We’ve all had those days at work or class when it seems hard to focus — we feel tired, a bit cranky for no apparent reason and stressed to the max over lengthy to-do lists. Whether you’re feeling hungry, tired, irritated or overwhelmed, there are several ways to chill out and relax at work. These ten tips will help you de-stress at work and give you that extra boost to make it to quittin’ time.
1. Finish the least interesting or hardest projects first in your day.
Getting the most time-consuming or brain-bending items checked off your to-do list first will help make the rest of your work day a breeze. Who wants to work on budgets or write annual reports in the afternoon? Get the tough stuff done in the morning when your mind is sharpest.
2. Plan ahead.
Create a calendar to visualize when projects are due. Organizing your work schedule and project timelines will leave you feeling less overwhelmed with tasks. Try breaking up a big project or presentation into small parts with individual due dates before the big deadline. Completing smaller parts of a big task weeks ahead of the final deadline will leave you feeling calm and in control of the project.
3. Manage your email.
Email can be one of the most stressful things about any job. Opening up that inbox in the morning to find numerous messages can be a daunting way to start the day. It’s time to start tackling that inbox immediately rather than putting it off until the afternoon. Don’t waste time responding to messages that really require no reply, and follow the rule of three. If you’ve gone back and forth via email with more than three messages it may be time to pick up the phone and talk.
4. Move it.
If you have been sitting, stand up every 30 minutes and do some stretches. Lift both arms up and sway side to side to relax your shoulder muscles and relieve tension in the back. Walk to the printer, a coworker’s desk or just down the hallway and back. Moving around does wonders for the body and is great if you have a desk job. For added physical health benefits at work be sure that your workspace is ergonomically correct. Advocate for your health by requesting a standing work station if you feel you need to be on your feet to feel and do your best work.
5. Get a head start.
We’ve all had those mornings when we can’t seem to get out of bed, and by the time we do we are rushing around and in a hurry for work. Do away with the unnecessary stress of the L-word—late. No one likes late, and if you get up an extra 30 or even 15 minutes early you can get ready for the day in a stress free way. A calm and relaxed morning routine will make for a productive, cool and collected day at work.
6. Play some music.
If you are in a work setting where music can be played at a low volume — go for it! Music promotes relaxation, and your favorite beats are sure to keep you in a positive mindset. If you can’t make too much noise at your desk, plug some headphones in and get to work.
7. Don’t forget to eat.
Nourishing your body will help you stay focused and feel balanced at work. Pack some healthy snacks for mid-morning and afternoon breaks, and be sure to eat lunch away from your desk. Taking a break from the office atmosphere and getting some air will help you relax and unwind from “work mode” for 30 minutes or an hour. Give your eyes a break from that computer screen too by going for a short walk, chatting with coworkers or reading a book.
8. Dress your desk.
Who said your workspace has to be as boring as its cube-y shape? Decorate the space you spend a good portion of your week in by adding colorful photos, notes, cards and other positive reminders of friends, family and why you do the work you do everyday. If you have a job that induces more stress than most, try adding a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster to your space. It may just do the trick!
9. Be social.
Get to know your coworkers when you have some downtime. Talking face-to-face with each other seems to be a bit of a rarity between emails and Google Chat. Get up out of your chair and talk to coworkers in person a few times a day. Positive human interactions are key to staying upbeat and carefree throughout the day.
10. Pat yourself on the back.
You work hard every day, so don’t be afraid to say to yourself, “Good job self,” at the end of the day. Treating yourself to a relaxing massage, some dark chocolate, or a bubble bath at the end of a productive work week can be just the right amount of self-encouragement to keep you focused, motivated and ready to take on the next week come Sunday evening.
With these ten tips for de-stressing at work you’re sure to find something that will stick and become a part of your work routine. Remember: attitude is everything and positivity is the key to success. Having a case of the Mondays will become a thing of the past!