What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Workload (Our Top 10 Surefire Stress Busters)

How do you know when you’re getting overwhelmed? You’re breathing and heart rates speed up, your stomach is in knots, and you have trouble thinking clearly. These are all signals that your stress hormones have kicked into high gear.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to calm your mind and body down — even while you’re at work, and often in just a few minutes. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Talk to someone.

    Share that you’re snowed under with a co-worker or team coach. Nobody will lose respect for you, and you’ll probably get some much-needed help and sympathy. At the very least, it will be a relief not to keep your feelings bottled up.

  1. Write it down.

    If you still don’t feel comfortable talking, jot down your problems and worries in a journal. Just getting them out of your system will help you feel better.

  1. Breathe easy.

    Close your eyes, breathe in for the count of 4, then out for the count of 4, and repeat. Block out all other thoughts while you do this; it frees your mind from vicious cycle thinking.

  1. Queue up some tunes.

    Put on your headphones and zone out to your favorite music.

  1. Take a virtual vacation.

    Whether in your imagination or online, spend a few minutes in a beautiful location that triggers happy thoughts or memories.

  1. Nibble on something.

    Chew gum, eat a square of chocolate or sip green tea. You’ll relieve anxiety and lower your cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.

  1. Throw cold water on it.

    Splash cold water on your inner wrists and behind your ears. It will cool down the major arteries just under the skin in these spots, helping to soothe the whole body.

  1. Get the joke.

    There’s nothing like a good laugh to break the tension. Tell jokes with your co-workers or visit a LOL website.

  1. Get to the point.

    Use acupressure to ease tension, fatigue and energy blocks. Press firmly and massage these spots for 5 to 10 seconds:

  • On your hand, in the webbing between thumb and forefinger.
  • On your shoulder, half way between neck and arm.
  • On the base of your skull on either side of the neckbone.
  1. Stretch it out.

    Stand up and do a quick, all-over stretch to relax tense muscles. Reach for the sky, do shoulder rolls, touch your toes, do runner stretches for calves and thighs.

These 10 tricks help provide immediate relief from a stressful work situation. If it’s a situation that happens often, though, consider looking for long-term solutions. Are there ways you can take control, improve efficiency, or ask your supervisor for solutions? You owe it to yourself and your career to be able to exceed your own expectations while on the job.