Stress from work, even under normal circumstances, is inevitable. While certain individuals thrive in high-stress environments, the majority of working professionals view stress as a hindrance. It affects focus, physical well-being, and impedes productivity. Though in recent months, society has experienced a paradigm shift in the workforce. Essential workers in healthcare and the food industry are on the frontline of chaos; traditional office employees must adjust to work-from-home policies and balance the intersection of their professional and home life. Per a recent post by Bloomberg, Americans now working remotely are logging an additional three hours per day, a 40% spike compared to the same time in 2019. It’s no wonder that stress levels have skyrocketed and permeated all lifestyle types.
In the buzz of the business world, it can be difficult to achieve harmony and maximize productivity. As a goal-oriented personal trainer and yoga instructor, Jolene Cherry emphasizes balance in her teaching techniques. She believes it’s not only possible to cope in stressful situations, but thrive.
Below, Jolene Cherry shares five tips to improve clarity, concentration, boost productivity, and reduce stress.
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
Acute stress is often a reaction to an external trigger, such as a stressful event either at work or at home. While certain circumstances remain beyond our control, we can actively influence several elements that can have a positive effect on our well-being.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in three adults doesn’t get ample sleep. On average, the American adult sleeps approximately 6.8 hours per night, which is below the recommended 7 hours or more per night for health and well-being. Whether your sleep pattern is affected by a frenetic lifestyle, caffeine intake, or insomnia, you must develop a system to slip into a peaceful groove of dreams amid deep or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Designing your bedroom to evoke tranquility can help you unwind at the end of the day and, over time, train your subconscious mind to relax once you slip under the covers.
Likewise, it’s vital to set up a work environment, either at the office or home, that speaks to your personality, calms your nerves, and is devoid of distractions. Don’t be afraid to experiment to discover what works best for you. Several people respond to musical surroundings, while others prefer the silence of houseplants. There is no wrong or right way as long as you feel comfortable and motivated within that space.
2. Make a List
Perhaps your mind is wired at night, calculating the leftover baggage from today and the ever-extending to-do list for tomorrow, or you feel paralyzed by the tasks that lie ahead. Either way, polishing your organization skills can drastically improve your workday.
An ideal organizational system includes a to-do-list for each day. You can incorporate software, a digital calendar, or keep it old school with pen and paper. Set aside time each evening to collect your thoughts, review accomplishments, and prioritize the schedule for tomorrow. This will also serve as a brain jettison and help you relax.
For ongoing or larger projects, divide the deliverables into manageable pieces. As you complete each subtask, you’ll feel invigorated with a sense of accomplishment. It also makes goal tracking easier.
Instead of slaving over a single task for hours on end, set a timer and work on each project for 60 minutes. Then take a 15-20 minute break to stretch your legs, go outside or eat a snack before diving back into the fold. At the end of the workday, you will have made progress on several projects and feel productive.
Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine as well. Physical activity can help lower resting heart rate, manage blood pressure, increase energy levels throughout the day, and improve problem-solving abilities.
How often do we take our smartphone to bed with us? Guilty as charged. Supercomputers literally within the palm of our hands is an amazing technological accomplishment, but it does have its downsides. Not only do smartphones create distractions during prime business hours, but they also encourage an “always-on” mentality. Communicate with your employer or employees and set reasonable times to set work aside. Disconnecting from tech a couple of hours before bedtime will improve the quality of your sleep and have you feeling refreshed in the morning, ready to seize the day.
5. Mental Health Days
Unfortunately, mental health suffers from a negative stigma, but it’s just as critical as physical health. If you’re feeling unbalanced (mentally, emotionally, or physically), have a candid conversation with your company and let them know that you need a mental health day. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, especially given the current circumstances. A couple of additional days off can help you realign, shake off any stress, and return to work mentally prepared to get the job done right.
About Jolene Cherry: Jolene Cherry is a passionate health advocate and environmentalist. When she is not working, she likes to travel, hike, and enjoy the best espresso in town at the Spella Caffe. She also volunteers at Yoga in the Park and is a big dog lover.