For the most part, people aren’t sufficiently managing their stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 30 percent of Americans say their stress has increased over the past year and 20 percent of people even say they experience levels of “extreme stress.”
From long commutes to poor leadership, there are a number of things that contribute to a person’s stress levels. A recent survey by Comparably found that above all, “unclear goals” were the number one source of stress for employees. The other top stressors are bad management, long commutes, difficult co-workers and long hours. However, 42 percent identified unclear goals as their top stressor.
Stress can often lead to burnout. While one might think a vacation could be a good cure for this, many people feel pressure to work during their time off. According to the survey, 33 percent of women and 26 percent of men say their bosses expect them to work during vacation.
So even if a vacation can be stressful, how can people truly chill out? Comparably co-founder and CEO Jason Nazar shared his tips on what people can do inside and outside the office to prevent and combat stress.
1. Take a walk.
“Take time out of your day to break your habits. Stress is a habitual response to things that are externally happening around us. It's our immediate reaction to things that are triggers or difficult or hard for us. So you've got to break certain habits and a really good way that I recommend is getting out of your work environment and taking a 20 to 30 minute walk a day if you can. Give yourself time to decompress during the workday so you’re not letting things build up all day long.”
2. Start your day with mindfulness.
“Start your day with intention. Take time by yourself, for yourself, to think about what you want. A lot of research shows that taking 15 to 20 minutes each morning and starting your day with meditation before you have breakfast, before you go on the computer, before you go into all the details of your day, makes a huge difference.”
“Give yourself some period to just not think about work at all or worry about anything that's going on. And a really big part of that is being off a device. A huge part of what makes us stress and less productive is being so tethered to our devices all the time. I think putting the phone away, putting screens away and just being in the present physical world can really decrease stress.”
4. Improve relationships.
“We have another study that shows one in three people work with somebody that makes them want to quit. And so very often the largest source of stress in your day-to-day work life is a co-worker or manager. Constructive, proactive conversations with those people could be a huge source of stress relief. If we can be proactive in approaching and interacting with that person about how things could get better, it becomes a dramatically important way to relieve stress.”
5. Create work friendships.
“Inside the workplace, one of the most important things is having a close relationship at work. If you have a best friend at work, when either times are tough or when times are good, you can have somebody there to go through that experience.”