Stress in the workplace is a costly phenomenon. Thousands of employees suffer from health issues due to severe stress. Many cite workplace stress as a top reason for leaving their jobs. Companies lose millions of dollars from workplace stress. However, what are some ways by which companies can help employees deal with stress?
So, what activities can relieve workplace stress? 50 individual, team, group and company stress relief activities are:
One of the best ways to subdue stress is to introduce stress buster activities. By breaking the constant exposure to stress, these activities give workers the chance to try something new for a change. Productive stress relief activities should be fun, fresh, and engaging.
To give managers some ideas, this article suggests 50 activities that can help people take a break from the daily hustle. Many of these ideas are already used elsewhere, while others are still unorthodox.
Some are for individuals, so employees themselves must take charge. Others are for teams and organizations, so administrators are the ones who will implement them. Not everything might be applicable for a specific company, so try some of these ideas out and see which are useful for your organization.
At its core, stress is a survival instinct. It forms part of the flight-or-fight response, which activates whenever a person feels threatened by external threats. Many of the effects of acute stress, such as increased heart rate and breathing, are meant to prepare us for quick action.
However, this response hasn’t adapted to the times. While stressors such as enemy encounters used to be intermittent, most stressors nowadays, like high workloads, are recurring in fashion. The human body cannot withstand being always on edge. Humans are maladapted for chronic stress, and unabated stress levels over a long period can lead to nasty physical and mental effects.
Stress management is one of the underrated corporate measures of the modern workplace. Not a lot of companies are willing to spend their resources in ensuring that employees can cope with stress. However, those that do find that their employees are happier, more productive, and more dedicated to their respective organizations.
It can be challenging to think of stress relief activities on your own. This article lists potential ideas to make it easier for managers to figure out which ones will work for them. Here is a compilation of 50 plans, meant to work for individuals, teams, and entire organizations.
Stress management starts with individuals. In particular, employees should first develop personal habits that help them battle stress on their own. Seeing that individual action is the foundation of stress management, some stress relief activities are suitable for individuals rather than groups.
Sometimes, all’s that needed is a good meal. Many employees are willing to skip meals so that they have more time for work. Some skip meals because they want to lose weight or save money. Others resort to fast food or other unhealthy diets in the interest of saving time or money. However, all of these can lead to poorer health, which leads to more vulnerability to stress.
Eating a balanced meal can help people regain strength and vitality. People need to receive vitamins and minerals, as these will help them perform at their best. Otherwise, resorting to poor diets can lead to more sick days, lower efficiency, and higher occurrences of error, all of which can lead to more stress.
In general, physical activity helps in combating stress. However, each particular activity uses a different mechanism for alleviating anxiety. As anyone who has tried stretches could attest to, stretching is inherently relaxing, especially after a hard day’s work. Stretching also improves blood circulation. Finally, stretching improves flexibility and posture, which can prevent backaches and painful cramps.
When people think of relaxing activities, weightlifting seems like a weird choice. Indeed, lifting weights is strenuous work. However, vigorous activities such as weightlifting tend to promote feelings of wellness, especially after the workout is complete. Physical activities encourage the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that stimulate positive moods.
Weightlifting also conditions skeletal muscles, making them less likely to cramp up or to ache. In this way, weightlifting reduces stress by preventing these potential stressors from occurring in the first place.
In some industries, people expect to be chronically sleep-deprived. However, lack of sleep can cause more than just sleeplessness. Poor sleeping habits are associated with mood swings, cognitive impairments, and increased stress levels.
Sleep allows the body to rest and is essential in conditioning the brain. Well-rested adults are more physically and mentally fit, and they can better resist the effects of stress. However, note that that quality of sleep matters just as much as how many hours you sleep per night. Make sure to get good quality sleep at the right amounts to reap the most significant benefit. (We ahve written a related article - Why We Sleep)
Some adults haven’t picked up a book ever since they graduated from college. Many people don’t like reading, while others can’t find the time to read anymore. However, for those that are still able to cultivate their love for reading, they find that the activity helps them relax.
Reading is relaxing, but not because it encourages idleness. Reading promotes imagination by allowing people to take on the perspectives of other characters and to imagine settings different than their own. This activity stimulates the brain while still being a fun pastime. If you ever need an excuse to read a book, know that a lot of people relieve their stress through reading.
While some people read, others want a more active experience. These creative types find solace in writing. Whether it be prose or poetry, writers find that they can express their innermost thoughts and emotions by writing it down.
Many employees find that writing serves as an outlet for them, enabling them to express their thoughts without judgment instead of keeping them all inside their head. For some people, this is enough to take their stress away.
Many activities require resources, such as a block of time or access to equipment, that might be a luxury for others. However, there are stress relievers that are easy to implement. One of them is to squeeze a stress ball during intense periods of work. These soft but sturdy balls offer people catharsis by providing them an outlet for their stress.
Many people concentrate on the squeeze action whenever they use a stress ball. This action helps increase mindfulness, which is useful in reducing stress levels immediately.
Working non-stop might seem like a good idea to become more productive. However, humans are not machines that can operate continuously without breaks. Sooner or later, people start to become less efficient at their work. Their bodies ache, and their attention wavers. To refresh and rejuvenate, people should take short but frequent breaks.
An excellent way to take a break is when you want to get a glass of water. Use thirst as a signal to take a few minutes off. Your body and mind will thank you later for it.
Water breaks are fantastic, but sometimes people want a different kind of activity. People who spend hours hunched over a computer might find it welcome to take a few minutes walking around the premises. It gives the mind a quick break while also providing a mild workout for the body. Strolls serve to clear the head, which can increase creativity and motivation to work.
Naps will never be a substitute for a solid night of sleep. However, they are still useful for alleviating drowsiness and restoring alertness, especially for people suffering from sleep deprivation.
Naps have different effects based on their duration. Aim to have naps lasting no more than a few minutes to avoid sleep inertia, where you temporarily feel groggy just after waking up. Alternatively, have a nap that lasts for 90 minutes, as this is enough time to complete one whole sleep cycle, reaping maximum benefits.
Meditation emphasizes being in the present, which is something that many employees have forgotten how to do. Meditation encourages blocking out distractions and focusing on current thoughts, without any analysis whatsoever. The central dogma of meditation is to acknowledge any emotion, then to let them go as they please.
Meditation works because it encourages mindfulness, allowing people to resist distractions better and to become more resilient against stress.
Jamming to your favorite music is enjoyable for many people. Employees are often able to relax more deeply when listening to their favorite hits, even if these include heavy rock music. Good music is a proven mood booster, so make sure to enjoy them as much as you can.
Many people are more productive and less stressed when they work with music. However, some people prefer to listen to music without doing anything else in order to savor every detail. Workers should experiment to find out what works for them.
Socialization is innate in humans. As a social species, we have developed to form lasting bonds with other people in order to improve our chances of survival. Even now, almost everyone enjoys good companionship.
However, work sometimes prevents people from spending more time with the people they love. Social separation can worsen pre-existing stress, as employees may feel that they are all alone in their endeavors. The perfect remedy for this is to have more conversations with trustworthy people. A message from a friend may be all it takes to calm someone down.
While some people can work even with messy desks, the majority would prefer neat and orderly workspaces. Sometimes, they feel that they don’t have time to clean their stations. The workspace is a reflection of one’s mind, so desks strewn with stacks of papers will only invite more stress.
For many people, finding the time to clean up helps alleviate stress. The activity itself is beneficial for promoting productivity, and employees feel that they are putting their time to good use.
Employees are expected to learn and pick up things on the job, mainly since many of the required skills are acquired only after leaving formal schooling. However, many adults believe that the time for learning is already in their past. This mismatch of expectations can be a significant source of stress for many people.
Some people still have a love for learning, but many don’t have the time to go to classes. To solve this problem, many employees turn to online learning courses, which enable them to learn at their own pace and the comfort of their own homes. Online courses give employees satisfaction by encouraging autonomy. At the same time, these courses help them become better at their jobs, further increasing self-efficacy.
Stress management doesn’t need to be a solitary activity. Many employees find it more useful to engage in activities that include their peers. Such activities do more than battle stress: they also foster stronger work relationships among employees. A good social support network is an essential element of stress management, and these activities help support networks grow and develop.
When people talk about stress relief activities for groups, team building usually comes to mind. These type of activity groups employees and subjects them to different friendly competitions. Particular activities may include physical activities where people are expected to get down and dirty. Events like these usually happen in resorts and other leisurely venues.
The core concept of team building is that by giving people similar experiences and making them overcome challenges, they form deeper bonds with each other. Team building activities may be expensive, but they are useful methods for promoting camaraderie while giving people a break from the daily grind.
For some situations, people want to rest and chill out while having meaningful conversations with each other. An excellent place to do that would be in a café setting, complete with jazzy music and an inviting atmosphere.
Many people would like to hang out with colleagues while drinking coffee. However, decaffeinated coffee should be preferably used, as caffeine can increase anxiety levels.
For people who don’t like coffee, chamomile tea can also work. While most teas are known to have a stimulating effect, chamomile tea does the opposite. It is commonly drunk at nighttime to help people get a good night’s sleep.
Sipping hot tea while bonding with friends can be an unforgettable experience, as well as an effective stress killer.
As mentioned before, physical activity helps maintain both physical and mental well-being. Earlier sections of this article discussed how activities such as stretching and weightlifting could help people cope with stress.
However, other activities, such as yoga, benefit from being conducted in groups. By including a social aspect, yoga becomes an even more immersive activity. Yoga classes can be perfect for people who wish to improve their posture and balance while still bonding with friends.
For people who want more intense workouts, aerobics can also work. Cardiovascular exercise such as aerobics strengthens the heart and lungs, making them more useful at delivering oxygen and nutrients to the different tissues of the body. Improved blood circulation leads to better overall wellbeing.
Aerobics as a group activity can also be fun, and bonding sessions before or after it can help strengthen work relationships.
Parties are not usually associated with stress management, given the stereotypical view of parties as full of drugs, sex, and teenage angst. However, parties are still an excellent way to unwind, especially after a day filled with workplace stress.
People can have a good time during a party without having to go overboard. By setting some house rules, people can party without causing any harm. Besides, seeing their boss dance like there’s no tomorrow can already be a stress reliever for many.
If your workplace is in a hot climate, employees will appreciate some swimming lessons at the next company outing. Learning how to swim is a purposive skill that not everyone knows yet. Swimming is also relaxing, especially during hot days. Finally, being a physical activity, swimming leads to the same release of endorphins that makes weightlifting a pleasant activity.
Swimming lessons are undoubtedly unorthodox, but they might be the perfect stress buster for your company.
Massages help alleviate pains and aches caused by poor posture and chronic stress. Physical touch, which is what a massage is, promotes the release of oxytocin, another neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and social bonding. Some forms of massages also help loosen stiff muscles and increase blood circulation, leading to a healthier body.
Managers might be put off by the price of a massage, but treating the entire team to a session or two is guaranteed to earn their gratitude. (We have written a related article - Reduce Stress and Axiety at Work)
Meetings have become the black sheep of business, mostly because of their tendency to drag on and to waste resources. However, well-planned meetings can lead to lower levels of stress! Meetings serve a purpose by communicating information among team members, ensuring that concerns find answers and that everyone is on track.
Some necessary planning, such as sticking to an agenda, can help make meetings more bearable. Managers sometimes introduce gimmicks to turn meetings into stress relievers. Some sessions start with planks or jumping jacks, while others end with a hearty meal.
Similar to physical meetings, online meetings are avenues for communication. When harnessed correctly, they can help reduce workplace stress. They can also be an avenue for employees to give and receive social support from their peers.
For teams that are musically-inclined, a simple jam session might do the trick. Preparing songs and performing them involves coming to terms with inner emotions, all of which can ultimately make people more relaxed. If the company hosts a music competition, this can also be an avenue for people to win recognition for their talents, which can bolster their self-esteem.
Board game nights are reminiscent of the games that people used to play with their families when they were younger. Hence, this type of activity is more appropriate for small, closely-knit teams that already think of their members as a second family of sorts.
Board games need not be limited to classics such as Monopoly. The board game market is filled with dozens of titles and genres, making sure that people will never run out of games to enjoy.
Foosball is a mainstay of office game rooms. For the unacquainted, it is a game that resembles soccer. People rotate rods in order to control rows of players, and they try to score by shooting the ball towards the opponent’s goal.
Foosball has a certain appeal for many people, and a group of people can easily have hours of fun with it.
On a more serious note, support groups can be a useful way to handle excessive stress. It combines social bonding with the opportunity to express repressed emotions within a safe space. This option is a more somber choice compared to some of the other entries in this article, but they are nevertheless a useful part of stress management.
Moderated drinking sessions can still help combat stress. Despite what many may believe, alcohol is a depressant. It reduces brain activity, and in small doses, it can help suppress overthinking and release inhibitions.
Drinking sessions can be a productive avenue to talk about problems and seek support from others. However, the presence of alcohol makes it a risky endeavor. Employees should practice caution when drinking, and they should know when to stop.
Sometimes, stress relief activities are better when implemented as part of company policy. It enables everyone in the organization to benefit from these activities.
Fun runs are an excellent way to keep people physically fit. Many employees look forward to participating in fun runs with friends. Preparing for a fun run also involves weeks of conditioning. All these physical activities can give people stronger bodies and healthier minds.
Some fun runs take it further through various gimmicks, such as night runs where people receive glow sticks. Others make associate worthy causes to the fun runs, ensuring that a part of the proceeds go towards causes that the employees believe in. (We have written a related article - 25 Top Stress Relief Products)
Despite the name, amazing races need not be as extensive as fun runs. It can take the form of relay games conducted on the company premises. The point here is to incorporate teamwork and fun into each activity, ensuring that employees will work together, compete for the top prize, and have fun.
Team sports can also be fun, especially if there are competitive players within the organization. Even if some people don’t participate directly, they can still enjoy by cheering on their players.
Getting the chance to feature homegrown talents is something that certain people can’t resist. Employees will be able to showcase their skill, while everyone else gets good entertainment.
Based on recent trends, spoken word performances have been increasing in popularity these last few years. Perhaps it’s because people find it to be the perfect outlet to express themselves. Having to write down their innermost feelings and to present them in front of an audience, performers find that spoken word helps them deal better with stress.
People with arcane, encyclopedic knowledge might find it interesting to join a quiz bee. Preparing for a quiz bee and outwitting opponents can be a welcome change of pace for many employees.
With the advent of modern technology, competitions should not happen in physical locations only. There are numerous games online that offer people the chance to compete with each other and to have fun.
Spending a day in a cookoff is heaven for foodies. Cooking enthusiasts get to show people their stuff, and at the end, everyone gets treated to good food.
Admittedly one of the more arcane suggestions in this article, cosplay can nevertheless be a stress-relieving activity. Being able to achieve a certain look can be a challenging but rewarding task, and the sense of satisfaction can be enough to make employees feel fulfilled.
Human beings need to feel appreciated. Even something as simple as a birthday greeting can be enough to make people feel at ease.
In the same token as birthdays, teams should celebrate career achievements. It makes employees feel validated, which will help them think that all the stress was worthwhile.
The best employees deserve something extra. There’s no need to go overboard, but something as simple praise can motivate them to continue their excellent work.
Repetitive work can cause boredom and stress. To introduce novelty, managers should consider work rotations so that everyone gets to try something new.
People love socializing, so providing formal events where they get to grow their social networks can help reduce stress levels.
Speed dating events can be an unusual but effective way to boost employee morale. Speed dating can strengthen relationships and are also a lot of fun.
Inviting everyone to watch the latest blockbuster can be a hassle-free way to make people relax after work.
Karaoke, particularly bad singing, is notorious for annoying people off. However, suitably constructed booths should allow people to sing their hearts out without disturbing other people.
One way to reduce stress is to boost self-efficacy. Allowing employees to work on side projects they love bolsters their confidence and can be a welcome respite from their regular jobs.
Contrary to popular belief, stress management skills are teachable. Equipping people with these skills can help them become better at managing stress themselves.
Finally, making it easier to access professional mental health services reminds employees that there is nothing wrong in asking for help.
What can I do if my company doesn’t support these activities? The ideal way to proceed is to talk to your superior. Communicate how exactly these activities can help in stress management. Provide substantial evidence when presenting your case and hope for the best.
How do I know which activities are relevant to my company? Experiment and try out promising activities. As stated before, some of these activities might be better than others for particular cases. Ask your employees for their opinion and consider the current capabilities of your company to handle such activities before implementing them.
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