We’ve all had stressful moments (sometimes very long moments) at work. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid everything that causes us stress at work, such as deadlines, difficult projects, a low salary, and coworker conflicts. And to make matters worse, did you know that stress can cause back pain? It’s true. All that built-up tension in your shoulders, neck, and back will increase your back pain, making it even harder to work than it already was. The good thing is, while there are certain things we have no control over, there are a few things we do have control over to help reduce and remedy stress at work and avoid extra back pain.
Identify what is stressing you out. Sometimes we don’t know what is causing stress. Next time you feel stress at work, note what it is that is causing you stress. Is it that you have too much work, not enough work, lack of control, or unclear expectations from your supervisor? Whatever the problem is, the first step is to recognize the root of your stress and write it down. It is even likely that there are multiple things at work causing stress.
Speak with your supervisor. Sometimes just an honest talk with your supervisor (and HR) can help reduce a load off your shoulders (literally and figuratively). Were your boss’s expectations unclear? A talk with him or her will help clarify what is needed from you. It can be frightening and causes added stress to go to your boss about some issues (like asking for a raise), but in the long run, you will likely benefit from open and honest communication. And you won’t get a raise if you don’t ask for one, so what do you have to lose?
Find an at-work stress relief. Sometimes you need to unwind for even a few minutes while you’re still at work because of everything that is going on. If you’re at home, your stress relief might be yoga, running, cooking, or watching TV, but it is much harder to wind down with those things at work. Try rolling out on the Chirp Wheel for a few minutes of relaxing stress relief. The wheels will easily fit under your desk, and you can use them right next to your work area! Just using 3 to 5 minutes on the wheels can help you relieve some of that built-up tension in your back and help you take a few minutes to have a healthy response to stress at work. Check out this blog post to learn more about using the Chirp Wheel at your desk.
Find an at-home stress relief. While it is very important to have a stress relief at work, it is also important to relieve stress at home. Try rolling on the Chirp Wheel at home as part of your workout routine. Go play tennis, golf, basketball, or whatever it is you love to do. Instead of playing sports or doing something active, take a bath, go see a masseuse, or play video games. Doing something to relieve stress from work at home might be just the thing you need so you can be more productive and stress-free at work. Find the thing that works best for you so that you don’t think about work while you’re home, which brings me to my next point . . .
Build walls between work and home. I don’t mean literally, but creating boundaries so that you don’t worry about work while you're at home is important for managing your stress. Here are some quick ideas so that you don’t work off the clock: don’t check your work email, don’t make a work phone call, do plan activities with your family, do schedule time to relax. Of course, there are some jobs where you might need to work when you get home, but there are still boundaries that you can create. If you think of an idea that might help you at work. Instead of doing it right away, quickly jot down your idea so you don’t forget and leave it until you’re back at work tomorrow. Think about what boundaries you can create for your personal life to keep your work and home life separate.
“Act instead of react.” You’ve probably heard this phrase 1000 times before, but it’s tried and true. You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control your own actions and especially reactions to others’ actions. If your boss yells at you, if your coworker doesn’t do their job and it affects you, if you get a pay cut, take a deep breath. Inhale for 5 whole seconds and slowly release for 5 whole seconds. Although you are in a high-stress situation, at the end of the day it will be over. You’re smart. You got this far! You can figure out what to do next.
American Psychological Association. (2018, October 14). Coping with stress at work. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/work-stress
Goudreau, J. (2013, March 20). 12 ways to eliminate stress at work. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/#5a17faf7f290