It’s clear that American workers are stressed out. In a recent study of 2,000 workers by Paychex, more than 80% admitted at least one stressful point in their work life. And on a scale of one to five, 42% of these workers also admitted their stress level was at a three – while 26% rated their stress as a four.
What’s causing American workers such high levels of stress? Overly complicated work, long hours and lack of control top the list of stressors. While vacation may seem like the obvious answer to help rid stress and give workers a much needed break, over 662 million vacation days went unused in 2016.
So, what can be done to stress less at work? It all starts with you! Playing a role in your work-life balance will ultimately lead to a happier, less stressful work life. Instead of giving in to the daily stress-points of work, try incorporating these 5 actions into your daily routine.
1. Take Some Time for Yourself – According to an OfficeTeam survey, 48% of workers said their typical lunch break lasts 30 minutes or less. An astonishing 29% admitted to working during that time, while 42% said they use their lunch break to socialize with coworkers.
While working through lunch might feel productive, it can actually be counterintuitive. Taking daily breaks can actually help improve concentration and bring loads more energy to your work day. Studies have even shown that frequent breaks contribute to fewer aches and pains when returning to work.
Go for a walk outside, spend time reading a new book or even practice mindfulness – time away from your work responsibilities will have you feeling refreshed and a little less stressed.
2. Plan Your Day in Advance – Feel overwhelmed the minute you get to your desk in the morning? Banish that feeling in advance by planning your day the day before. Let your end of day ritual consist of creating a list of your next day to-dos. This will help you wind down from the day’s work, but also help prepare you for the next day’s activities – helping you to plan better and think ahead.
3. Power Down After Work – Does it surprise you that 87% of workers checked their business emails outside of work hours? Of course not! Americans are working more hours than ever, both inside and outside of work, contributing to the massive amount of stress felt daily.
Instead of routinely checking work emails outside of work hours, focus that energy on a hobby you’re interested in or spending more time with your family. You’ll have more time to dedicate to the things that bring you enjoyment, while your aggravation levels decrease.
4. Please Do Not Disturb – Interruptions are inevitable, but did you know it takes approximately 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand? Enough interruptions in a day could send anyone into a tail-spin feeling like they’ve accomplished little out of their busy day.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have an office with a lockable door, interruptions might be a normal part of your day. Be upfront and proactive with coworkers who are consistent interruptions. Try blocking off time in your calendar, plugging in your headphones or even putting an out of office message on. Coworkers will get the message that you’re in the zone and don’t want to be disturbed – helping you better control your workload and feel less overwhelmed.
Next time you feel an abundance of workplace stress coming on, remember, you have the tools necessary to bypass stress and take control of your work life.