How to Transform Your Office into a Stress-Free Zone
Ever felt sick of work? Not just sitting at the desk, but literally ill with a cold or infection after a hard week at the office? Believe it or not, you can blame stress for that. While you might notice deadlines raising your blood pressure, they’ll also raise your temperature, twist your stomach into knots, or lead you to grind your teeth at night.
Stress doesn’t quit when you’re off the clock--it has mental and physical implications on your health. According to The American Institue of Stress, the workplace is the biggest contributor to stress for most adults. 40% of American adults reported their job was “very or extremely stressful,” and a whopping 75% of respondents believe workers now have “more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.”
Workplace stress increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension, and other mental and physical disorders. Plus, who wants to go to a job day after day that brings them stress?
As a leader in the workplace, here’s how you can help manage stress within yourself, and the team at large. Breathe deep, and rest easy with these stress management tools.
Keep Things Comfortable
When people are comfortable, they’re less likely to feel stress. Think about it, would you say you lose patience faster in a flimsy folding chair or a cozy easy chair? Consider investing in high-quality desks and comfortable chairs that encourage productivity and limit physical discomfort.
Other easy changes, like swapping out lighting and maintaining a consistent temperature, can make the office more pleasant to be in--making it less likely for team members to feel stressed when deadlines are looming.
Avoid Office Gossip
Beyond deadlines and general work-related stress, interpersonal conflict among work colleagues can be a huge contributor to anxiety on the job. Oversharing, off-color jokes or too many personal opinions can lead to disagreements and discomfort for co-workers.
As a leader or founder, you may feel drawn to socialize and get to know your team, but be careful what you choose to share. Your actions will set an example to the rest of the team--refraining from gossip, politics, or other touchy subjects can help avoid conflict and added stress.
With gossip all but banished, you can focus on creating a positive community within your workplace. Instead of turning away and shutting down when they feel stressed, teammates should feel comfortable coming to you, or other coworkers, for stress support. Building a community doesn’t mean creating conflict or sharing gossip, it’s a place for creative problem-solving and support.
Creating a supportive office community is much easier said than done. It takes time, intention, and communication, but you can jumpstart the process and create an office support group. At Google, leaders created an in-person and virtual group called gPause, which fosters mindfulness, creative problem solving, and community encouragement.
Borrow a page from Google and help create special interest groups within your team. If employees feel supported, they’ll feel community in the office--which means reduced stress and an outlet to share.
Banish the Sad Desk Lunch
Taking a few minutes out of your day to get away from your desk and clear your head can dramatically lower stress levels in the office. Opting to eat lunch at your desk can actually lower productivity and have negative effects on your health.
Instead of bringing a sad, wilted lunch to your desk each day, encourage team lunches in a meeting room or common space. If that doesn’t jive with office culture, set an example in your office with a daily walkabout around lunchtime. Getting away from your desk and out of your head can work wonders for your mental health.
Make Time for Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are all the rage in terms of workplace buzzwords, but that’s because they work. Studies show that meditation can help resolve disputes in the office, and boost wellbeing across the board. Medically, meditation lowers your heart rate, naturally bringing down stress.
You might not institute a mandatory office meditation center, but you can subtly encourage mindfulness in the office with a meditation room or space where employees are encouraged to spend time, sans technology, taking small breaks. You could also build morale with a meditation lunch and learn or mindfulness sessions before or after the workday for the team.
So much stress comes from daily life in the workplace. The experience of stress might be different from employee to employee, but as a leader or founder on your team, you can help set standards. Set an example; refrain from unnecessary conflicts, create a more comfortable workplace, get some air during the day, and encourage mindfulness in the office. Your team will thank you.