10 strategies for managing work-related stress

Stress is a normal part of the office, but too much can be counterproductive. Imagine how much more exciting it would be to arrive at your desk in the morning if only you could reduce work-related stress. Use these ten strategies to your benefit.

10 strategies for managing work-related stress

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1. Schedule tough tasks smartly

Most of us know the time of day when we're most productive – some of us come alive at 4 p.m., while others are at their best in the earliest hours of the day.

  • Whenever possible, schedule your most important work tasks during your most productive, alert times. When you're grumpy or in an unproductive slump, answer low-priority e-mails and do your filing.

2. Break down big projects

The best way to tackle major projects is with small, doable steps.

  • When you're facing a huge project and don't know where to begin, make a to-do list of smaller milestones that need to be met and give yourself a deadline for completing each one.
  • Each day, pick out a task that you'll finish to make sure you accomplish something towards your goal.

3. Take a few minutes to chat

Successful work relationships often depend on appreciating the other person. That's much easier to do if you get to know them a bit on a personal level.

  • Build a few minutes into your morning routine in which you spend a little social time with colleagues.

4. Cultivate work friends

You know it instinctively – and science has proven it – that friends make life less stressful. It's a great idea to cultivate a friend or two at work.

  • Having social support at work is associated with lower blood pressure during the workday and also with smaller increases in blood pressure during those times when work problems boil to a head.

5. Walk every day during lunch

Just 10 minutes of brisk walking could help lower your blood sugar and will burn about 50 calories.

  • Instead of chatting with co-workers after you're done eating, slip on your workout shoes and invite them to join you for a walk around the building.
  • If the weather's bad, walk up and down the office stairs. It'll also do wonders for your soaring stress levels!

6. Try desk aromatherapy

Some studies show that pleasing, natural smells relieve stress, especially when the scents are associated with positive memories.

  • Scents best known for their stress-reducing qualities include lavender, ylang ylang, geranium, lemon and chamomile.
  • Fill a dish on your desk with potpourri, bring in a scented candle (but don't light it), or buy a fresh bouquet of flowers and place them in a vase on your desk every Monday.

7. Bring in green plants

Studies find that plants significantly boost workers' happiness — and the act of watering them can provide a brief, quiet moment of calm during a hectic day.

  • Choose plants that will survive well indoors and are relatively care-free.

8. Get inspirational messages

Sign up for a free service that regularly sends you motivational messages to help you with weight loss, exercise or healthy eating. Just remember to sign up through a personal e-mail account that you can access from your work computer, and anywhere else, rather than using your work account.

  • Reading these messages during your lunch hour or afternoon break can give you an encouraging boost that lasts the rest of the day.

9. Give yourself a pat on the back

When you've completed a goal, tell yourself what a good job you've done – and mean it.

  • Praise is often in short supply on the job, so when you have a chance to praise yourself, take it. You'll get a burst of energy and confidence that will help you weather whatever storms the day has in store.

10. Pat others on the back, too

Don't hesitate to give praise, recognition or even a simple compliment to colleagues when appropriate.

  • Making someone else feel good makes you feel good, too. What's more, some day he or she may return the favour when you're in need of a few kind words of encouragement.
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