As the working environment continues to change, we will see more of an impact on stress in the workplace. While it is common for most people to feel some sort of stress in their day-to-day lives, dealing with high levels of stress can negatively impact a person's mental, emotional, and physical health. With Covid-19 changing much of our normal daily lives, including how we work, feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation may become overwhelming for employees new to the remote working lifestyle.
With all the talks about remote work being centered around productivity, a more important issue to discuss is how the pandemic is causing stress and anxiety to be accelerated while working from home and isolated from colleagues, friends, and family. This is especially true for those who are used to going to an office and interacting with people every day.
When working in a traditional office environment, there are often noticeable signs if somebody is stressed or having trouble coping with stress. This can be an increased emotional reaction to situations, a lack of engagement, or loss in motivation and productivity. When working from home, there isn’t anybody to notice these signs, apart from family members or friends.
The workplace as we know it is being redefined, and that’s a hard fact for some to understand. However, putting in the effort to make simple changes to your work - and personal life, can make all the difference for adapting to the "new normal". To help put things into a better perspective, here are five ways to manage feelings of stress or anxiety while working from home.
Be vocal about stressful workloads
One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you are new to remote work, is learning to balance and set boundaries. After all, there is no longer a clear line that separates works and home life. Stress is often the result of our personal interpretations of events. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with projects, deadlines, budgets, or even the restructuring of your finances, the emotional shock begins to manifest in your mental and physical responses. When this happens, make it known to those around you that you are in need of support. Email your colleagues, supervisors, or leaders and be vocal about your abilities and resources to meet expectations.
If you are an employer, make sure the workload is suitable for your employee’s abilities and resources. Make it a point to talk to your team about how they are handling their current tasks. Facilitate team meetings where people feel open to sharing any stressful work situations that can be managed with team support. If you are an employee, check in with your colleagues and work together to complete tasks and meet deadlines. We are truly all in this together and speaking up about your needs can help eliminate an incredible amount of stress.
Add some Zen or meditation tunes to your playlists
You can't control everything in your work environment, but you can control how you respond to what’s happening around you. With a little help from a good meditation mix playing while you work, you can get better control over how you respond to work stressors. Meditation, whether by music or silence, is meant to quiet your mind, help you center yourself, shift your focus, and allow you to recharge your personal energy. Soothing music can help create tranquility in an otherwise noisy atmosphere. Invest in your peace of mind and purchase comfortable headphones to use music as a zen guide while you complete your tasks.
Take the practice up a notch by using your dedicated breaks to find a few moments for mindful meditation away from your computer or desk. Mindful meditation is a practice that involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. Taking a few minutes to meditate daily helps relieve stress and increases one’s sense of well-being.
Unplug and get active once the workday ends
The feeling of being busy can often be a trigger of stress. We strive for work-life balance, and just the act of being connected to phones and computers can blur the lines of home and work and make you feel as if you are still obligated to the office. Thoughts about previous tasks or email notifications coming in can intrude into other parts of your day, making you feel exhausted and anxious. Just as your body needs to recuperate after a hard workout, your mind needs time to disconnect from the workday. If you can’t immediately change how much you’re working, you can at least make changes to help you recover from your long days. Being able to control even just some of your time at the end of the day is both liberating and restorative.
Regular physical exercise is also a time-tested way to reduce stress. If you can’t wake up early enough to take a morning run, a 20-minute walk during lunch will help you feel more in control of your mind as well as your body. Memorizing a handful of yoga stretches or participating in family activities are great options for physical activity if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. Take time to properly recover, both mentally and physically, and you’ll be setting yourself up for more productive days, a better work-life balance, and a happier, healthier life.
Make time to socialize with coworkers
Spending time with your co-workers outside of stressful work situations can help you build trusting relationships with one another, and help foster better teamwork. Getting to know your coworkers can also make it easier for you to share when you encounter feelings of anxiety or stress in your workplace. Being there for one another, and knowing that you have the support of people who understand the job, is one way we can reduce the impacts of stressful work environments.
While bars and restaurants are unavailable for after-work gatherings, virtual happy hours and virtual lunches mean you can extend the time you spend with coworkers discussing workloads, talking through issues, or getting to know each other better for at least 30 minutes to an hour each day. You can also join each other for a virtual dinner. Enjoy your favorite meals while chatting about the day, or even live watching a program on TV together. It's a time for everyone to unwind and enjoy some sense of normalcy with company.
Eat well, feel well
Nutrition and stress are connected. When our bodies are poorly fed, stress can take an even greater toll on our physical and mental health. We can help manage our stress by watching what we eat and ensuring that we are eating complete meals daily. Try not to skip meals or graze on unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Skipping meals can make stress-related symptoms worse. Instead, use each mealtime to step away from your desk and enjoy what’s your plate while reflecting on your day or plans post-work. Enjoying regular, filling meals will help to maintain high energy levels and increase your mood, while decreasing tiredness and irritability.
In addition, to eating hearty, nutritious meals, supplements, like Omega 3s, have been shown to help with stress, anxiety, and depression, and Vitamin B6 increases serotonin, which helps regulate our moods to calm and heal. Be cautious to not overconsume highly caffeinated beverages like coffee, energy drinks, or alcohol, as these are stimulants that can increase your feelings of stress and anxiety.
How you deal with stress is a choice. Control stress in your personal and professional life by making better lifestyle choices. Speaking up, unplugging, exercising, and enjoying your free time with friends can help you reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in your daily life, and help you adjust to the changes happening all around us. Work well, eat well, and feel well. Start by giving Big Box a call and we’ll deliver all of your favorite meals to enjoy while you relax and unwind from your workday.