Four Science-Backed Strategies To Bust Work Stress
You’ve been spending late nights at the office, trying to get through the mountain of work piled up on your desk. Plans with friends and family have to be postponed indefinitely because you’re trying to prepare for that important meeting, and you’ve become best friends with the delivery guy from the restaurant near your office because he brings you almost all your meals.
Does this situation sound familiar? You’re probably not the only one—this highly stressful scenario makes up a normal workday for a lot of working professionals. If you let office stress get the better of you, it’ll affect not only your performance at work but your physical and mental health as well. Here’s what you can do to keep it in check.
1. Bike To Work
Some people like to drive their own cars while others prefer public transport, but researchers from Concordia University have found that biking to work will help lower stress levels for employees before they even arrive at the office! A study entitled ‘Cycling, car, or public transit: a study of stress and mood upon arrival at work,’ involved 123 employees at a Canadian information technology company. It only used data from those who responded within 45 minutes of arriving at work, thus allowing researchers to hone in on workers who were still feeling the effects of the commute. Perceived mood, stress, and ways of work travel were assessed and their findings were published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management in September 2016.
“Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” said lead author Stéphane Brutus in an official press release. Not only can biking to work help with your stress, but it’s also a cost-effective way to commute to work and good for your health as well. “With growing concerns about traffic congestion and pollution, governments are increasingly promoting non-motorised alternative modes of transport, such as walking and cycling,” adds Brutus. “I can only hope that further studies will follow our lead and develop more precise and deliberate research into this phenomenon.”
2. A Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep is the ideal end to any day, but especially a long, hard day at the office, reveals a Michigan State University study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in August 2017. The research involved data from two studies in which the authors observed a total of 235 workers from China. The first study involved information-technology workers who felt they were managing heavy workloads while the second study included participants who worked at call-centres and reported feeling stress from customer calls.
The researchers found that although work-related stress was directly related to poor diet in the participants, they ate better even after stressful days on the job if they enjoyed a good night’s sleep the night before. “A good night’s sleep can make workers replenished and feel vigorous again, which may make them better able to deal with stress at work the next day and less vulnerable to unhealthy eating,” explained co-author Chu-Hsiang Chang.
3. Laughter Is The Best Medicine
We’re all aware of the health benefits laughter has to offer, but this is one you might not have heard of before. A study conducted by researchers at the Australian National University and published in the Journal of Business and Psychology in May 2018 found that a bit of workplace humour is an ideal way to deal with stressful situations at work.
While conducting research into the widespread problem of workplace aggression and bullying, lead researcher Dr David Cheng said the results of his research show humour can be used to reduce the negative impact of aggression. “While obviously, the best solution to workplace aggression is to stamp out the poor behaviour, our research shows if something stressful does happen to you at work, a bit of laughter can help," he said.
4. Take A Stand
Your job might see you seated at your desk for hours on end, but your diligence is playing havoc with your health. Instead, scientists recommend standing up and walking around periodically as a means to boost productivity and reduce stress. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health in October 2017 highlighted the importance of moving around while at work.
“We found people who use activity-promoting desks were more able to focus on urgent tasks, avoid non-urgent tasks and manage stress better than people sitting at a desk all day,” said lead researcher Nicholas Gilson. “The workers who used sit-stand or walking desks allocated attention most effectively.” You might win Employee of the Year if you stay glued to your desk all day, but you’re not doing your health any favours!