Stress is a stealthy, silent killer. It sneaks up on you, building up in the background until you can't ignore it any longer. Stress can cause everything from headaches to heart attacks, and the long term effects of stress on your body can be absolutely devastating. Even if you love your job — sometimes especially if you love your job — work is one of the biggest contributors to our everyday stress levels, so make sure to pay attention to the things at work that may be giving you stress.
One of the first things you should do is get your time management in order. Figure out how much time it takes you to finish certain tasks and plan accordingly. If you have a big deadline coming up, make sure to give yourself lots of little deadlines between now and then. Break the work into bite-size chunks, and master the art of prioritizing tasks. Remember that effective time management includes delegating tasks you don't have time to finish. Don't take on more work than you can finish in the time you have available.
Everyone has made the mistake of getting sucked into work, failing to take time off, or working all night on a project without really realizing what they were doing. Once or twice isn't something to worry too much about, but if it becomes a habit, then you have a problem. Work-life balance is one of the leading causes of work-related stress. Don't fall into the trap of choosing work over life every time. Obviously you don't want to get fired, but you work to live, not the other way around. Make sure that you're giving self-care and personal time equal weight with work time and work goals. You are more important and more valuable than the work you do, and you deserve to take time for yourself now and again.
Sometimes it's the small things that make the biggest difference. Most people sit while they're working, and most people slouch when they're sitting. Slouching is a common enough sin, but it can have serious side effects if it isn't checked. Back problems, repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel and neck pain are just a few problems caused by poor posture. Make an effort to improve your posture at work and investigate more ergonomic options for chairs and keyboards.
When you get stressed out, it’s important to remember to breathe. One of these exercises is to simply close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly and mindfully. While you do so, you can imagine yourself blowing out the stress and tension as you exhale and breathing in peacefulness as you inhale deeply. In fact, there are certain breathing exercises/techniques that can help you calm down immediately and greatly relieve stress.
Another small thing that can make a huge difference is the space you work in. Whether it's a home office or a cubicle, put a little care into making it a space that you enjoy spending time in. Bring little pieces of yourself to your work environment. Not too much: you don't want your space to feel cramped and cluttered, but just enough to make it feel like a place that belongs to you. A few small comforts and things that make you happy can go a long way to reducing stress in the workplace.
Getting exercise doesn't just mean getting to the gym and working your butt off; it can be as simple as stretching your legs. Sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time without moving is no good for your health, make sure to take regular breaks to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing. Exercise releases endorphins that fight stress and can go a long way to counteract the negative effects of sitting and working for a long time, stressing yourself out for no good reason.
Beating stress at work isn't something that's going to be fixed by one trick, and it isn't something that's going to go away easily. Stress builds up from lots of little sources, and lots of little solutions will work together to bring those stress levels back down. If you take the time and make a plan to tackle your work-related stressors, it can go a long way towards reducing stress overall and helping you live a longer, happier life.