How to dominate stress at work

With life’s fast pace, it’s more important than ever to combat excess stress at work with improved eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. You do your best when the pressure is on. But there are some natural, healthy practices you can add to help relieve stress at work both for yourself and coworkers.

On the offense

To have restful habits, you need to be on the offense. Some planning and determination will help turn these ideas into a calmer way of life for you at work.

I’m a self-proclaimed “Before Person.” I coined that term as someone always ready for the next move, even if it’s way ahead of time.  

I always have my keys in my hands before going outside to my car. In the wintertime, I won’t freeze myself or others while they are waiting for me to open the doors. Do you find yourself holding your keys while walking to your car? Congratulations! Your friends and family love you for it. Most likely, you are a “Before Person.”  

“Before” people are usually List-Makers. At work, having a list of tasks on paper, to take the place of the random thoughts swirling around in your head, reduces stress. There’s no need to worry about forgetting to do something critical on any given day. Writing tasks down permits you to be calm and to think only about what you are working on right now.  

Often, you may think of something else to do while you’re working. No problem! Add it (with a sigh of relief) to your list. Next, prioritize using asterisks, highlighting the essential duties of the day. Did I mention the endorphins that are released when you get to cross something OFF of your list? Write yourself a clean, new agenda for the next day.

To reduce even more stress, tackle smaller projects first and then larger ones. It’s incredible how many line items you can complete in just one hour. You will be rewarding yourself with fewer items left to accomplish for the next day. Way to be on top of things! Preparing a list as part of your workday will significantly lower your stress level.


Concentrate on improving communication and relationships with coworkers; make someone’s day by doing something beautiful for them. You will automatically create smiles around you at work.

Switch it up! Take a meeting to a nearby restaurant and turn it into a lunch and learn.

Consider keeping stress-fighting foods handy. A bowl of warm oatmeal, foods that contain Vitamin C (like oranges), and decaf black tea are known to reduce stress. Eat slowly. Sip slowly.

Remove unnecessary clutter. Add some small succulents or poinsettias around your primary area of work where you can see them. They require little maintenance, and they will significantly lower stress at work and increase productivity.

Breathe! Set a reminder to stop and take some deep breaths with your eyes closed. Do some quick stretches and move on about your day.


This month, construct a list of tasks you need to complete, and indicate the items you need to finish today. Consider inviting coworkers out to lunch for your next staff meeting to change the atmosphere. Do your best to create pleasing surroundings by clearing your workspace and adding some small plants. Remember, stress at work is inevitable. Take care of others and yourself — and breathe!

Jim Rowell is the CEO and co-founder of Rising Sun Consultants, LLC, in Harrisburg, and assists clients in building the health and well-being of their organizational cultures. Co-author of The 10 Keys of Effective Supervision. He can be reached at Jim@risingsunconsultants.com.

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