1. Lighten up
Almost half of Canadians say they use humour to alleviate pressure and control stress at work, according to a 2008 Workopolis.com study. Michael Kerr of Canmore, Alta., offers corporate humour workshops, and says it isn’t about being a stand-up comic. “We can choose to lighten up on ourselves, and to lighten up on each other.” He suggests encouraging co-workers to give out a “blooper” award: Customer service types, for instance, might pick the most bizarre request of the week.
2. Adopt a plant
A recent Dutch study found that people in a hospital room with plants reported less stress than those in a room with a picture of an urban scene. These findings build on studies done by Virginia Lohr at Washington State University, which found that when people performed a computer task in a room with plants, their productivity rose and their blood pressure was lower than people who did the task in a room without plants. “Plants help to humanize and relax us,” says Lohr.
3. De-stress your space
Dealing with distractions saps energy. “A neutral environment is the foundation for increasing your energy,” says Laura Stack, author of The Exhaustion Cure. She recommends wearing sound-cancelling headsets to shut out noise, discarding smelly food waste away from your desk and bringing in a heater or fan if you are often cold or hot.
4. Keep on blinking
A 2008 survey by the American Optometric Association found that 73 percent of people who frequently used a computer or hand-held device didn’t take enough breaks. “People lock their focus on the screen and, because they stop blinking, their eyes dry out,” says Ralph Chou, associate professor in the school of optometry at the University of Waterloo. He advises brief eye-rest breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. “Blink a couple of times and look around before plunging back in,” and position your screen so you’re looking slightly down at it.