If you’re working in an environment that creates stressors, it’s important to know how you can diffuse them, or even prevent them. Whether you’re working in an office or a healthcare setting, it is helpful to have different strategies about how to protect your mind and body from stress, and that’s why we’ve done some research and brought you five top tips from business psychologist Dr Sharon Melnick for relieving stress at work.
Tip #1: Act rather than react
Dr Melnick suggests that we experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control. This activates our stress hormone and could wear down confidence, well-being, and concentration. She advises us to identify what part of the situation we can control, and what part(s) we can’t. Generally, we’re in control of our actions and responses, but not of someone else’s, so we should focus on ourselves and be our best rather than reacting to others’ behaviour that we cannot control.
Tip #2: Take a deep breath
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, coming out of a stressful meeting, or just had a heated moment with a colleague or patient, Dr Melnick advises that it helps to clear your head with deep breathing. All you need to do is inhale for five seconds, hold, and exhale in equal counts through the nose. She says “It’s like getting the calm and focus of a 90-minute yoga class in three minutes or less”.
Tip #3: Schedule your day for energy and focus
Many of us have a schedule, and if you have the ability, Dr Melnick says that you should schedule regular breaks throughout the day and organize or prioritize your work accordingly. If we go through our day with the mentality that we need to push through everything, productivity goes down and stress levels rise with little energy to continue in a way that is healthy. She advises to schedule short, regular breaks for walking, stretching, or doing a breathing exercise.
Tip #4: Cool down quickly
As Dr Melnick notes, when you feel angry or frustrated, you get a heated feeling that causes you to react. Rather than immediately reacting (or overreacting), she suggests trying a “cooling breath” technique that involves breathing through your mouth (as if you’re sipping through a straw) and then breathe out normally through your nose. She says that it gives you a moment to think about your response, thereby also giving you time to cool down before reacting.
Tip #5: Regulate your blood pressure
Should you be the kind of person that begins to panic and become short of breath before an important moment (for example, before giving a presentation or tending to an emergency), Dr Melnick suggests that you try a technique that can enable you to reduce your anxiety. This can be done by positioning your thumb on the side of your middle finger and applying some pressure. This can help to almost regulate your blood pressure instantly and thereby calming you down.
There are various other ways that stress can be alleviated or prevented, but we’ve found these to be particularly useful. If you’re aware of others that may be helpful, please reach out to us!