Fight Back Against Workplace Stress


Stress is a big problem in the workplace, and the signs are everywhere.

Ever awaken at 3 a.m. in a sweaty panic over a work problem, a presentation you have to make, or looming deadline? Maybe you've lost your temper with the kids when the real problem was related to work.

The signs and symptoms of job stress are many and diverse—from a racing pulse to skipped meals, headaches, weight gain, depression, and lack of energy.

Whatever the cause, and however it manifests, workplace stress continues to be a problem—one that can cause reduced productivity, increase in accidents, and a spike in costs.

Stress Stats

The American Psychological Association (APA) observes that, "While stress levels appear to be balancing out, they remain high and exceed what Americans consider to be healthy."

No time to write safety meeting materials? You don't need to with the 50 prewritten safety meeting modules in BLR's Safety Meeting Repros program. All meetings are ready to use, right out of the box.

According to the APA and other sources:

·         69 percent of employees say work is a significant source of stress, and 41 percent say they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday.

·         51 percent of employees report that they have considered or made a decision about their career (such as leaving a job or declining a promotion) based on workplace stress.

·         While more than half of adults say they are doing a good or excellent job of knowing when they feel stressed, half of them aren't doing as well at preventing stress.

·         Although 94 percent of adults believe stress can contribute to the development of major illness, a sizeable majority still thinks that stress has a slight or no impact on their own health.

·         More employees are reporting that their employers provide sufficient opportunities for them to be involved in decision making, problem solving, and goal setting—one hopeful sign, since these are all steps believed to reduce employee stress.

Signs of Stress

As if life outside of the workplace isn't stressful enough for most people, when they come to work, they often encounter more stress—lack of control over work, heavy workloads, productivity demands, tight schedules, conflicts with co-workers, and worries about job stability.

When workers are stressed for any combination of reasons, the effects can be insidious. Dr. Albert Ray, physician director of Patient Education and Health Promotion for Kaiser Permanente in southern California, points to common signs and symptoms of stress:

·         Acting angry and having a short temper

·         Dealing with others in a curt, inhospitable manner

·         Being present, but not fully productive

·         Transformation from a friendly team player to an introvert

·         Mocking the organization's strategies and visions

·         Physical symptoms, ranging from itchy skin to chest pain, fatigue, abdominal cramping, and ringing of the ears, among many others

·         Emotional problems like depression, anxiety, compulsive behavior, and substance abuse

And, of course, another symptom is carelessness. Workers may be too tense or worn out to pay attention and take proper precautions. That's when stress can lead to accidents and injuries.


Stressful Job? How to Find Inner Peace at Work


When you’re having a particularly high-stress day at work (or maybe that’s every day), sometimes you just have to take a minute to do something for yourself.

It’s OK to stop and breathe.

Deep down you might even  the chaos because, well, a job without a challenge can be terribly boring. But in order for you to handle your high-stress job in the best way possible, sometimes you need to just take a minute to regroup.

There are several things you can start doing to help you find peace at work both in the short and long term:

1. Take a Deep Breath

It’s more effective than you might think. says taking a few minutes to inhale and exhale deeply slows down your heart rate and helps you relax. In fact, there are stress hormones in your body that can be removed by deep breathing exercises.  Take breaths when you can, for instance, pause and breathe before you answer that next phone call.

Here’s a breathing exercise you can do right now:

Keep your spine straight throughout the movement. Inhale as you sweep your arms up and exhale as you return them to your sides. Do a total of 5 repetitions.*

2. Write Down your Frustrations


You can’t let go of your stress if you keep it bottled in your mind. Whether it’s anannoyingly competitive coworker or looming deadlines that are bothering you, don’t let your woes bubble up to the point of explosion. Writing down exactly how you feel is one way to unload your frustrations, do something about them and move on.

3. Go for a Jog

It’s the single best way for your body to produce endorphins and significantly reduce your stress level, according to the experts at It may be tough at first, but try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily after or before work.

Have you tried hitting the gym during your lunch hour (or even just a walk around the parking lot)? You’ll come back and finish off your day refreshed, rejuvenated and less stressed. Just remember to take a quick shower afterwards!

4. Practice Minimalism

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” – Confucius

One self-management technique that can also help minimize stress is to try to stop over thinking things. If you have a presentation coming up, you’ll find that if you stick to the bare bones and make your points as concisely as possible, then your colleagues will understand the information much easier — making your presentation more effective.

5. Go to Your Happy Mental Place

For about 60 seconds, stop, close your eyes, and focus all of your five senses to visualize a place that makes you happy. According to, visualization is a great way to “activate your body’s natural relaxation response.” Vividly think about what you’re, seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling and hearing. Then, open your eyes and come back to reality rejuvenated.

6. Try Yoga

This ancient art is meant to increase your self-discipline and push the limits of your determination. By concentrating all of your attention on Yoga poses, you’re able to rid your mind of worries and become more balanced in mind, body and soul.

Best of all, you don’t necessarily have to sign up for classes. Grab a mat after work and check out hundreds of useful Yoga videos with which you can follow along.

7 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Now

By Jane Porter


In 2010, eight years into running her tutoring company, Ann Peaslee was reaching a breaking point. She was taking care of her ailing mother while trying to meet the demands of her business, Lehigh Valley, Pa.-based P.R.E.P. LLC. The web designer she'd hired wasn't following through on plans and Peaslee's ads weren't generating as much business as she'd anticipated. Then, one night during a thunderstorm, her house got struck by lightning, knocking out her business phone line.

To cope with the stress and keep focused, Peaslee began what she calls a "walk and talk" at least once a week. She walked the neighborhood streets with a friend for an hour and talked through whatever had been bothering her. "You are getting rid of your anxiety by just getting it out," she says. "It puts you back in the right perspective."

Incorporating a stress relief routine in your workday requires time and effort. But here are seven quick and easy techniques that may work for you:

1. Count your breath. Taking deep breaths and lengthening your exhale relative to your inhale will calm your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for triggering your fight or flight response, says Timothy McCall, author of Yoga As Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing (Bantam, 2007). Counting the length of your inhale and exhale and gradually lengthening how long you take to exhale will help counter this stress response. If you take four seconds to inhale, for example, work to lengthen your exhale so that it lasts eight seconds. While every person's breath count will be different, taking 10 breaths like this can help calm your mind and body.

Related: 13 Tips to Stay Motivated in the Dog Days of Summer

2. Sing it out. If sitting quietly and counting your breaths sounds impossible or unappealing, you can sing or hum to achieve a similar effect. When you sing or hum, you are naturally lengthening your exhale, which will slow your breathing and help calm you, McCall says. Be sure to breathe in and out of your nose as you do this. If the idea of singing or humming in the office seems silly, do it in your car on the way to work.

3. Drink more water. When your hydration level drops by even 2 percent, your ability to do simple math and make decisions is disrupted, says Mike Collins, founder of the Perfect Workday, a Raleigh, N.C., company that focuses on workplace effectiveness. "The more hydrated you stay, the better you think." Try keeping a pint-sized container of water by your desk that you refill three or four times a day.

Related: 7 Ways You're Wasting Time and Don't Even Know It

4. Do a body scan. Redirecting your focus away from your worries and toward your physical body for a minute or two can help alleviate stress, says Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace, a U.K.-based company that teaches meditation and mindfulness techniques to business professionals. Close your eyes and take half a minute to do a mental scan of your body starting at the top of the head. Notice the sensation of your feet on the floor, your body in your chair and your hands on the desk. Repeat this scan two or three times. Rather than being stuck in your loop of worries, you're turning your attention to the sensations of your body. "By shifting the focus to physical senses, you are stepping out of the thinking mind and bringing the mind into the body, which immediately has a calming effect," Puddicombe says.

5. Keep vacation photos handy. Another way to escape from stressful thoughts is to keep vacation photos or postcards nearby. When you feel stressed, look at an image for a moment, close your eyes and try to imagine all the sensations you were feeling in that place--what you saw, smelled, felt, heard and tasted. This technique will calm you by focusing your attention on the physical sensations of your body as you visualize a particularly relaxing place. "Try to activate each of the five senses," says Margaret Wehrenberg, author of The 10 Best Ever Anxiety Management Techniques (WW Norton 2009). "It's literally the antithesis of stress for a minute."

Related: Six Signs You Need a Break From the Startup Grind

6. Create a ritual. Instead of rushing to grab a cup of coffee or scarfing a snack, make a ritual of it, says Puddicombe. Take the time to notice the sounds, feel and smells of what you're preparing--whether it's a cup of tea or fresh fruit. Such a daily ritual can be soothing, helping you focus on something other than your thoughts, Puddicombe says. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it's something you have positive associations with.

7. Laugh out loud. Humor is the opposite of stress, according to John Morreall, president of Williamsburg, Va.-based Humorworks, which focuses on using humor in team-building exercises and other workplace activities. "In a stressful situation, you are emotionally engaged with some problem," he says. "When you laugh at a situation, you are distanced from the problem." To find relief in humor, Collins watches a YouTube video of a flash mob in Moscow dancing to "Puttin' on the Ritz." That never fails to make him laugh.



Having trouble figuring the return on investment (ROI) from your wellness program? A report by HRmorning suggests examining these five factors:

  • Sick days
  • Stress
  • Presenteeism
  • Health care utilization
  • Employee satisfaction

A solid program will decrease the first four of the above items and bump up the last, the report noted. The report noted that a $3 to $4 return for every $1 spent on wellness is a common benchmark for wellness ROI.