How can you recover from work stress?

July 13, 2022

Only 32% of employees throughout the world say they are thriving, and 43% report high levels of daily stress, according to Harvard Business Review. Some reports suggest up to 61% of U.S. workers feel they are burning out at any moment in time, and those who are stressed out at work are more than three times as likely to look for a new job.

Employers increasingly are offering benefits such as virtual mental health support, spontaneous days off, meeting-free days and flexible work schedules. However, it is important you know what works to help you truly recover from stress, which involves restoring symptoms of work stress (such as anxiety) back to pre-stressor levels.

Harvard Business Review offers the following five ways to make recovery work for you.

  1. Detach psychologically from work. Research shows even thinking about work detracts from your ability to recover from it, and the simple presence of your mobile phone distracts you. Dedicate a fixed time each day when you can fully devote attention to a nonwork-related activity. Learn which triggers, such as your phone, prevent you from psychologically detaching from work.
  2. Take micro-breaks during the workday. Ten-minute breaks taken during the workday can be surprisingly effective for recovering from daily work stress. You could use the time to meditate, eat a snack or have a nonwork-related conversation with a co-worker. Micro-breaks taken earlier in the workday reportedly contribute to greater recovery.
  3. Consider your preference for recovery activity. Some people may feel pressured into going to a group exercise class or participating in a company activity during the weekend when they want to be home with their families. Not having a choice in your own recovery can sometimes do more harm than good. If you feel pressured to relax in a certain way, talk to your boss about how you can gain more autonomy to do recovery activities you prefer.
  4. Prioritize high-effort recovery activities. Research shows exercise can be even more effective for recovery. If you do not enjoy going to the gym or playing team sports, you can try a fast walk, a hike or a swim. Other activities that can work well for recovery are “mastery experiences” that require high levels of dedication, such as learning a new language or how to play an instrument.
  5. Shape your environment for optimal recovery. Being exposed to nature at work contributes positively to well-being and lowers the risk of burnout. Some companies are building exposure to natural elements into the workplace, such as park walks during lunch breaks. Exposure to daylight, having a window view or indoor greenery at the workplace have been shown to have a favorable effect on sleep quality, perceived stress and overall health. Even indirect exposure to nature—such as looking at nature scenes on a screen—can have recovery benefits.

Tags: Workforce

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