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HR Pros - 7 Ways to Combat Stress and Strengthen Productivity


January 18th, 2019

- Updated on

March 13, 2019 - 1:59pm
We recently shared the results of a survey conducted among AJO's HR Leader Exchange members. This was part three of a three-part series on strategic HR/HR transformation. You can read the post here: Taking the Pulse of the HR Function. Is it Agile Yet?  All CHROs and senior HR leaders shared that HR teams today are asked to do more and have more impact, with fewer and fewer resources. Our guest blog, courtesy of Julie Morris is a timely follow-up and we hope HR professionals will find some takeaways from the seven tips we share here. While the post was written with HR professionals in mind, the tips apply to all business professionals looking for ways to combat stress and improve their productivity.

Human resource professionals have a lot of things to be stressed about — tight deadlines, multiple and increasing responsibilities, and workplace conflict, to name a few. Too much stress can impede productivity and lead to burnout when left unchecked. According to Forbes, some common signs of HR burnout include fatigue, irritability, increased isolation, and a decrease in work quality. If you’re feeling the effects of workplace stress, this is for you!

1.) Swap the Coffee for Energizing Supplements

Drinking coffee is a reliable way to boost energy when you're struggling to wake up in the morning or bogged down during the dreaded afternoon slump. However, caffeine can actually increase feelings of anxiety and contribute to fatigue by ramping up our fight-or-flight response and reducing our overall sleep quality.

Family Life Today recommends ditching the coffee and picking up a few energy-boosting supplements with naturally calming qualities. Everyone is different, so it's important to assess your needs before buying. Are you looking for a mood lift? Do you want to banish mid-afternoon fatigue? Does anxiety plague your workdays? Consider your preferred method of consumption as well. Do you want something that can mix into a smoothie, or would you prefer a simple pill you can take on the go? There are several options ranging from ginseng-packed multivitamins to antioxidant green tea tablets, so find the supplements that will be most beneficial to you.

2.) Try On-the-Go Stress Relievers

Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try out some quick stress-busting techniques. You can do these anywhere and anytime throughout the day. For example, engage in a mini meditation session to calm your body’s nervous system response and help refocus your mind. Counting your breaths and mentally scanning your body for tense muscles are both effective ways to quickly relieve anxiety when you’re stuck in a stressful situation. Try this on your morning commute, during a work meeting, or while you're in line at the grocery store. You may even discover that you have a little extra patience that you weren't aware of!

3.) Exercise in Small Bursts

Some people don’t have time in their day for a 30-minute workout. Instead of forgoing all the stress-busting and energizing effects of regular exercise, try to fit in some physical activity whenever it works for you. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, any amount of physical activity is better than none. To fit in the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week, you only need to get moving for about 22 minutes every day. However, you don’t have to do this all at once. Even if you only have time for a five-minute walk, go for it!

4.) Set Some Boundaries

HR leaders have a lot on their plates. When people keep dumping responsibilities on you, it’s hard to focus your talents on pursuing your career goals. Communicating your limits and learning to say “no” can help you feel more in control of your work life. Pay attention to which tasks you’re fine with and which make you feel uncomfortable. Try not to feel guilty about turning down work — most people will be respectful and considerate about your limits.

5.) Train Your Body to Sleep Better

The importance of sleep quality is often overlooked, especially when there seem to be better things to do than lie awake in bed stressing over the day to come. However, research suggests that most Americans are living with an excessive and unhealthy amount of sleep debt. In addition to daytime fatigue, sleep deprivation causes several problems in our mental health, including cognitive impairment and mood instability.
By training your body to sleep more efficiently, you can enjoy higher quality sleep without spending too much additional time in bed. For example, proper sleep hygiene can decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, reduce your reliance on the snooze button, and prevent you from waking up during the night. There are several simple ways to improve your sleep efficiency.
  • Turn off electronics one hour before bed
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
  • Avoid exercise and alcohol three to four hours before bedtime
  • Try not to consume caffeine after 12 pm
  • Improve your bedroom environment
HR Professional Productiivity Tips
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

6.) Organize Your Work Life

Many successful professionals claim that being organized is the key to productivity. Staying organized will help you focus your time on important tasks. A to-do list can help with this; add important tasks to the top and push anything non-essential to the bottom. If you find that any tasks keep ending up at the bottom of your to-do list, try to hand these off to someone else.
Keeping your desk and office environment decluttered can help you feel much more relaxed as well. And don't forget about your virtual environment! Set up a system for organizing incoming emails or work documents on your computer. The Balance Small Business has some great ideas for managing your electronic files so you can easily find documents and avoid a crisis.

7.) Smile More

Everyone knows happiness makes you smile, but did you know that smiling can also make you feel happy? Studies have found that smiling can reduce stress and make you feel more content in stressful situations. Your brain senses the particular muscle movements in your face when you smile and associates these with positive feelings. In a kind of feedback loop, your brain responds by producing happy emotions. It’s a win-win situation.
Also, our brains are naturally wired to mirror the actions of others, which is why smiles are so contagious! By smiling at others, you’re bound to make others smile, too. This has similarly positive effects on our mood.
Don't let stress and fatigue keep you from enjoying a fulfilling work life. Try practicing a bit of self-care by tending to your mental and physical health before you reach the point of burnout. When you feel motivated and in control, you'll be able to focus your efforts on implementing new ideas achieving your career goals.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book. Visit her site at juliemorris.org