I know I’m starting to get stressed at work when my hands slowly but surely make their way to my face and I start rubbing my eyebrows. (Luckily, I’ve yet to rub one off -- key word being “yet.”) I have a friend who bites the inside of her cheek when she’s stressed -- resulting in very sore cheeks that don’t play well with her favorite salty snacks.
Work stress gets us all at some point, but there are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way that help keep my eyebrows -- and my sanity -- intact.
1.) I clean my desk. I am a cluttery person, so this is a big deal for me. I find that if I take five minutes at some point during the day, or before I leave at night, and just pick up my desk, my mind seems to declutter as well. Post-its go in the trash, old to-do lists are likewise disposed of. Paperclips and pens get swept into a drawer, the same way I used to sweep my toys under my bed at night. Suddenly, I have a clean desk -- and a clean slate inside my head.
2.) I plug in to my iPod. Sometimes I’ll get really crazy and go with streaming radio, but it’s usually my iPod, with all the music I love. Not only does it help me tune out annoying office noise but getting to indulge in something I love brings a sense of peace to my mind.
3.) I take a mental smoke break. I’ve always thought it unfair that smokers were allowed to go outside for a smoke break whenever they wanted -- for some people, that adds up to a LOT of time spent away from work -- while I was expected to remain at my desk and not take breaks. So now I take mental breaks. Sometimes it means that I check on the latest lolcats and sometimes it means I go for a quick walk around the building, but I do something to take my mind off of work for just a few short minutes. I usually can return to my task much more refreshed.
4.) I keep a to-do list. I’m a natural list-maker, but in jobs where I have to juggle a lot of projects at once, a to-do list is unbeatable. Back in the day, my lists were usually jotted on a Post-it or in a planner, but lately I’ve taken to keeping a spreadsheet, which I update daily. I categorize each project according to priority and provide a space for due dates, notes and progress. This way, I’m ready each and every time my boss pops in to check on the progress of a given project – which in itself is a huge stress relief!