Clearing the fog
Working hard is usually a matter of strict discipline. Putting your head down, churning out work, getting as much done as you can, as quickly as possible, until you can’t do any more. Working well is something a little deeper. It requires paying more attention to your surroundings. It’s about improving your wellbeing as well as the quality of your work. It means keeping your mind and body in check rather than wearing them out every day.
The majority of people in the UK’s workforce suffer from stress. Many even consider it a routine part of their working lives. It can be tempting to power through this thick fog of stress every single day. Paying no mind to its long-term effects, making no effort to tackle it at the root.
But we’re interested in clearing the fog. Questioning the way we think and the things we do, capitalising on our strengths and combatting our weaknesses. This is what we mean by working well.
It doesn’t take drastic lifestyle changes to reduce workplace stress. Nor does it take thirty-step plans and complex exercise routines. In fact, the answers are often quite small and immediate. Small changes add up fast. They accumulate into big revelations and all new perspectives. Enjoy a relaxed and focussed mind. Take pleasure and pride in the work you do. Leave work feeling accomplished and happy. Fall asleep with a sense of fulfillment looming over your head. Clear the fog, eliminate stress, regain control, but first things first…
Take a step back
Contrary to popular belief, workplace stress is not confined to the office. It’s difficult to leave workplace stress at the door when you leave for home. It’s hard to put your feet up at the end of the day and let your stress disappear into the night. Having simply originated at work, the stress often spreads into other areas of life and affects your general wellbeing outside the office.
Sometimes you just need to look at the bigger picture.
When dealing with workplace stress, the first step is backwards. It requires having a long hard think about which aspects of your working life cause stress. Do you take on too many projects at once? Are you placed under extreme pressure on a daily basis? Is there a particular person at work causing you problems? Are you fundamentally unhappy with what you do for a living? These are scary questions that your mind tends to resist asking. Now is the time.
It takes a clear idea of why you’re feeling stressed from work to start making changes to how you work. Often, it’s these small moments of reflection that lead to those big life decisions.
Long… deep… breaths…
Breathing is all about rhythm, and rhythm brings order to your life. Staying attuned to the natural rhythms of your body keeps you grounded and calm. It draws you into yourself and temporarily narrows your focus to a pinpoint. It turns down the volume on unnecessary stress, so that you can hear the things that matter.
Proper breathing isn’t just for yoga classes and singing lessons. Whether sitting at your desk or standing on the tube, we can all benefit from taking a few deep breaths. Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it briefly, and then exhale through your mouth for five seconds.
Breathing in this way has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve your brain, heart, immune system, and digestive system. Next time you experience overwhelm in the office, remember to find your rhythm.
Control what you can
A sense of calm results from having control and knowing where you stand. But stress is borne out of situations that are both unpredictable and uncontrollable. These situations present themselves most in busy working environments.
Perhaps you attach too much significance to those things outside of your control. This can run you down, making you feel helpless and incompetent in moments where your agency is limited. To regain control, change your perspective.
Reposition yourself toward those aspects within your control to reduce the bite of daily pressures. If you cannot control something, then so be it. You can’t stop another person from interrupting your workflow. You can’t control the temper of an unruly customer. But you can control your response to these situations. Let go of your guilt, and focus on your achievements. Your time and energy is always better spent on problems that you can actually solve.
The nutritional factor
A healthy diet is bound up with a healthy mind. Basic nutritional rules aren’t hard to grasp, and they’re very fulfilling to live by. Foods and drinks that are good for you will get you through the working day easier. There are plenty of studies that link healthy eating to a reduction in workplace stress. Good food gives us good energy, and good energy means good work.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, introduce more low-fat and low-sugar foods into your lunchbox, find a good balance in your diet. Make some simple changes: cut sugar out of your tea, use seeded bread, buy salads at lunch. You already know these things… now it’s time to apply them. Expect to feel happier, work better, and focus more when you do so.
Declutter both desk and mind
Having a neat and organised desk will make a huge difference to the way you feel at work. Spending around eight hours a day in a chaotic and cluttered space can take a toll on your concentration. Spending the same amount of time around clean surfaces will promote moments of clarity and inspiration.
Research has shown that having a cluttered environment results in both stress and an inability to work effectively. Look at your desk and ask yourself some simple questions. What stuff do you need and what stuff don’t you need? Why do you still have all those post-it notes from six months ago? Do you really need all that old paperwork?
Decluttering your desk space works as a physical manifestation of decluttering your headspace. Parting with unnecessary items translates into letting go of counterproductive thoughts and streamlining your work ethic. This makes you feel happier every day. Give your mind some space to think by giving your body some space to work.
Uncommon cares about how you feel at work. Our workspaces are designed with your wellbeing in mind. Every single detail helps create an environment in which you can feel good about where and how you work. From lighting and noise levels to ergonomics and air quality. Visit our locations in Borough, Highbury & Islington, and Fulham to experience our unique vision of working life.