7 Ways to Ease Stress at Work

(Story by Sharon Florentine originally appeared in CIO)

Workplace stress is a fact of life, especially in the IT industry. Keeping that stress to manageable levels can seem like a full-time job in and of itself. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to relax, recharge and rejuvenate, and many of them you can do right at your desk.

Ironically, the same technology that’s causing you undue stress and frustration can also be used to help manage and reduce it. From biometrics and fitness trackers that monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and the number of steps you take each day, to resilience solutions that guide you to stress-reduction resources (like those from Concern and Limeade), technology is playing a huge role in helping workers chill out and relax.
Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, whether you’ve got five minutes or 50. Take some deep breaths and clear your mind in between meetings, or before a particularly stressful phone call. Meditate on the bus or the subway. You can try mantra meditation, where you silently repeat a word or phrase; mindfulness meditation, which focuses on the flow of your breath and on being conscious of the present moment, or some form of meditative movement like Qigong or yoga.
Exercise breaks
Does your workplace have an on-site fitness center? Use it. Is one of your employee benefits or perks a fitness center membership or reimbursement? Take advantage of that. Even a brisk walk around the block, or jogging up and down the stairs instead of taking an elevator can help get the blood flowing and help relax your mind and energize your body.
Tech time-out
It’s hard to manage stress when you’re constantly reading emails, your smartphone’s ringing off the hook, text messages keep flooding in and your to-do list keeps getting longer. Set aside a certain period of time each day for a tech time-out, says Henry Albrecht, CEO of employee wellness solutions company Limeade. Turn off all your electronic devices and focus on something other than a screen. You could even meditate during this time. You’ll be surprised how peaceful it can be.
Curb Caffeine
No one’s suggesting you give up your morning cup of Joe, but cutting down on caffeine intake, or setting a time of day when you stop drinking caffeinated beverages, can help you better manage stress. “Maybe after, say, 2 p.m., avoid anything with caffeine in it. That can affect your sleep later on in the evening, and if you aren’t well-rested, that will add to your stress,” says Albrecht.
Sound sleep
Make sure you’re getting your rest, or you’ll be poorly equipped to manage stress. The general rule is eight hours, but some people function optimally on a little more or less. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. And don’t fall asleep in front of the TV, your tablet or your smartphone, either. Research shows that can affect the quality of your REM sleep and impact your rest.
Fix your finances
Financial issues can affect more than just your credit score – taking care of your financial health is critical to maintaining your overall physical and emotional health, too. If you’re struggling financially, check with your HR department to see if they have financial wellness and planning resources available. Or consult a financial advisor or debt consolidation organization. You should also check out free budgeting technology, like Mint, that can help track your spending.