s time to go home, I’m exhausted and sometimes in a terrible mood. This past week I decided to do the less than fun to do list items first thing in the morning when I get in. By lunch time I have more enjoyable things to do and I’m not worrying about getting those things finished. I end my day on a much happier note doing this.
Three: Me Time at Work
In a small office I quickly noticed that people will skip their lunch to do work and I felt a little pressured to do this as well. Not only does skipping a meal and avoiding a break make me grumpy but it also stresses me out. A lunch break is a time that you should be using to recharge and let go of work related stresses. No matter how busy I get at work I will always take my lunch break outside of the office. If I’m really busy and a full lunch break won’t work at all then I’ll eat while I work and take a walk around a few blocks around my building for 20-30 minutes(I very rarely do this because I make sure I take my full lunch). Never feel guilty for taking time out to eat and take care of yourself.
Four: Keep Work in the Office
As an event planner I will sometimes need to keep my phone next to me to ensure our speakers are arriving to the city with no issues but otherwise I refuse to bring work home with me. I keep my email off my cell phone and unless there is a major event happening on Monday I will not check my email on the weekend. All my coworkers and my boss have my cell phone number so if there is an emergency I can be reached. At one point I would bring little projects home but it was getting to the point where I would dread going to work because I didn’t have a sufficient enough break from it. Going home after my long day gives me an opportunity to recharge and become more motivated for the following day. Bringing work home doesn’t allow you to do that. Also if you have so much work that you’re forced to bring work home every night rather than on just the occasion then you should look into delegating tasks more or speaking to your boss about your workload.
Five: Self Care is Key
This is probably the tip that I struggle with most, self care. Make sure you are drinking enough water and getting real sleep. I often find myself drinking way too much coffee and little to no water during the day if I’m very busy. I don’t know why but in my mind I connect caffeine with productivity and that’s simply not the reality. If you load up on caffeine but neglect hydrating yourself properly you’ll become even more lethargic and can hurt your body in the long run. I now try to carry my favorite water bottle with me anywhere I go and if I drink a cup of coffee, I have two cups of water to compensate. I also have adopted the rule of no electronics in the bedroom. When I used to bring my phone or laptop to bed with me I would stay up for hours looking at nonsense. It kept me awake and I wouldn’t get a full night of sleep. Since removing electronics from the bedroom, I’ve begun falling asleep earlier and stayed asleep through the night. I also encourage you to do things like give yourself a manicure or take a bath to help you relax after a stressful day, if you find a hobby for yourself; even better!
During your next busy and stressful week or even this Monday, try out a few of these tips to see if they help minimize and manage your stress. Let me know how they work out for you and if you have any other tips please share them in the comments below! I would love to learn what works best for you.
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