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How To Stay Stress-Free During Your Most Exhausting Workdays

July 07, 2017

At some point, work stress comes for us all. Up to 80 percent of Americans report feeling stressed at work some or all of the time.

Even if you're not chronically stressed at work, you certainly deal with workdays that feel overwhelming every once in a while. The natural response to this heightened workload is stress. The silver lining here is knowing what to expect gives you a chance to prepare and deal with stress better.

So, next time you're anticipating another manic Monday, plan to keep your stress levels in check with these proven tips.

1. Set yourself up for success the night before.

Prep to survive a busy workday in advance. Eat a healthy dinner. Visualize making it through the day successfully. Release anxiety in whatever way works for you (e.g., exercise or journaling). And make sure to get a good night's sleep. Any stressors that come your way tomorrow will be much more manageable if you're well-rested.

2. Leave for work early.

Yes, it sucks to get up even earlier than usual. But if you went to bed early the night before, it won't feel as terrible to leave 30 minutes or so before your usual time. Heading into work early means you'll feel less frantic at the beginning of the workday—and that will help you start the day off on a calmer note.

3. Schedule bursts of positivity.

When you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and tired, your brain is going to track toward negative thoughts. So it's important to counter that negativity throughout the day. Whenever you observe yourself ruminating on the negative, spend a few minutes meditating (or breathing long, slow breaths). Use this time to refocus on a more positive frame of mind. It sounds cheesy, but you could even try smiling—there's evidence that smiling can produce mood-boosting chemicals.

4. Communicate clearly.

When we're stressed, our communication skills go into hibernation. We might shoot off terse emails or snap at coworkers without even realizing it. Paradoxically, effective communication can help relieve stress. No matter how overwhelmed you feel, take time to communicate clearly with your colleagues and clients. This will serve two purposes: It will reduce the chances of miscommunication, which can lead to work delays or productivity snafus that could heighten your stress, and it will foster positivity between you and whomever you're communicating with. These positive interactions can have a mood-boosting effect.

5. Work out.

When you have a busy day, working out might seem close to impossible. But no matter how busy you are, working out is worth it.
Exercising during the workday can boost productivity, improve work performance and time management, increase resilience in the face of work challenges, improve mood, and reduce stress overall. Even if you can't make it to the gym, a short walk outside can help you achieve similar benefits.

6. Seek support.

When we're overwhelmed at work, it's easy to get trapped in our own stressed-out minds. But sometimes stress relief is as close as the
nearest cubicle. You can seek support from coworkers in two ways: By delegating tasks or asking for help with the completion of a project, and by briefly venting about your stress to a trusted colleague. Sometimes a sympathetic ear is all we need to feel uplifted

7. Make plans to recuperate.

Don't just roll into bed at the end of an exhausting workday. First, figure out how you're going to recharge your batteries over the next few days. You might schedule a long lunch break for tomorrow, plan to hit the gym in the morning, or take a half day at the end of the week. If you're overexerting yourself one day, balance out your energy levels by scaling back over the next day or so.

A lot of these tips come down to one central premise: Even when you're overwhelmed—especially when you're overwhelmed—it's important to stay mindful. Giving yourself small bits of breathing room throughout the day will help you avoid getting sucked into stress so you can stay present and focused on your work.

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