Chronic stress takes a major toll on your well-being and overall quality of life. It’s been linked to a number of devastating physical and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, heart disease and heart attacks, immune system problems, skin problems and autoimmune diseases, according to the American Institute of Stress.1 Chronic stress is also a major factor for developing a substance use disorder.
Chronic stress can result from poverty, illness, family dysfunction and other life situations that may seem insurmountable. It can also result from having a stressful job that keeps your cortisol and adrenaline levels revved up for hours every day.
It may not be practical—or desirable—to find a new job if your job causes stress in your life, but there are a number of ways to reduce workplace stress. Doing so can improve your job satisfaction as well as reduce chronic stress that can cause problems for your health and happiness.
Here are five ways to reduce workplace stress.
1. Evaluate and reduce specific stressors.
You probably can’t change some of the things about your job that make it stressful. But evaluating the stressors on the job and working to reduce their impact can go a long way toward reducing workplace stress. Streamlining your processes to save time and better managing deadlines are two options to reduce stress at work.
2. Breathe deeply.
When you’re feeling particularly stressed at work, your heart rate and blood pressure will increase. Your muscles will tense, and your body temperature will rise. This is your body’s stress response, and deep breathing exercises can reduce it by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol on the spot. Find a quiet place to sit and breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes. Focus on your breath, and visualize scenes that make you feel calm.
3. Meditate daily.
Just fifteen minutes to a half hour of daily meditation can not only reduce stress on the spot, but it can also change the way your brain and body respond to stress in the future, according to a study by Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientist Sara Lazar.2 This can leave you feeling calmer at work despite the stress, and it can keep your heart rate, blood pressure and other stress responses stable through stressful times.
4. Exercise regularly.
Like regular meditation, regular exercise can help reduce your body’s response to stress. A half hour of moderate-intensity exercise each day will help you stay more calm and clear-headed during times of stress.
5. Consider biofeedback.
Biofeedback is a therapy that helps you learn to control your body’s stress response. During biofeedback therapy, a monitor displays your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and other stress responses. As you practice deep breathing and visualization exercises, the monitor shows your body responding as your stress response is reduced. This teaches you to lower your stress response quickly and easily in times of high stress, and it improves awareness of your body and how it reacts to stress.
Less Workplace Stress Means Better Health and Well-being
The more you work to reduce your workplace stress, the lower your chances of developing stress-related illnesses. Stay mindful of your stress levels every day, and do what you can to minimize them for better health and well-being.