40 Easy Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work

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Workplace stress is a chronic problem in the U.S. Fifty-six percent of employees say workplace stress it interferes with their job performance. Fifty-one percent say it impacts their relationships with coworkers, and half say it impacts their quality of work.

So needless to say, most people experience stress at work and something needs to be done about it. That’s why we decided to compile a list of ways to relieve workplace stress, with scientific research to back it up.

If the mere thought of going into work every morning stresses you out, this article is for you. If you feel anxious and stressed all throughout the workday, this is for you. If you’re an employer and have noticed more employees calling out sick and productivity slipping, you should read this.

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As common as stress at work is, the reality is many companies and employees don’t take the time to deal with it. We just assume work is supposed to be stressful and after a while it becomes so routine that you don’t know anything else. But we’re here to break that cycle. You shouldn’t leave your job feeling depressed, sad and filled with anxiety. You’re going to spend over 90,000 hours of your entire life working, so you need to make it as stress free as possible.

Here are 40 ways to eliminate stress at work:

1. Buy an Indoor Plant

If you work in an office or somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of natural light, that might have a lot to do with why you’re stressed at work. Sunlight and nature have been shown to improve your mood, give you energy and a long list of other health benefits.

Since you likely can’t just break down a wall to let some fresh air in, an alternative is to buy a nice indoor plant and put it on your desk. According to multiple studies, plants can:

  • Increase attentiveness
  • Boost productivity at work
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Improve job satisfaction
  • Lower anxiety
  • Give you a more positive perception of your workspace

You’re not limited to a boring cactus when it comes to choosing an indoor plant to de-stress at work. Try any of these plants to get the stress relieving benefits:

  • Aloe
  • Rubber tree
  • English Ivy
  • Red-Edged Dracaena
  • Spider plant
  • Snake Plant
  • Peace Lily
  • Golden Pothos
  • Bamboo
  • Philodendron

Just remember to care for the plant so it doesn’t die out on you!

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a mindfulness/meditation practice that involves tensing up muscles throughout your body, and then releasing them. Typically you’ll start from your head, tensing up your eyes, forehead and shoulders. Then work your way down to your torso and all the way down to your toes. Here’s an insanely relaxing progressive muscle relaxation guide that we highly recommend.

In one study of progressive muscle relaxation on student athletes, this stress management technique was shown to help regulate the players’ mood states.

The good thing about progressive muscle relaxation is you can do it while sitting at your desk without anyone knowing. When you start to feel stressed, quickly run through the process of tensing and releasing your muscle groups throughout your body for quick stress relief at work.

3. Learn to Leave Work at Work

This is a challenge for people who are workaholics or simply love what they do. Since we spend so much of our lives at work, it often becomes a part of our identify. We become so attached that it’s hard to separate our work life from our personal lives. As a result, you start responding to emails at dinner or stressing over a project you’re working on when you should be spending time with  your kids.

When you don’t have work/life balance, you get caught in a constant cycle of stress that’s nearly impossible to get out of. With 20% of workers spending 20+ hours a week working during their personal time, it’s no wonder why stress at work is such an issue. Plus, when you combine that information with this Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business study that found people with high-stress jobs and little control are more likely to die sooner than people with more work/life balance, the case for leaving work in the workplace is extremely strong.

Long story short, when you clock out for the day, clock out completely. Even if you occasionally have to reply to an email or answer a phone call, don’t let the stressors from work completely takeover your personal life.

4. Take a Deep Breath

Did you know that most people don’t breathe correctly? Over the years, we’ve become accustom to taking short and shallow breaths. Part of the reason is actually our obsession with looking thinner. We consciously and subconsciously tend to suck in our stomachs to make our tummies look flatter. As a result, it stops us from breathing from our guts, and instead breathe from our chest. Then when you add on our fast-paced culture that makes us fail to stop and be mindful, most of us completely ignore our breathing patterns altogether.

But when you’re stressing out at work, dial things back. Take a few seconds and take a deep breath. You can try these 10 deep breathing exercises right at your desk without anyone knowing. Studies have shown that deep breathing calms your body’s stress response, which makes it perfect for high pressure situations like the minutes leading up to a big presentation.

So if you’re wondering how to cope with stress at work, take a deep breath!

5. Try Office Yoga

Most people are aware that yoga is good for them. But aside from making you more flexible, yoga has been scientifically shown to help relieve stress. A study from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience looked at the physical and mental effects of a three month yoga retreat, and saw that participants experienced reduced stress and inflammation in their bodies.

You don’t have to work for a fancy startup company to enjoy yoga in the office. While it’s certainly nice, there are plenty of ways to practice some basic yoga anywhere. Whether you work in a retail store, office or any other type of environment, you can squeeze in a little yoga when you need to relieve some stress at work. In fact, there are so many people searching for ways to stretch and do yoga at their desks that there are thousands of videos with tips on how to do it. Here’s one from Yoga by Candace that’s extremely simple and easy for beginners.

As you can see, you don’t need an entire yoga studio to overcome the effects of stress. Just a chair or desk is more than enough to give you quick stress relief at work.

6. Drink a Cup of Stress Tea

We’ve written about the stress relieving benefits of tea before, because it’s one of the easiest (and tastiest) ways to relieve stress. And it’s not just anecdotal or a placebo affect. In fact, one study set out to specifically test whether or not black tea had an impact on stress levels. The researches tested black tea against a placebo for six weeks, and concluded the tea lead to lower post-stress cortisol and more relaxation.

Keep in mind that we’re talking about natural tea that provides herbal stress relief, not sugar-filled “tea” soft drinks you buy at convenient stores. If you’re looking for good options, we highly recommend checking out Teabox. They have a wide variety of naturally grown teas and fun accessories that’ll make you want to become a tea addict.

7. Get up and Stretch

Don’t feel like doing yoga? Well just getting up for at least 10 minutes every hour for some light stretching is another effective way to reduce stress at work. You don’t have to do anything too intense. Raise your arms in the air, twist your back a bit or swivel your neck from side to side.

Chances are you’ll know exactly where you’re feeling tense when you start to get stressed out. Concentrate on stretching out those specific areas of your body for a little bit. Once you feel centered and a bit less stressed, continue on with the task at hand.

8. Desk Meditation

Meditation at work? That sounds crazy!

Fifteen to 20 years ago, you’d be right. But these days, companies are placing a priority on reducing workplaces stress and improving employee satisfaction. As a result, more companies are looking for ways to introduce mindfulness into their culture because it has been shown to relieve stress and actually changes your brain. Neuroscientists from Harvard Medical School researched the effects of meditation on the brain over an eight week period and saw differences in brain volume in five different regions of the brain:

  • Posterior cingulate: Involved in self relevance and mind wandering
  • Left hippocampus: Assists in cognitive function, memory, emotional regulation and learning.
  • Temporo parietal junction: Associated with compassion and empathy.
  • Pons: An area of the brain stem where many regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
  • Amygdala: The part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight part of the brain, which is directly linked to stress and anxiety.

For the amygdala, the researchers noted the area got smaller in the participants that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program, which correlated to a reduction in stress levels. So in short, meditation can help reduce stress at work. But how do you actually implement it?

If your company doesn’t have a program in place, try to find a quiet place where you can sit alone. If there’s nowhere in your workplace, consider stepping out and sitting in your car for a while. Then, go through a brief 5-10 minute meditation. If you’re new to meditating, we highly recommend checking out Headspace. They have free guided meditations great for beginners that can be done anywhere.

Also, if you think your job will be open to it, try pitching your HR department the idea of allowing meditation in the workplace. You can point them to this article and the studies mentioned as proof that it’ll be beneficial!

9. Get a Stress Cube

The stress cube took off as a trendy toy for stress and anxiety. And whether or not it sticks around long term remains to be seen. But before you write off stress cubes as a gimmick, there is a little science to support the benefits it has for relieving stress and anxiety. And it all comes down to fidgeting.

In one study of students between the ages of six and eight years old, researches found that kids who were able to move their hands freely during a lesson were able to learn quicker than those who didn’t fidget. So how does that relate to stress?

There’s a theory known as the cognitive load hypothesis. It suggests that when we’re forced to deal with complex problems or thoughts (i.e. stressful situations) we exert some of that cognitive load into movements like fidgeting. As a result, we’re able to free up some of our mental resources to focus on the mental process and actually think through what’s going on. Stress cubes/fidget cubes allow you to occupy and satisfy that physical urge to fidget, which frees your mind from stressors.

10. Use a Fidget Spinner

If cubes aren’t your thing, try a fidget spinner instead. These will give you similar benefits of fidget cubes, plus allow you to make a YouTube video that might just go viral.

11. Play Hooky

Coming off a particularly stressful week of work? Does the thought of getting up Monday morning stress you out beyond belief? Here’s the perfect solution—don’t go.

Playing hooky from work every once in a while can give your brain the mental break it needs to bounce back and return with a clear mind when you’re ready. Obviously there are some boundaries to follow for this. For instance:

  • Don’t ditch work to avoid confilict: If you’re trying to get out of work to avoid a specific conflict or issue, it won’t help. Sometimes you just have to face stressful situations head on in order to overcome them.
  • Don’t break company rules: Not every company has the same rules in place for taking off work. If you only get a certain amount of sick days or paid time off, don’t risk losing your job to play hooky.
  • Do it sparingly: If you’re taking a day off every other week to relieve stress, there might be a bigger issue going on. Stress days should only be used when you absolutely need them.

If you’re feeling awkward about calling out due to stress, don’t. It’s actually very common. An estimated 1 million employees are absent from work every day because of stress. With employers demanding longer hours and more results, full-time employees now work an average of 47 hours per week. So no need to feel guilty about taking a little extra time to recenter yourself when the stress is too much.

12. Eat a Healthy Snack

The food you eat doesn’t just affect your physical health, it also plays a major role in your mental health as well. If you constantly find yourself dealing with stress at work, take a look at your diet. Do you tend to munch of sugary junk food throughout the day? Do you eat breakfast? How often do you drink water?

All of these seemingly small details could be contributing to the stress you experience at work. Fruits and veggies packed with stress fighting nutrients can give you the boost you need to lift your mood during particularly long and stressful workdays. But in addition to that, keep in mind that when you’re stressed at work, you might end up eating more than you should. Stress eating is a very common issue and leads to obesity, heart disease and a variety of other issues.

Make sure you’re getting a healthy diet, that consists of whole, natural foods that contain the following nutrients:

  • Magnesium: almonds, spinach and seeds.
  • Omega-3: salmon, tilapia, halibut, flax seed and walnuts.
  • Vitamin C: oranges (or 100% orange juice), strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts

Here are some more foods to pack for lunch to reduce stress at work.

13. Try a Stress Management App

You use apps to keep in touch with friends, edit photos, take notes and everything else you can think of. But did you know there’s a huge selection of stress apps designed to give you quick stress relief? In fact, we even made a list of our 10 favorites!

We wrote an entire article that dives into how video games relieve stress, but in short, stress management apps distract your mind and give you a way to relax. When you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed at work, take 10 minutes to step outside and try an app like Buddha Board, Personal Zen or Happify.

14. Chew Gum

Most of us tend to chew gum mindlessly either when we’re bored, want to suppress our appetite or to get a quick breath refresher. But there’s another benefit of chewing gum that you might not have known about—stress relief.

According to a two week study, chewing gum can help with anxiety, depression and other mental conditions including stress. Maybe that’s why Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is constantly chewing gum on the sideline of their games?

pete carroll chewing gum

Even if your job doesn’t involve coaching a football team, chewing gum can still help give you plenty of stress relieving benefits at work. The best part of chewing gum is it’s super cheap and you can do it without drawing a ton of attention.

15. Talk to Your Workplace Buddy

Human beings are social by nature. There’s a reason isolation has such a negative impact on your brain, and why it’s used as a form of torture and punishment.

When you’re feeling stressed out at work, one of the worst things you can do is keep everything to yourself or suppress your emotions. Having a friend to confide in and vent to can be a great source of stress relief, especially if you just had a particularly stressful event happen.

Keep in mind you don’t want to cross the line of becoming a chronic complainer. Occasionally venting your frustrations or feelings is normal. But if you’re constantly complaining to your coworker about the same issues over and over, it’s a sign you need to make a change. Avoid turning venting into gossip sessions as well. The goal is to have someone to confide in and bounce your thoughts of each other in a productive way.

16. Visualization

Visualization, or guided imagery is the practice of creating a vivid and detailed image in your mind of peaceful relaxing environment. It doesn’t always have to a serene beach or waterfall. It could be an image of something or someone that makes you happy. The goal is to take your mind away from a stressful event or environment by focusing on a visual that makes you calm and relaxed. You can get more details in this article.

If you’re new to guided imagery, we recommend using an audio recording to walk you through the process of painting a relaxing image in your mind. You can have this playing while you work to stay in a relaxed and stress free mental state throughout the day, or just listen to it during those moments when stress and anxiety are getting the best of you.

17. Have a Little Dark Chocolate

We’ve already mentioned how food can be a great stress reliever, but one food that gets overlooked for stress relief at work is dark chocolate. Most people assume all chocolate is unhealthy and bad for you. While a lot of store bought candy bars that you’re used to definitely won’t provide much nutritional value, dark chocolate is another story. This decadent treat has been shown to be an effective way to reduce perceived stress in females.

You don’t need to eat a king sized candy bar to get the effects. The study showed that just 40g of dark chocolate over a two week period was enough to see an effect. So the next time you feel stressed and start craving a sweet treat, skip the sugary milk chocolate bar and opt for natural dark chocolate or cacao instead.

18. Swivel Around in Your Chair

For some reason, the older we get it seems like the less free and fun seeking we become. As children, running around and playing are encouraged. But as adults, we lose that sense of fun and joyfulness, particularly at work.

While your job might not be the place to play a game of tag or run around with super soakers, you can still find little ways to have fun and relieve stress. For instance, just swiveling around in your chair and letting your feet dangle can give you that that brief “freeing” feeling of being a kid again. The thrill and excitement is just what you need to boost endorphins and reduce your stress hormones.

19. Put Your Phone Down

If there’s one thing people like to do at work, it’s be on their phone. Whether you’re texting, browsing the internet or on social media, most of us are glued to our phones for an average of five hours every day!

time spent on phones daily

And according to a recent study from the American Psychological Association (APA), all of this mobile browsing is stressing us out. According to the study, nearly half of employed people are either often or constantly connected to at least one mobile device during the work day.

how often people are on their phone at work

The APA also found that 65% of Americans agree that occasionally unplugging or taking a digital detox helps their mental health. Despite that, 63% of millennials and 47% of Gen Xers feel like they are attached to their mobile devices. As difficult as it may seem, putting your phone away for a second could be just what you need to relieve stress at work.

Try going for a five minute walk outside without your phone once a day. Or spend a few minutes talking with a coworker without looking at your phone. After a while, spending time without your phone won’t seem abnormal, and you’ll find yourself a lot less stressed at work.

20. Take a Break From Your Computer Screen

On a similar note, you should also occasionally take a step away from your computer screen as well. As much as we’ve normalized it, staring at a computer screen for hours is not normal or healthy.

Depending on what web browser you use, there are plenty of extensions that’ll give you a notification to get up and move around after sitting at your desk for a while. Or you can use a Pomodoro timer like this one.

The Pomodoro technique is often used for studying, but works wonders for keeping you focused and not over stressed at work. In addition to destroying your vision from computer vision syndrome, neuroscientists and ophthalmologists seem to agree that there are clear signs it impacts your brain as well. Do yourself a favor and take a break from your computer screen every now and then. Your eyes and brain will thank you!

21. Watch a Funny Video

There are few things in this world that are quite as enjoyable and relaxing as watching cats and dogs do cute things on YouTube. Science aside, it’s nearly impossible to feel stressed out when you’re looking at a video like this.

22. Change Your Computer’s Wallpaper

We mentioned that you need to take breaks from your computer screen occasionally, but if your job requires you to do a lot of computer work, then you might as well have something relaxing or positive on the screen when you’re on it.

This is a somewhat subtle way to relieve stress at work, but often times it’s the less obvious things that can completely alter your mood. If your computer screen has been set on a default wallpaper with random geometric shapes on it, swap it out to something that you actually want to look at. Something that brings you joy, makes you feel good or matches your personality.

If you sign up to become a Zensider, we’ll give you a set of over 20 custom wallpapers designed to motivate you and make you feel less stressed. Or you could set your wallpaper to be your dream workspace.


23. Play Some Music

Music is like a magical form of medicine for your mood. Whether you’re stressed, sad or anxious, music has the power to completely uplift and transform your mood. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that we’re recommending as one of our favorite ways to relieve stress at work.

But it’s not just our opinion. According to a 2013 study, listening to music positively affects the stress response as well as the overall psychobiological stress system. In other words, listening to music can improve your ability to handle stressful situations. Ever wonder why dentists and doctors play calming and relaxing music while you wait? It’s because they know people often get stressed or anxious about their visit, and the music helps to calm you down.

Bring that same stress management tactic into your own workplace by playing soothing music while you work either through headphones or if your coworkers want some stress relief too, use speakers.

24. Go for a Walk

It doesn’t get any more simple than dropping everything, stepping outside and going for a short walk. When you’re stressed at work, you’re likely under a lot of pressure and having trouble concentrating. Walking can recharge you enough to clear your mind and get back on track.

In fact, research shows that a 20-30 minute walk has the same relaxing effect as a mild tranquilizer.

25. Use an Essential Oil Diffuser

Be sure to check with HR before trying this stress management technique out. But using an essential oil diffuser could be just what you need to relax and create a zen work environment at your desk.

Essential oil diffusers spray streams of essential oil into the air in intervals. People have used essential oils to relieve stress for centuries, and diffusers make it extremely easy. But since diffusers spray mist/steam into the air and can cover quite a bit of square footage depending on the model, make sure that it’s allowed and that you won’t be disturbing your coworkers first. (Take a look at our picks for the top five essential oil diffusers.)

best essential oil diffuser

26. Get a Good Night Sleep

Sleep is one of the most well-researched ways to reduce stress at work and throughout your life in general. That’s why we made a complete guide on the link between stress and sleep, packed with research and data to show just why sleep is so crucial for stress relief and overall health.

Stress Sleep Affects Mood

Make sure you get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night, especially during stressful periods at work. For instance, if you’re working on a big project, you could be doing more harm than good by pulling all-nighters in order to meet a deadline. Getting a good night’s sleep will give you the energy and mental agility to be more productive while you’re awake.

27. Naam Yoga Hand Trick

Did you know your hand is filled with pressure points that can instantly impact your mood? This ancient Easter Medicine practice involves activating these different pressure points with specific hand gestures, depending on what you’re trying to do. For instance, to calm yourself, you can apply pressure to the space between your second and third knuckles on your middle finger.

naam yoga hand trick

Here are some other hand movements you can do to relief stress. The best part about all of these tactics is you can do them right at your desk, or even during a stressful meeting without everyone knowing.

28. Start Planning Out Your Days

Stress at work can happy for any number of reasons. But one of the most common causes is being unprepared. Whether it’s not being ready for a meeting, having to give a presentation on short notice or anything unexpected, not having time to plan and prepare can be extremely stressful. Get ahead of it by planning your days out in advance.

There are plenty of free tools that’ll help you like Google Calendar, Trello or project management software. We recommend making to-do lists to help you track what you’ve done, what you’re working on and what needs to get done next. (Here are 11 tips to actually complete your to-do list)

When you know what to expect, the fear and anxiety of uncertainty is taken out of the equation. Then all you have to focus on is how you’re going to complete tasks instead of what tasks need to be completed.

How Employers Can Relieve Stress at Work

So far, we’ve gone over tactics employees can do to relieve stress at work. But the reality is if your workplace’s environment is stressful and toxic, the tips we’ve given so far will only treat symptoms of a more serious issue. In order to truly minimize stress at work, it takes commitment from employers as well. There’s a reason so many of the most successful companies in the world prioritize employee wellness and mental health. It creates a more enjoyable atmosphere where people aren’t as stressed out. As a result, they’re able to be more focused and productive.

Now the question is, what can your company do to create a more stress-free environment? Here are some tactics that can work for companies of all sizes.

29. Offer Group Yoga in the Office

Yoga is a classic stress management technique that’s great for physical and mental health. It’s used by 15% of the population (U.S.) and 28% have practiced yoga at least once. So there’s a strong likelihood that your employees either are interested in yoga or are currently practicing. Why not make it more accessible for them by offering weekly or monthly classes in your office?

Yoga has been shown to increase serotonin levels, resulting in less stress, anxiety and even fighting depression. With yoga becoming more mainstream, many instructors provide corporate packages tailored to the needs of your employees. For instance, if your team does a lot of sitting, the instructor might focus on poses to relieve low back pain. You can take it a step further with group meditation. Companies like HBO, Google and Apple provide these services and it’s safe to say it’s helping their employees achieve great things.

30. Have a Designated Nap Room

Remember what we said earlier about the importance of sleep? That’s not restricted to just nighttime. While it’s not as common in the U.S. several other countries encourage napping in the middle of the day to keep employees more productive and less stressed:

  • Spain: You’ve probably heard the term siesta before. A siesta is a mid-day break, and several businesses will close for up to two hours to accommodate this long-standing tradition.
  • China: Workers in China are sometimes given an extra break after lunch to take naps at their desks for up to an hour.
  • Italy: Similar to a siesta, Italy has what’s called riposo. This is a “break” time in the afternoon that can last for up to two hours where businesses close down. During the riposo, employees can go home for lunch or a nice mid-day nap.

It’s worth noting that all three of these countries also have much lower suicides rate than the U.S. Although naps might not be as mainstream right now, it’s definitely a stress management tactic worth exploring for businesses.

31. Don’t Make Employees Feel Guilty for Going Home Early

Going back to tip #11, many employees work long hours because they feel obligated. They feel that if they stay those extra hours and put more time in, they’ll be rewarded. While employees that go above and beyond deserve recognition, it shouldn’t come at the expense of their mental health and wellbeing.

If someone wants to leave a little early on a Friday to get their weekend started, don’t make them feel guilty or wrong for it. Of course, that’s assuming it’s not a routine habit and they’re performing well otherwise.

The last thing you want is burnt out employees working 12 hour days completely stressed out and depressed. As an employer, it’s up to you to set benchmarks and standards for the work culture. If your goal is to reduce stress at work, then consider being a little understanding of when employees need to cut out a little early when they’re mentally drained and stressed out.

32. Ban Work Emails After 6PM

As we discussed earlier, American culture is very work-focused. But separating work and personal life is crucial for productivity and mental health. If your employees feel like they’re on the clock even when they’re at home, they’re not going to have as much energy and focus when they come into work. In the end, all you have is a bunch of overly stressed people who are overly invested in work.

One thing you can do to break this bad habit is to set a company-wide policy where nobody can send emails related to work after a certain time unless it’s an emergency. Because let’s be real, most emails can wait until the next day, which reduces unnecessary stress and the pressure of feeling obligated to respond.

33. Have a Team Happy Hour or Company Outing

This is a great way to reduce stress at work and increase team morale at the same time. In high-stress workplaces, it’s easy to get wound up and tense. Break up the routine a bit by scheduling occasional team outings for everyone to get together outside of work and just relax.

34. Bring a Spa to the Office

Here’s a very creative stress management technique for work. Spas are extremely relaxing, stress relieving and an all around great experience. Unfortunately, they can either be pricy for some people, and others just have difficulty finding time to go. Why not do something special for your team and bring the spa to your office? Contact a local spa and see if they provide a service where they can come and offer massages, facials and other services to your team.

This can be an amazing way to relieve stress during or after extremely stressful periods like the end of the quarter or after the completion of a long-term project. Often times employees don’t take the necessary time to decompress and destress after busy moments at work. So this is a good way to help them relieve some stress and show your appreciation.

35. Avoid Micromanaging

As difficult as it may be to admit, sometimes the source of employee stress isn’t their workload, coworkers or pay. It could be a bad boss. While it may seem as though the higher up on the corporate ladder you are, the more stressed you are, research published in The Journals of Gerontology showed otherwise.

For lower level employees, there isn’t necessarily anyone to pass long their tasks to, so they sometimes end up being the most heavily worked people in the entire organization. So as you can imagine, the last thing they need or want is a micro-manager.

If you want to relieve some stress at work, it could be as simple as just backing off and letting your employees do their job.

36. Have Celebrations (Big and Small)

Does your company take the time to acknowledge and recognize the achievements of your employees? According to data from Psychometrics, 58% of employees felt their company leaders could increase engagement by giving recognition.

And since happier employees are less likely to be stressed out, this could be just what you need to reduce stress at work. The mistake many companies make is to recognize employees primarily based on tenure. In fact, 87% of recognition programs focus on tenure according to one study. Instead, celebrate all victories, big and small, regardless of who the employee is. If a newer team member did an amazing job on a project, acknowledge it. It’ll make them feel happy and appreciated, which means they’re less likely to be stressed.

37. Be Flexible

This is more of a general tip. Be flexible with your employees when possible. For instance, if someone wants to telecommute one or two days a week because their commute is long and stressful, it might be worth compromising to make their lives a little easier. Or maybe some employees want a non-traditional schedule. If it’s not going to impact their performance or their coworkers, consider it.

Be proactive about understanding what’s stressing your employees out and find ways to reduce or eliminate those stressors for them. It’ll probably force you to be a little more flexible and go outside of “traditional” workplace culture, but if it increases productivity and employee satisfaction, it’s well worth the trade-off.

38. Make Your Office Comfortable

Windowless rooms, poor air circulation, bad lighting and uncomfortable furniture make it kind of difficult to relax. If you want to understand why employees are calling out sick, have low morale or constantly feel stressed and depressed, take a look at the environment they’re in.

There’s a reason some of the largest and more successful companies in the world invest heavily into the design and amenities of their office. They want employees to feel comfortable and happy when they’re at work. That doesn’t mean every workplace has to be decked out with ping pong tables, fancy furniture and the latest equipment. But your office shouldn’t look like it was setup in 1992 either.

A good rule of thumb is to ensure your environment isn’t detracting from employee satisfaction. At the bare minimum, natural sunlight, good air circulation and ergonomic furniture should be on your list. Also consider asking employees what you could do to make the workplace more comfortable and stress free. Take some inspiration from Inc’s list of the World’s Coolest Offices.

39. Provide Healthy Snack Options

We talked about how eating healthy can relieve or reduce stress at work. You can make this process even easier by providing some free healthy snack options to your team. There are several services like Snacknation and Grazed that deliver healthy snack options to businesses.

And if you can’t quite afford one of these services, some alternatives are to buy healthy snacks in bulk from Costco or have a vending machine installed with healthy options to make it convenient for employees.

40. Try Unlimited Paid Vacation

Although it has been heavily debated, the companies doing it successfully have raved about the benefits unlimited vacation has provided for relieving stress at work, productivity and even saving costs. One of the key benefits of allowing unlimited vacation is employees can take time off when they need it, without worrying about how it will impact them financially. As a result, they’re likely to take vacation when they otherwise wouldn’t have due to the fear of losing out on money or using up all their vacation days.

Not every company has the means or desire to give this policy a shot. But if you’re interested, Inc recommends these five tips to make it work:

  • Don’t leave people guessing: Create an FAQ that answers common questions like “how much vacation should I take?”
  • Measure performance: Monitor whether or not your unlimited vacation policy is actually helping productivity or workplace stress.
  • Call legal: It’s not as simple as just stating “we have unlimited paid vacation now.” Check with your legal team on the laws in your state in regards to vacation for hourly vs salaried employees.
  • The CEO must go too: If everyone isn’t using the policy, the people that do will feel guilty and others will be afraid to take full advantage. If you’re going to offer unlimited vacation, make sure everyone is abiding by it.
  • Ban working vacations: You’ve seen the common theme throughout this guide. Make sure employees are actually taking time to relax and destress when they’re on vacation.

How do You Relieve Stress at Work?

There you have it, 40 proven ways to relieve stress at work. But we know there are plenty of others. What’s your favorite way to reduce or get rid of stress at work? Leave a comment and let us know. And feel free to share this article around the office with your coworkers, HR or even CEO!

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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