1. Do Deep-Breating Exercises
“Breathing deeply help you calm and centre yourself so you can observe what is happening inside and outside you, and respond appropriately to it,” says Julia Ng, a professional certified coach at Executive Coach International. “It allows you to slow down enough to notice that your body is tensing up and spot triggers that can cause you to do something drastic, so you can do something about it.”
2. Organise Your Work Space
Neuroscientists at Princeton University in the United States found that clutter at your office desk decreased performance and increased stress. There’s nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with inspirational things, says Julia. But when you have too many items around you, they start competing for your attention. Clutter takes up mental and emotional space, overloads your senses and impairs your ability to process information and focus. “So clean your desk, throw away things you no longer need and organise your files can help you feel more clearer and more settled.” The key lies in creating the space that offers the right amount of stimulation to do your job well.
3. Hang Out With Supportive Colleagues
Gossipy, back-stabbing colleagues are stressful – they sap your energy and fill your mind with negative thoughts. Tracy Chong, principal career coach at Passions Work, advises being around co-worker you find positive and supportive. “These people will help and encourage you, and inspire you to do your best work, unlike toxic ones, who are only concerned about dwelling on problems in the office,” she says.
4. Be Grateful
A person with a victim mentality is constantly complaining and laying blame as she feels powerless about her situation or life, says Julia. She even makes things out to be worse than they actually are, which adds to unnecessary stress. Choose to be in a more empowered position. “For example, be grateful for the challenge in front of you instead of complaining that it’s too much work and too difficult. You could also be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow instead of complaining that your boss gives you brutally honest feedback. Being grateful is about saying yes to life.”
5. Learn To Say No
Tracy says you’ll be surprised at how saying “no” can help you manage your stress levels at work. If you agree to take on more than you can handle, you will feel overwhelmed and burn out. “Learn to say no right from the start. Otherwise, let your boss or colleagues know that you will check your schedule and get back to them. If what they’re requesting can’t be done, let them know and explain why.”
In this fast-paced world there’s often no getting away from multi-tasking. But studies show that when you multi-task, you end up not doing anything particularly well as your focus is divided. Julia suggests prioritising your tasks and giving each one your full attention before moving onto he next one. “Many ‘urgent’ tasks take us away from more important long-term objectives. Some urgency is good to give us a boost in performance, but too much adrenaline creates more stress. The reality is not everything is urgent or necessarily important, so plan what’s important, not urgent,” she says.
7. Take Regular Breaks
“It’s better to have a long and fulfilling career that is sustainable rather than moving full-steam ahead, only to realise later that you cannot keep up with the pace,” says Tracy. “What’s the point of making it up to the top of the career ladder and have poor health?” Tracy suggests taking breaks every 30 to 45 minutes. Take a walk down the hallway, have some tea or coffee, do some simple stretching at your desk or chat with your colleague, just to break away from your work routine.
8. Cut Out Interruptions
It’s hard to get work done if you keep getting interrupted. This can leave you feeling like you’ve lost control over your schedule. List your most common distractions and figure out how to eliminate, minimise or get around these time-wasters. For instance, if you need some peace and quiet because you need to get something important done, Tracy suggests booking a separate meeting room and letting your colleague know you are unavailable for a couple of hours.
Text: Sasha Gonzales, Simply Her, January 2016 / Additional Reporting: Sylvia Ong