Reduce Stress at Work

© 2005 …. by Doris Helge, Ph.D.

The following material was excerpted with permission from the book, Joy on the Job – Over 365 Ways to Create the Joy and Fulfillment You Deserve, by Doris Helge, Ph.D., © 2005, Shimoda Publishing,

Any material from this website that you quote, download, or reprint must include the credit line above.

Click here to order Joy on the Job now.

RANDY: When workplace changes push me to the max, I plug away as hard as I can until I finally have to take sick leave.

SANDY: When times are tough at work, I give 100% to myself so I can give 100% at the office.

Self-care is evidence of self-respect, which is essential if you are to experience joy and fulfillment at work. The following tips will help you stay balanced and energized at work.



Be aware of your personal needs. Notice your physiological reactions to potential stressors. Self-awareness can dissipate stress by increasing awareness of your choices.

Maintain your energy level and your ability to concentrate by eating breakfast and a balanced diet. Allow yourself adequate time to sleep. Make sure each day includes at least fifteen minutes of quiet, reflective time. (Deep breathing and meditation reduce stress while providing clarity.) Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol, white flour, and sugar. They cause fatigue, irritability, poor concentration, and mood swings.

Drink about sixty-four ounces of clean water a day. Most people live in a chronic state of dehydration. Unfortunately, they are not aware of it and interpret their body’s cries for water as hunger. They eat more and feel fatigued or irritable. Juices, coffee, and soda do not provide the same benefits as water.



Achieve a sense of stability by setting appropriate boundaries. Rotate periods of intense challenges with recuperation. Take mini-breaks during your workday. Use the breathing and other tools throughout this book to help you de-stress.

Steer clear of rumors and gossip, both of which contribute to stress. Instead, depend on your intuition, which is much more reliable.

Value yourself enough to set limits, prioritize what is important, and ignore what is trivial. Postpone nonessential decisions during periods of high stress. Continue to be aware of what you cannot control. Focus your energy in ways that will serve you in the long term. When it is vacation time, love yourself enough to relax instead of taking a “working vacation”.



Know who you are. Live your values, passion, and life purpose. No matter how beneficial some aspects of a potential change may be, you will not be happy if you violate your values.

Authentically express your talents and your individuality at work. Constructively express your emotions.

Set goals that will benefit you personally as well as professionally and are consistent with your values and life purpose. Then set realistic objectives by breaking your goals into manageable pieces. Reward yourself as you make progress.



Be your own best support system by believing in yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of your capabilities by reflecting on the results of the “Been There, Done That” exercise or reviewing past positive evaluations concerning your performance.

Remind yourself that challenges are an essential key to enhancing your self-esteem. Maintain your determination to stretch and grow. Physically remind yourself of your intention by holding your body in an erect position when sitting and walking.



Whenever possible, incorporate humor, fun, and creativity into your workday. Post a note to yourself to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

After work, watch funny movies, visit a toy store, or play with children. Allow kids to inspire you by watching how open-minded and curious they are when exploring change and challenges.



As the exercise below indicates, you can thrive even if you work in a toxic corporate culture. One of the most glowing examples of one’s ability to radiate a calm presence in the midst of chaos was discovered in an organization where rumors were plentiful about the details of an upcoming merger. It was clear that facts would continue to be scarce until the board of directors met again. The environment was tense, and most employees were fearful and irritable. However, a number of employees maintained a state of peaceful composure. Their secrets are described below.



When times are tense, explore the following techniques.

  • Consciously walk at 80 to 90 percent of your normal speed. Notice how this slightly decreased pace affects your mood and decreases stress.
  • Describe a challenge as you think your favorite comedian would.
  • Draw a problem as a cartoon.
  • Practice good posture. Studies have concluded that standing and sitting up straight sends a message to your brain that causes you to feel more optimistic, confident, and in control. Consider signing up for a yoga or Pilates class. These techniques increase your awareness of the link between your body and mind.
  • Express your fears and frustrations to trusted individuals rather than bottling them up and damaging your immune system.
  • Choose a frequently-occurring cue within your work environment, such as the sound of a door closing, an e-mail alert, or people saying a certain word. Each time the prompt occurs, slowly inhale. This should be a deep belly breath. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. When possible, repeat this process three times.
  • Play music that nurtures your soul, even if you must wear headphones to listen to it. Music has the power to directly affect the areas of your brain associated with reward and pleasure.
  • Inhale an aroma that produces a sense of peace, calm, or joy. Use a single essential oil or a combination of oils. Consider lavendar, ylang ylang, patchouly, bergamot, geranium, rosewood, or citrus fragrances such as orange or tangerine.
  • Use plants and pictures of beautiful outdoor scenes to develop a soothing green space in your office. Consider purchasing a small desk fountain that produces the comforting sounds of softly flowing water.
  • Notice when you tense your shoulders. Consciously let go of the tension.
  • Purposely touch the keys on your keypad more softly than usual or swing your arms more gently when walking. Observe any change in your mood and in the quality of your work.
List your most effective techniques for thriving in the midst of chaos.




“Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.” –.Frank Tyger

In the end, you are all you’ve got. You are not only responsible for your own happiness at work, you are responsible for taking excellent care of your most important work tools-your body, mind, and spirit.

Don’t waste energy feeling guilty about taking care of yourself. Your performance will significantly improve with self-nurturing. On the other hand, everyone concerned will lose if you consistently allow self-discipline to outbalance self-care.

(c) 2007

You may reprint this article as long as it is left in tact and proper attribution is given. Contact:

Click here to order your copy of the book, Joy on the Job – Over 365 Ways to Create the Joy and Fulfillment You Deserve, with hundreds of additional proven strategies you can immediately use.

Click here to learn how author and international speaker, Doris Helge, Ph.D., can assist you as a keynote speaker or seminar leader.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.