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  • Writer's pictureRobert Christopher

Work Stress Is Real – So Deal With It

Just a quick review of 10 thoughtful ideas on how to manage some work-related stress.

"The Office" has been an enormous hit worldwide now for almost two decades, spawning countless spin-offs and remakes from the original BBC's stunningly successful short-lived sit-com.

The comedic situations that occur during the series help bridge gaps in cultural barriers at work and in life. The same idioms of the language may alter, but essentially we see people in the show that we easily relate to – sometimes we even see ourselves.

The characters are not the only aspect of the show that transfers, so do the situations portrayed by the actors. Do these two quotes from The Office strike a chord with you?

Jim Halpert: Right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train.

Michael Scott: This is our receptionist, Pam. If you think she's cute now, you should have seen her a couple of years ago.

These lines may be inappropriately funny or all too real, yet they point to the issue of "work-related stress" that many employees experience at different times in their careers.

We all know that some stress is healthy; it keeps us on our toes and drives us to achieve. In essence, moderate pressure has proven to help lead to more fulfilling lives. Too much, though, may cause an adverse response to a person's everyday life activities when the combined excessive pressure or other unrealistic demands of work become too much. 1

If you are responsible for people in your workplace, work in HR, or manager people, ask yourself these two questions;

  • What techniques can you apply to encourage focus and fulfillment of yourself and staff at work?

  • How can you better help create a healthy balance of positive pressure that motivates instead of creating too much stress that becomes harmful to an employees' well-being?

Stay with me for a short while and read on; I will try my best to discuss some simple ideas to initiate stress and anxiety relief at work.

1. Listen To Your Thoughts

It may be a simple concept, but unlocking the box to your stress and anxiety can help you stay focused and feel fulfilled at the end of each workday. Learning how to be aware of the degree of stress that you're experiencing at any moment in time can help you move forward when work demands pile up.

Take time to listen to your thoughts each day; During the day, check into the scale and not the level of tension you're feeling: are your shoulders hunched and tense; how does your gut feel, is it tight and churning; is your jaw clenched?

Find some time when you can sit quietly and close your eyes for 10 minutes. Put on your favorite music for relaxing or sit in silence, whatever works best for you. Just let your mind wander and do not seek to hold your thoughts, no matter how fleeting. At the end of your exercise, re-evaluate your gut. Are you more relaxed now?

2. Take time to move throughout the day

Movement is a great way to reduce stress levels. Just by getting out of your seat and moving around, you will feel a measure of stress and anxiety relief. A brisk walk during your lunch break and a short jogging session at the end of the day will reduce tension. Generally, aim to live more fit and exercise at least a few times a week.

3. Take time for deep breathing

Many cultures throughout history have documented the value and importance of deep breathing exercises. Take a moment today and breath in deeply, inhaling through your nostrils and exhaling through your mouth. Intentionally, slow down your breathing, little by little, until you feel calmer. I practice breathing while using my Tibetian Singing Bowl, and if you are not familiar with them, you can check them out sometime by clicking on the link. A worthwhile $20.00 investment.

4. Take time to use the power of your mind of imagery

This is another excellent way to bring stress and anxiety relief into the workplace. Just take a moment or two to imagine that you are somewhere else. Hear the sound of the sea, create the vivid colors of the sky in your mind, the soar of to your favorite place, and do not wait for that distant vacation; go there today. The more vivid the images, the better this stress and anxiety relief technique will work.

5. Take time to challenge your irrational thoughts

Be aware of your inner voice and the messages that it is sending to you. These thoughts are often based on previous mind conditioning, and opinions will be harmful and create excessive stress levels. For example, if you are under pressure to get something done by a particular time, you may find yourself thinking," I must get this done or else I'm fired, and I'll need to find another job!" This is probably not the case, and if it is, then you're probably better looking for another job anyway.

6. Take time to plan work into smaller manageable tasks

Large tasks can be overwhelming and may need to be broken down into more straightforward, more comfortable to complete jobs. We meet more step by step targets this way and feel a greater sense of achievement after each phase is finished. Reward yourself for completing the smaller tasks and not wait for the final job before patting yourself on the back.

7. Take time to reduce caffeine intake

Have you ever seen a two-year-old completely wired after chewing through a few cookies or drinking cola? Well, that's precisely what happens to all of us when we take in too much sugar or caffeine. However, unlike the youngster at home, we can't very well run around the office making airplane noises, or can we? I would bet Sir Richard Branson still does, so go for it.

8. Take time to have a play break

Some professionals keep squish balls, or stress balls, in their workspace; a simple squeeze is all that is needed for rapid relief of stress and anxiety. Other people take a few minutes to doodle or sketch. I have become fond of coloring books like Sasha O'Hara's correctly titled one, "Calm the F*ck Down"

9. Don't Write That Email - Take time to Blow Off Steam Away From Work.

Don't put anything in an email you don't want the whole office to read. Remember, words spoken in anger can haunt you for a long time. I have witnessed many leaders and executives set back and even lose their careers by hitting send too quickly. Cuba Gooding Jr. is not going to save your job when you pretend to be Jerry McQuire. It is essential to have a safe place and circle of people in your life that allow you to express yourself in stressful moments so that you do not leave that tension bottled up for too long.

10. Take time to understand that a little stress is worthwhile

Finally, remember that it's natural to feel anxiety when you leave your comfort zone. Some stress must be endured as you expand your horizons, learn new tasks and earn new responsibilities. That kind of stress may not be much fun, but it's worth it in the long run!

If you agree or disagree with this article, please be sure to join our community of company work culture thought leaders and share your thoughts. You can connect with Rob Robichaud @ 480-637-2385 or on @

1 The Health and Safety at Work Executive (HSE), British government work-related health and safety organization.

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