Amanda Gregory, LCPC

Audio Version

Do you feel stressed at work and need to calm down quickly? Is the stress you experience at work carrying over into your personal life? Some of us wait until after work to cope because we don’t have access to our coping strategies. You can’t go to the gym, soak in a hot tub, or watch TV while at work. Also, it might feel as if you don’t have the time to focus on relieving stress while working. Therefore, you need stress-relieving coping skills that you can use at work which take little time to implement. Here are some suggestions:

Get Moving. Engage in a short-term physical activity to help manage stress that’s stored in your body. This method won’t be the same as a trip to the gym or a run in the neighborhood, but it can relieve your stress in the moment. Try these physical activities:

  • Take a five-minute, fast-paced walk around the block or the office
  • If you work in a building with multiple floors, try walking up and down the stairs
  • While sitting or standing, stretch any muscles that feel tense

Seek Social Support. Ask your coworkers if they have time to talk and tell them specifically what you need. Do you need to vent? If so, ask them to listen. Do you need their feedback? Then ask them what they think. These interactions can occur in short breaks or during lunch. Don’t assume that your coworkers are too busy. Ask them for support.

You can also seek support from your support system outside of work. Connect with a partner, friend, or family member by a phone call or text message. To save time remember to tell them what you need. For example, “I need your advice” or “I just need you to listen.”

Prioritize Tasks. If you’re stressed about everything you need to get done, try prioritizing. Create a list of everything you need to do and then identify which are the top priorities and which tasks can wait till the next workday. Every task may seem like a top priority but rarely is this the case. Ask yourself: Which tasks must be completed today? Which tasks can actually wait until tomorrow? Focus on top-priority tasks first before designating time to other tasks. If you are unsure which tasks should be your priorities, ask your employer for feedback.
Mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment, also called mindfulness, can quickly relieve stress. At work, you are likely focusing on many things at once. Use your senses to achieve mindfulness by engaging in this simple exercise:

1) Look around and identify five things that you see around you.
2) Listen and try to identify four sounds that you hear.
3) Using your hands, touch three items around you and notice how they feel.
4) Breathe in the air through your nose and identify two scents that you smell. If you cannot smell anything, put an object close to your nose to distinguish a scent.
5) Identify one taste. It can be a taste that is currently in your mouth or something you can place in your mouth, such as a mint or a drink.

You can remember this exercise by recalling 5-4-3-2-1 (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste). The more senses you use, the better the chance that you will achieve mindfulness.

Relaxing at work can seem like a difficult task but it’s possible. Try these simple skills. If you need help to manage anxiety or work-related stress, contact Symmetry Counseling today by calling our office at (312) 578-9990.