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10 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress at Work

10 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress at Work

A difficult client, a fuming boss, a tight deadline – these are some of the many possible occasions that can make your stress levels soar while you are at work. Needless to say, to find a solution to your problem, being stressed out won’t help you move forward. You need to regain your calm, think clearly, define actionable steps and overcome the problem bit by bit.

Moreover, we all know that stress is essentially bad for us, and has damaging effects on our long term health. Keeping calm and carrying on is more than just a popular internet meme – it’s a skill we all should learn to master.

We are wired to react in a “fight or flight” way, but a grumpy person on the subway is simply not as life-threatening as an approaching lion in our prehistoric days. For this reason, we need to learn to control our reaction to stressful situations and adapt to our modern times that are filled to the brim with stress.

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Whenever you are faced with a situation that can make your adrenaline and cortisol levels spike and your heart pound too quickly, there are a number of actions you can take to bring your stress levels down. None of these actions require more than 15 minutes, and most of them require a simple change in mindset or location, but all of these help you break out of the vicious circle of being faced with stress at work and reacting like a hamster on a wheel.

1. Go for a walk

If you can disappear from your cubicle for a few minutes, head outside and walk around the block. You’ll get some fresh air in your lungs and fresh thoughts in your mind. Did you know that Mandela used to go for a walk every morning to think through the upcoming day?

2. Listen to calming music

Pop your earphones, and listen to some calming music: classical music, new age, post rock – whatever brings you in that blissful state of relaxation.

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3. Follow a short guided meditation

Turn your chair towards a window, or -if all else fails- hide in the bathroom for a few minutes, and listen to a guided meditation on your computer, smartphone or MP3 player. There are many smartphone apps that contain enjoyable guided meditations that can help you bring your zen back.

4. Watch pictures of kittens or puppies

You might think that watching internet memes of cute kittens is a waste of your time or a guilty pleasure, but there’s actually some benefit in watching these adorable young pets. Research suggest that watching kittens or puppies can reduce your stress levels.

5. Have a warm drink

Research suggests that we see other people as more sympathetic when we hold a warm drink as compared to when we hold a cold drink. Moreover, taking the time to get yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee can be that little bit of comfort you need during a difficult moment.

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6. Do a few stretches to get your blood circulating

Refresh your thoughts by doing some quick physical activity. Check out a yoga sequence for your office to twist your spine, or do a few jumping jacks and wall push-ups. Any activity that breaks the rut of overthinking the problem that causes stress in the first place, will have a (temporary) positive effect.

7. Stop by the cubicle of a befriended coworker

Talk to a friend about the situation that upsets you, get a pat on your shoulder or hug when you need it, and feel that heavy weight getting relieved from your chest. A situation can look much less intimidating once you discussed it over with a trustee.

8. Watch your urge, and let it go

Zen masters teach us to sit through our discomfort, to simply watch our urge to start frantically running around, smile, and let it go. Don’t follow your monkey-mind or reptilian midbrain and blindly follow your first instinct. Instead, watch your urge to react then think if your reaction is correct and if this will bring you a step closer to the solution.

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9. Take a time-out in a quiet room

If the general buzz in your office adds to your stress-levels, then seek out a quiet place (for example, an empty meeting room or your library) away from the situation and come back to your inner peace. Being away from a stressful environment of an office and enjoying a more peaceful location can do wonders to your stress-levels.

10. If you are pressed for time: take three deep breaths before reacting

If a reaction is expected from you right away, then allow yourself at least the time to take three breaths before acting or replying. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm to calm your mind and body. Singers, babies and yogis all know the benefit of abdominal breathing. Teach yourself this skill, as it offers an emergency time-out whenever and wherever you need it.

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Eva Lantsoght

Eva is a university professor and a professional structural engineer. She writes about achieving excellence and success in life on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 23, 2020

Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More

Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More

Are you waking up each day looking for that perfect thing, activity, or job that will make your life work? Or, maybe you are looking for that perfect relationship. Once you “get” this new thing that will allow you to do what you love, you are sure that you will be happy forever.

In reality, life doesn’t work like that, and we would probably get bored if it did. There is likely no one thing, experience, or activity that will keep you feeling passionate and engaged all the time. What’s important is staying connected to what you love and continuing to grow in the process.

Here, we’ll talk about how to get started doing what you love and achieving more in life through the motivation it brings. Doing this doesn’t have to take a long time; it just takes determination and energy.

Most People Already Know Their Passion

So many people walk around in life “looking for” their passion. They look for it as if true passion is some mysterious thing that is difficult to find and runs away once you find it. However, the problem is rarely lack of passion.

Most of us already know what we love to do. We know what excites us, even if we haven’t done it for years. Instead, we focus on what we think we “must” do.

For example, maybe you love building model cars or painting pet portraits. Yet, each day you work a completely unrelated job and make no time for the activity you already know you love. The truth is you probably don’t need to find your passion; you just need to start doing what you already know you’re passionate about[1].

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No Activity Is Exciting All the Time

Even people who are living their dream lifestyle or working their dream job don’t love it all the time. Every job or lifestyle has parts of it that we won’t like.

Let’s say your dream is to become an actress, and you succeed. You may not enjoy the process of auditioning and facing rejection. You may experience moments of boredom when you practice your lines over and over again. But the overall experience is totally worth it.

Most of life is like that. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by demanding that life be perfect all the time. If things were perfect and easy, you would ultimately stop learning and growing, and life would begin to lack even more meaning in that case.

Be grateful for both the good and bad moments as they are both entirely necessary if you genuinely want to do what you love and love what you do.

Doing What You Love May Not Be Easy

Living a life you love is unlikely to be easy. If it was, you would not grow very much as a person. And, if you think about a great book or movie, the growth of the main character is what matters most.

What if the challenges you meet along your path to living a life you love were designed to make you grow as a person? You may actually start looking forward to challenges instead of dreading them. An easy life hardly ever makes a compelling story.

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If you struggle to overcome challenges, try writing them down each time you encounter one. Then, write down three ways you could tackle it. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another. This way, you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for you.

How to Do What You Love

There are many small steps you can take to ensure you are making time to do the things you love. Start with these, and you’ll likely find that you’re already on the right track.

1. Choose Your Priorities Wisely

Many people claim they want to do something, yet they don’t do it. The truth is they might not really want to do it in the first place[2].

We all end up following through on what matters most to us. We make decisions moment by moment about what we need to focus on. What we choose to do is what we deem most important in our lives.

If there is something you claim you want to do but you don’t do it, try asking yourself how much you really want it or where it’s currently placed on priority list. Are there other things you want more?

Be honest with yourself: what you currently do each day is a reflection of your priorities. Recognize that you can change your priorities at any time.

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Make a list of your priorities. Really take the time to think this through. Then, ask yourself if what you are doing each day reflects them. For example, if you believe your top priority is spending more time with your family, but you consistently take on extra hours at work, you’re not really prioritizing things in the way you think you are.

If this is happening, it’s time to make a change.

2. Do One Small Thing Each Day

As stated above, doing what you love doesn’t have to mean finding that perfect job that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. If you want to do what you love, start with one small thing each day.

Maybe you love reading a good book. Take ten minutes before bed to read.

Maybe you love swimming. Get a membership at the local YMCA, and go there for thirty minutes after work each day.

Dedicating even a short amount of time to something that brings you joy each day will improve your life overall. You may find that, over time, a career path related to what you love to do pops up. After doing the thing you love each day, you’ll be more than prepared to take it on when the opportunity arises.

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If you need help making time for your passions, check out this article to get started.

3. Prepare to Make Sacrifices

If you are an exceptionally busy person (aren’t we all?), you may have to make sacrifices in order to make space for the things you are passionate about. Maybe you take on less extra hours at the office or take thirty minutes away from another hobby in order to develop another that you enjoy.

Looking at your priority list will help you decide what can get put on the back burner and what can’t. Remember, do this thinking about what will help you feel good about how you’re spending your time. 

For example, if you love writing but rarely make time for it, consider getting up 30 minutes earlier than normal. Or instead of browsing your phone for 30 minutes before bed, you can write instead. There is always a way to find time for what you love.

Final Thoughts

If you love what you do, each day becomes a joyful adventure. If you don’t love what you are doing, life feels like a chore. The best way to achieve success is to design a life you love and live it every day.

Remember, doing something you love doesn’t have to include big gestures or time-consuming projects. Start small and grow from there.

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Featured photo credit: William Recinos via unsplash.com

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