10 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress at Work
A difficult client, a fuming boss, a tight deadline – these are some of the many possible occasions that can make your stress levels soar while you are at work. Needless to say, to find a solution to your problem, being stressed out won’t help you move forward. You need to regain your calm, think clearly, define actionable steps and overcome the problem bit by bit.
Moreover, we all know that stress is essentially bad for us, and has damaging effects on our long term health. Keeping calm and carrying on is more than just a popular internet meme – it’s a skill we all should learn to master.
We are wired to react in a “fight or flight” way, but a grumpy person on the subway is simply not as life-threatening as an approaching lion in our prehistoric days. For this reason, we need to learn to control our reaction to stressful situations and adapt to our modern times that are filled to the brim with stress.
Whenever you are faced with a situation that can make your adrenaline and cortisol levels spike and your heart pound too quickly, there are a number of actions you can take to bring your stress levels down. None of these actions require more than 15 minutes, and most of them require a simple change in mindset or location, but all of these help you break out of the vicious circle of being faced with stress at work and reacting like a hamster on a wheel.
1. Go for a walk
If you can disappear from your cubicle for a few minutes, head outside and walk around the block. You’ll get some fresh air in your lungs and fresh thoughts in your mind. Did you know that Mandela used to go for a walk every morning to think through the upcoming day?
2. Listen to calming music
Pop your earphones, and listen to some calming music: classical music, new age, post rock – whatever brings you in that blissful state of relaxation.
3. Follow a short guided meditation
Turn your chair towards a window, or -if all else fails- hide in the bathroom for a few minutes, and listen to a guided meditation on your computer, smartphone or MP3 player. There are many smartphone apps that contain enjoyable guided meditations that can help you bring your zen back.
4. Watch pictures of kittens or puppies
You might think that watching internet memes of cute kittens is a waste of your time or a guilty pleasure, but there’s actually some benefit in watching these adorable young pets. Research suggest that watching kittens or puppies can reduce your stress levels.
5. Have a warm drink
Research suggests that we see other people as more sympathetic when we hold a warm drink as compared to when we hold a cold drink. Moreover, taking the time to get yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee can be that little bit of comfort you need during a difficult moment.
6. Do a few stretches to get your blood circulating
Refresh your thoughts by doing some quick physical activity. Check out a yoga sequence for your office to twist your spine, or do a few jumping jacks and wall push-ups. Any activity that breaks the rut of overthinking the problem that causes stress in the first place, will have a (temporary) positive effect.
7. Stop by the cubicle of a befriended coworker
Talk to a friend about the situation that upsets you, get a pat on your shoulder or hug when you need it, and feel that heavy weight getting relieved from your chest. A situation can look much less intimidating once you discussed it over with a trustee.
8. Watch your urge, and let it go
Zen masters teach us to sit through our discomfort, to simply watch our urge to start frantically running around, smile, and let it go. Don’t follow your monkey-mind or reptilian mid-brain and blindly follow your first instinct. Instead, watch your urge to react then think if your reaction is correct and if this will bring you a step closer to the solution.
9. Take a time-out in a quiet room
If the general buzz in your office adds to your stress-levels, then seek out a quiet place (for example, an empty meeting room or your library) away from the situation and come back to your inner peace. Being away from a stressful environment of an office and enjoying a more peaceful location can do wonders to your stress-levels.
10. If you are pressed for time: take three deep breaths before reacting
If a reaction is expected from you right away, then allow yourself at least the time to take three breaths before acting or replying. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm to calm your mind and body. Singers, babies and yogis all know the benefit of abdominal breathing. Teach yourself this skill, as it offers an emergency time-out whenever and wherever you need it.
The Unspoken Rules of Calling in Sick
It all starts innocently enough—first a sniffle, then a tickle in your throat, then before you know it, you’ve been knocked out by whatever nasty bug happens to be making the office circuit. But, while your body may be begging you to stay home, those piles of work on your desk (and maybe even your boss) are suggesting otherwise.
So, what do you do? Should you load up on whatever non-drowsy cold medicine is rolling around in the dark recesses of your junk drawer and suck it up, or keep your germs at home and let the bug take its course, sparing your colleagues the same fate?
Taking time off is tricky business, especially when it’s an unplanned day like a sick day. While there’s no guarantee you’ll convince your boss and colleagues you’re better off at home, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the blowback the next time you’re feeling lousy.
Know the Rules (Hint: They’re Not in the Employee Handbook)
I’m willing to bet most of us with a standard 9-to-5 have sick days or personal time off as a part of our benefits package. And, while technically, sure, you’re allowed to use those days, actually taking them is often strongly discouraged by managers, either explicitly (“I can’t believe Susan is taking another sick day”), or implicitly (no one has called in sick since the days of H1N1). On the other hand, let’s be honest: No one wants to get what you have.
Here’s how to get around this Catch 22: Before you come down with something this season, pay close attention to how your boss and colleagues react to others when they call in sick. Does your boss immediately start bad-mouthing someone as soon as she finds out he or she is staying home? Does she make comments about so-and-so always being out sick? And what’s her notification preference? Some bosses (myself included) found it unprofessional for employees to send an email without a follow-up phone call, while others preferred sticking to email in order to avoid a Ferris Bueller-like performance over the phone (trust me, even if you really are sick, it always sounds a bit staged).
Take note of what’s earned one colleague sympathetic get well wishes and another snide remarks, and you’ll be better prepared to approach your boss when you need a few days in bed.
Take Your Team’s Temperature
When you’re sick, you know it. But while you may feel like crap (and think you look as bad as you feel), your colleagues probably won’t realize it—and may be blindsided when you need to take a day off.
Dropping little hints as soon as you start feeling something coming on is a great way to test their reactions. A casual comment that you’re feeling a bit run-down is a good start. See how your team responds—are they sympathetic, or do they start freaking out because you all have a deadline in a few days? Make no mistake, I’m not suggesting their reaction should deter you from staying or going home, but knowing how they’ll respond when you pack it in will help you better prepare for your absence—not to mention give them a little advanced warning, too.
Keep in mind, though, you can overdo this pretty easily. We’ve all had that colleague who’s always sick, getting sick, or paranoid about getting sick. No one likes to hear someone complain all the time—and if you do, the chances of anyone taking you seriously when you really are under the weather are nil.
Make it Easy
While you can’t control how your team will react to your absence, you can control the condition your outstanding work is in before you leave. Of course, getting sick rarely happens on a neat schedule—and that means you essentially always need to be prepared for the “hit by a bus” scenario.
I’ve worked for both large and small companies, but each role has had its own unique quirks that only I knew how to handle, which meant I always had to be prepared for the unlikely event I was hit by a bus (or, er, got the flu). To do this, I’ve always kept a list of tasks that required more of my time, caused me more grief, or elicited a few more colorful words than my regular duties, and complied detailed instructions on how to handle such situations. I keep these printed out and clearly labeled in a binder on my desk, visible to everyone, and have a version saved in a shared folder everyone can access.
Keep the binder and folder updated, and make sure your team knows it exists. Then, if you do have to hide under the covers for a few days, you’ll know your team won’t have to pull their hair out trying to figure out how to run that complicated report that drove you to drink before you figured out how to do it. Prepare well in advance and keep your work organized, and you’ll take the sting out of covering for you while you’re recuperating.
Lastly, and most importantly, once you’ve prepared for a few days of recovery out of the office, it’s time to unplug and focus on getting better. The best thing you can do for your team is get back to your rock star self as soon as possible. Don’t you feel better already?
What is the living wage as an annual salary
We don’t publish the Living Wage as an annual salary as the requirement is that the Living Wage is paid for each hour worked.
You can work out the annual salary by calculating Living Wage x hours worked per week x 52.
For example the UK Living Wage as an annual salary might be £8.25 x 38 x 52 = £16,302 and the London Living Wage as an annual salary might be £9.40 x 38 x 52 = £18,570.40
Where a salary calculation is used the Living Wage must also be paid for each hour of overtime worked.