41 Ways To Reduce Work Stress And Be A Happier Person

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How To Deal With Stress From Work So You Can Be Happy

Happy people know how to reduce stress when work gets too much, so if finding happiness is in your radar, it's time to take charge of your life.

Work stress is inevitable. When you’re in the middle of a stressful workday, it’s easy to fantasize about trading in your entire situation for some (likely fictional!) existence in which you feel completely in control of your sense of well-being.

RELATED: How To Stop Trying To Avoid Work Stress (And Use It To Your Advantage, Instead)

You are totally effective and connected to your purpose, values, and the significant people in your life. You feel completely appreciated and understood and part of a team of caring, rational adults.

And of course, since it’s fantasy, you don't have to worry about finances, health, loved ones, or the future. Ahh, no reason to stress! That must be the life!

But besides that pesky fiction issue, this stress relief solution likely requires a dauntingly major and unrealistic overhaul of your current situation, as well as of your thought and behavior habits. It’s much easier (and human nature) to just pin your frustration on some immediate target (boss/job/life situation/family member/etc.) as the enemy of your joy and carry on.

But, even if you can’t do much about your situation right now, you can learn how to deal with stress by making tiny adjustments to your day to reclaim some of your joy.  

Situation or habit overhauls are hard! But tiny habit shifts can give you amazing results, giving you back some sense of control, satisfaction, meaning, and connection.

Take 15 minutes and a piece of paper. Think through your day, your week. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can for tiny little shifts, tiny choices with which you can experiment with to see if they would help you trade in some stress for more joy.

  • Where do you needlessly set yourself up for frustration, resentment, or exhaustion?
  • How can you set yourself up for more focus on meaning, happiness, and connection?
  • What little tweaks would buy you more energy or focus?
  • Where can you build in renewal and refueling?
  • What habits would make you stronger?

When you finish, stare at the list and circle a few that intrigue you, call to you. Star a few that actually seem manageable without too much effort. Better yet: start with just one for the next 3 weeks and nail it! Then, leverage that success to fuel your next.

RELATED: The Sneaky Way Your Work Stress Could Spiral Out Of Control

There are many ways to relieve stress.

(I’d love to hear what you come up with — we can all inspire and empower each other. Together, we can create the conversations that will make self-care, realistic stress management, and a focus on meaning and joy part of our daily lives.)

Here are 41 things you can do to reduce workplace stress so you can start finding happiness in life.

1. Take 5 long slow deep breaths before getting out of bed.

2. Do the above and decide what will be your "win" for the day.

3. Ask each person in your family what their win for the day will be.

4. Eat a breakfast that will fuel your win.

5. Fill a big bottle with water and pledge to down it before lunch, and again before leaving work.

6. Put a meeting with yourself on your calendar once/week to strategize your self-care.

7. Put a longer meeting on your calendar once a quarter to assess the "state of you". Write quarterly goals, check in with progress, assess your needs and strategize your next quarter. (This is critical!!!)

8. Knock exercise off your list early in the day before you can procrastinate or something gets in the way.

9. Indulge yourself with a just-for-fun audiobook, video or game while you work out, so you really look forward to it.

10. Have back-up plans for when work interferes with self-care.

11. Create self-care plans as a family- what can you multipurpose? (Family outing with physical activity and connection?)

12. Listen to something inspiring (or just playful) on the way to work.

13. If you have a long or frustrating commute, spend time strategizing how to make it your time, and not a daily repeat of unhealthy resentment.

14. Before entering the building, take a deep breath, get out of your head and actually feel your feet on the ground. Notice something in the nature around you.

15. Review your schedule for the whole day. Proactively adjust as much as possible to optimize your peak energy times and build in quick renewals.

16. Greet staff/colleagues/clients the way you would like to be greeted. Be the creator of the tone of the day.

17. Take a deep breath (starting to notice that trend? ;)) as you go through each doorway of your day and decide who you want to be on the other side of the door.

18. Start a meeting with a round of, “What is working?” This shifts everyone to a more positive, productive and present mindset.

19. Experiment with trying to ask more than you tell. This one is huge- curiosity is powerful!

20. Develop a mantra to repeat to yourself when someone/something triggers you: "I am enough and no matter what…I can choose my responses."

21. Decide to learn more skills in crucial conversations. These are skills we were not taught, but that has the power to relieve huge stress!

22. Learn about the power of Non-Violent Communication. You can avoid huge stress by learning better ways to communicate needs.

23. Not sure of something? You are not supposed to have an answer to everything right away. Learn to say, "I’d like to think about that for a day and get back to you. Check with me tomorrow afternoon if you haven’t heard from me." Put it on your calendar now.

24. Look over your to-do list and realistically assess what can be delegated, deleted, or deferred. (Make those choices to better align your values/goals.)

25. Learn to delegate well. Clear expectations make life easier for all.

26. Chunk work as best you can into types for better focus. For example, schedule admin time instead of fitting into content times.

27. Use Pomodoro’s Technique to increase focus. Your brain must break to refuel and process.

28. Schedule time to process meetings and new learnings. Review and reflect to make information and thoughts move to ideas and innovations.

29. Start paying attention to boundaries and create ones that honor your purpose and well-being and the needs of others.

30. Practice saying, "Gosh, I just don’t have the bandwidth right now to give your project/committee/etc. the time/justice it deserves. I’d be glad to help you brainstorm who might." Or just say no more intentionally, kindly, and more often.

31. Remember you can’t say yes to something without saying no to something or someone else. What yes’s do you need to guard?

32. Take lunch as often as you can to refuel your day, give your brain a few minutes to process the morning, and check-in with your day plan.

33. Make lunch count with bonus points: connect to someone- colleague/loved one/old friend, get outside the building for a few minutes, walk/stretch/say hello to your body, eat something that truly nourishes your afternoon.

34. Create a snack plan that requires shopping once/month to replenish. Enlist help if needed.

35. Have your team, your family, and yourself take the VIA Survey of 24 Character strengths assessment and have a discussion about how these strengths support your best work and life. (Hugely empowering!).                                                                                                  

36. Set an alarm for mid-day/afternoon (or use a habit app, like Good Habits) to check in with your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy levels–what do you need to be at your best for the rest of the day?

37. Close the workday properly. Take just a few minutes to capture your un-dones and new to-do’s on your list of choice. (Wunderlist is an easy one.) What went well today? What do you need to shift for tomorrow? Decide who you want to be this evening.

38. Plan to be present with your family. Take a few breaths, feel your feet on the ground. Acknowledge what stress you are carrying from work and decide how you want to process it to find your power.

39. Use dinner for a gratitude share with your loved ones. Ask about those wins for the day. What else went well? What are you proud of? What are you grateful for? What are you curious about?

40. Be open about the frustrations of balancing it all. Enlist family help and clarity of expectations. Choose together what matters most to all.

41. Make sleep a priority. Create your unique ritual that checks on your needs, soothes your mind and body, frames this day and the next with intention, and connects you to who/what matters in your life.

There are infinite ways of tweaking the 1440 minutes of the day to make them work more for you so you can be happy. 

What are you curious about trying? 

Do the research on how to be happy while you're dealing with stress. Figure out how you can tweak your days to create more of that deep sense of connection, purpose, well-being, and happiness, which all lead to infinite joy in life.

And never, ever hesitate to reach out for support along the way–we are all in this together! 

RELATED: 10 Work-Life Balance Tips That Will Make Everyone A Little Happier While Earning That Paycheck

Cynthia Ackrill leads stress and leadership workshops in many settings from coaching and leadership programs to women's conferences. Want to learn more strategies to tackle your stress and put more you in your future? Contact her or visit her courses and resources on her website.