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Ten ways to beat workplace stress

Monday, August 25, 2014
Beat workplace stress. Photo: Getty Images
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By Hannah Nicholas
MSN NZ Money writer

Stressed-out from your job? There's no getting away from it — workplace stress is a fact of life these days, but to stop it getting on top of you, follow our tips.

1. Laugh
It might sound simplistic, but sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. Share a joke with colleagues or do something to make you laugh out loud every now and then.

2. Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, wellbeing and stress levels. Start an office lunchtime touch or soccer team, or hit the pavement, pool, or gym for a lunchtime session and watch your work troubles melt away.

3. Try stress-relieving techniques
Think yoga, meditation, essential oils, massage or simply keeping a stress ball in your desk drawer.

4. Look after your physical health
Healthy body, healthy mind. Your physical health should always be your number one priority. If you're not in shape physically, it will affect all areas of your life — including your performance at work and your ability to tolerate stress. Exercise, provide fuel for your body by eating regularly and healthily, and take time out to relax.

5. Take a holiday
Most of us are allocated four weeks' annual leave each year under our employment contracts, but the majority of New Zealand workers rarely take it. Remember, it's there for a reason: to provide you with some much-needed R&R, so book a trip. The knowledge that you'll soon be hitting the beach or the hiking trail somewhere remote or exotic can also help you get through tough times in the office.

6. Get some sleep
The average person needs eight hours of pure, uninterrupted sleep a night and without it you could be running on adrenaline, craving caffeine and sugar to keep you alert — all which can up your stress levels.

7. Limit the overtime
Work smarter not harder. As much as you can, stick to your normal working hours. This will improve your work/live balance by allowing you time to wind down from your day and spend time with your loved ones, flatmates or family.

8. Enjoy the weekends
Make sure you take time out on the weekends to do what you enjoy. Switch off from work — turn off your mobile and don't check your e-mails — and try to let work stress dissolve for those precious two days a week.

9. Create a pleasant work environment
Make sure your desk has a little bit of "you" to remind you of your life and loves outside of the office. Include photos, postcards, flowers, pot plants and any other knick-knacks to brighten up your work space.

10. Look for a new job
If you've tried all these things and you're still stressed at work, maybe you're just not happy where you are and it's time to move on. Finding a new job could boost your confidence — and ultimately be the key to overcoming your stress levels.

User comments
I once had it explained to me this way. You cannot in the english language suffer from "stress" per se. It is grammatically impossible. You are able, however, to suffer from overwork, work pressures, tight deadlines, unreasonable demands etc etc (the list goes on). These "actual" things give rise to "stress". In other words, stress is the result, not the cause. Therefore, look for and be aware of the initiators or csuses and deal with them NOW. In that way you will not suffer the result which is stress. OK, so I am picky but it's wonderful how isolating and defining cause from effect can go a long way to resolution. Try it at least before you suffer further.
I have dealt with stress in my work situation by ensuring I do not take work home on the weekends and that I am honest with my immediate manager and I have told him he will only get a certain number of hours a week from me and that I spend as much time as I can with my family. If I seem to be slowed down in producing reports or providing information to him then it is up to him to ensure I have the resource to assist me. My life is more important to my family than it is to my work place as I am easily replaced. I am irreplaceable as a father and husband. Become more selfish in your wants and needs and be honest with yourself. Practice this at work as for me it empowers me and produces great results at work and home.
I have just finished reading everyones comments on this topic. Thanks to all..But the problem is, the business culture in NZ, is crazy Everything is actioned, so slow..When we are at work we try and impress, by multitasking, and over doing, yet not much is achieved, its all numbers....The pace of NZ, also plays on the stress at work. These companies are moduled with overseas paced systems in the way things are done - but its custom, its statistics based. Good example is small businesses... Your a small business, stop over working and over doing things, invest in some help - and learn about pace, and reality! With the big firms, its all fight and bash for the best spots on the ladder. Again its about the pace.... The only problem is with both these concepts is based around technology. We don't have the technology here in New Zealand to match our business work culture....
Been there, had that (stress) ,done that!! People don't mind working hard generally, but bad work ethics by management,supervisors and owners, can lead inevitably to worker stress.The reverse can also apply - As someone said earlier, laughter can relieve a lot of pressure - I agree, and the key factor is communication - both upward and downward - talk about any problems! If the upper echelons are well trained, they will respond accordingly, and hopefully, everyone will benefit!! If the upper echelons do not have these skills,they are probably not worth working for, so start looking for another job. Loyalty to your employer and your job must work both ways - if it does, a stress free work place is usually the result!! I have worked in a place where I hated every living minute there. I have also worked in a place where management and owners were superb and very loyal to their staff - i worked there for 10 years!!!!
I agree with the solutions to stress, however I also believe the main cause is our attitude and communication skills. I work in the retail industry, where alot of the stress is people related - such as people being sick or not showing up for thier shifts, the majority of staff are school students, therefore the load is carried by the others who do front up. Management dictate what we are to do, but they forget that teenagers do not have the communication skills to voice thier feelings or say what they really think. Some people get themselves so wound up in thier minds that they may vent in ways not appropriate, which becomes so foul to others that instead of facing the issue, they gossip about that person thereby adding more misery to the workplace. To combat it I pray for the help I need during the day to be able to do a good days work, so I can work in peace and harmony with everyone I come into contact with. At night I pray again and am thankful for what has happened good or bad
I was happy in my job then was told im getting a casual contact next season (work in tourism) but hear that the staff on work visa's are getting another type off contact that means they get all the work and the kiwi staff get causal work, where are we going wrong. Why is a locally owned company not looking after there kiwi staff!!!! STRESS IS A WORD WE UNDER STAND WELL.
Its all well saying here some techniques to reduce stress at work. Dont get me wrong number 1 is a very powerful one and works but youve also got to consider the causes. Yes its easy to get away from them but there are going to be times when you will also have to come back to them. This could be in for the form of problems with a customer, boss or outside inflences like relationships and currently, money problems or maybe even facing redundancy. The fact of the matter is that problems wont just go away and there are many of us ( myself included ) who have buried their heads in the sand hoping that it would all just blow over. Its time for a wake up call. Things wont change unless YOU deal with them. There is a time for wallowing in self doubt, pity and winding yourself up going over and over what could or could not be done. As long as you have taken steps to resolve the issues as far as you can then in theory you should be able to let it go. Tackle the problem then relax..
There are a lot of small business owners who also are dealing with stress, some are caused by staff, yet there is no stress leave for them. The added stress to them is sometimes huge, especially as some staff seek stress leave as a means to just take time off work and get paid for it. How do you prove you have stress at work, most just go to the Doctors and they write out a certificate and the employer of small business's has to find the money to pay them. Its a catch 22 really, they sometimes have to pay for stress leave when the stress is not from work, even about work, its on the home front, yet the employer pays. Employers pay even the first week as it can be taken from the first week of sick leave. Its an obligation of employers to ensure that staff take their annual leave, however a lot of staff don't put aside the money to take a break when they are told to take leave, so don't want to take time off work.
Yes, in this day and age I feel ppl don't know when to stop, and possibly think about health, and what stress does to your health. It effects many ppl in many different ways. The list would just be too long to list. But paid stress leave would make a huge difference to those that need it. Not only does work stress pll, but also dramas out side of work. ppl, stop and find ways to unwind, meditate or go for a walk- fresh air can do wonders! Connect with the earth again, grow some veges and don't stress about how much they cost at the supermarket! If you don't have your health, you have nothing.
Be greatful you have a job and don't sweat the small stuff .Learn to say no to extra work firmly but politely and if you are feeling pressured say so to the one who asks.