With the stress-head chromosome deeply embedded into my DNA, I’ve had to master the concept of keeping calm and carrying on, not only to retain my sanity but for the sheer benefit of those around me. If you’re a self-confessed stress head and work serves as a primary trigger, it’s time to reevaluate your 9 to 5 habits and feed a little zen back into your working week. Here are 5 zen-inspiring work habits to start cultivating immediately.
Harness the power of to-do lists
We’re all accustomed to forming mental to-do lists, whether it’s on our way to work or while we’re in the shower. Making a mental note of what we need to accomplish for the day is something that comes as naturally as brushing our teeth. However, without its physical counterpart, your mental to-do list can rudely interrupt blissful moments of silence. And so, what begins as a pause for reflection is seamlessly destroyed by the lingering series of tasks you had reserved for later consideration. Creating a physical to-do list not only alleviates the unwarranted pressure to recall what needs to be done, it also allows you celebrate the completion of tasks with a big fat tick which is undeniably satisfying. I’m a huge advocate of hand-written to-do lists, however, if you’re digitally inclined, you may prefer using an app or the notes section of your phone. The ultimate objective is to decongest your brain and work through each task in an orderly, unflustered manner.
Step away from the desk
I’ve only recently discovered the power of taking breaks at work and shedding the guilt I previously attached to it. Your natural instinct may be to push harder when your workload intensifies, but if you continue to deprive yourself of a little downtime to recharge, you’ll find yourself staring down the barrel of burnout and it’s not a pretty sight. So, take your lunch break. And no, eating at your desk does not count. While you may be tempted to skip lunch altogether or inhale it as a compromise, it’s naive to believe that powering through your rising workload will generate a more productive outcome. Everyone needs an afternoon reboot.
Stretch your legs
Desk jobs can be painfully brutal on your back and your posture, particularly if you’ve voluntarily glued your ass to your chair for hours on end (guilty!). If you’re already experiencing the dire consequences of this sedentary work life, it’s not too late to reverse the impact on your body. Having been plagued with back issues ever since I joined the corporate world, I am genuinely committed to this cause. Though my back issues have not vanished completely, I can definitely vouch for the difference it makes when you’re frequently stretching your legs versus stupidly restraining yourself to the chair.
Master the art of delegation
If the option to delegate a portion of your workload exists, do not automatically perceive this as a reflection of your incompetence or laziness. For some of us, it is the unwarranted fear of being replaced that makes delegation an uphill battle. Although I am familiar with these feelings, biting off more than you can chew is not a viable strategy that you can uphold over the long term. Mastering the art of delegation will not only allow you to focus on more important aspects of your work, it will effectively extinguish a few of your stress-head tendencies.
Don’t be a martyr
There’s a common misconception that the mere request for assistance is an ominous admission of weakness, one we certainly could not recover from. This explains why many of us choose to ride down the stubborn route, ignoring all invitations that allude to help (out of sheer pride). There is nothing wrong with attempting to resolve an issue before calling for backup, however, torturing yourself for hours or even days before reluctantly throwing in the towel is painfully counterproductive and will not earn you any points. There’s no honour in battling fatigue and inflicting unnecessary stress on yourself when the solution is a few questions away.
If you find yourself sinking in a pool of self-inflicted stress, it’s time to review your work style and urgently reboot your motivation. You’ll find that adopting these simple habits will make a world of difference to your work week.