Stress is normal and features in daily life for almost everyone. The human body is conditioned to
react to stressful situations; it only becomes a problem if the stress is disproportionate to the
situation or if it’s occurring more than it needs to, i.e. if you are overreacting.
Unfortunately, an office environment, or work in general, is one of the situations where stress is
far more likely to be felt. This is for a combination of factors, but luckily it’s so prevalent that a
large amount of research has been conducted into why it happens and how to stop it – secrets
that every working person should know!
Firstly, make sure that you are acting in a situation, rather than reacting. Keeping control of a
situation gives you more confidence that your strategy is right and boosts your self-confidence,
thus reducing stress. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to bite the bullet, it’s likely that others
will wish that they had acted first too.
It sounds silly, but deep, controlled breathing can really help in a stressful environment. This is
because it forces the body to slow down, controls the physical response to stress and therefore
we feel it a lot less. A good trick is to breathe in through your mouth as though you were sipping
through a straw and exhale slowly through your nose. Done properly you should feel a cool, dry
feeling on your tongue which prompts the heartrate to slow down and stops the release of
adrenaline, removing that ‘flight’ instinct from a difficult situation.
Positive thinking has always been shown to have a positive effect in many situations. This is no
exception. Some tricks to try are to concentrate on building your own self-confidence rather
than relying on others’ perception of your work. You’re almost guaranteed to judge yourself
more critically than colleagues would. So stop seeking others approval and instead give your
work the honest appraisal it deserves.
Similarly, try and keep a good perspective of your work environment. Be aware that it’s not just
your job that features, but a combination of everyone’s. Try not to take criticism too personally
and if you are handed a decision that you simply don’t understand or don’t agree with, then
make you sure you examine it from the perspective of the person who made it. This means you
are more likely to have a balanced view, feel less blame and therefore reduce your stress levels.
Another key point in maintaining a stress-free working environment is to try and ensure that you
have regular breaks built into your schedule. Too many people believe that working for 8-10
hours at your top output makes you the most productive that you can be. Research shows that
intense concentration for just ninety minutes means that your brain then needs a break to
recover before you can go back to that high intensity again. Also take care to cut down on the
number of interruptions that you normally experience in your working day. This will allow a
greater amount of autonomy over your day, which in turn will reduce pressure and relieve
And last, but certainly not least, take care of the small stuff. Eat well and sleep well and you will
probably find that the rest just takes care of itself. Sleep is a critical recovery period for the body
– make sure you allow it.