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10 Ways to Reduce Work Stress and Become Happier

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Project Management is no walk in the park. The constant deadlines, never-ending tasks and to-do lists, budget management, and client correspondence can drain even superhuman project managers.

In fact, a commenter on our Project Management is Like Winning the Super Bowl post even scoffed that managing a project is actually much harder than winning the NFL championship.

Still there is no need for those who hold the title as a project manager to be left drowning in a sea of stress and unhappiness.

If you’re feeling a little stressed at work, here are 10 ways to reduce stress on the job and increase your happiness:
1. Stop Over-thinking: a lot of people have been Sonja Lyubomirsky about Gretchen Rubin lately. One thing everyone agrees on: we all have to stop over-thinking. Running over bad scenarios in our head does not help us come up with a solution, it just fills us with unhappy thoughts.

2. Wake up Early but Get Enough Sleep: besides being a common habit among the ultra successful, waking up early allows you time to organize your thoughts, and ease into your day rather than rush from one thing to the next. But waking up early doesn’t mean you can just skip out on sleep entirely. Make sure you still get enough hours because everything is more manageable after a good snooze.

3. Get organized: stress comes from feeling overwhelmed and out-of-control. So get back in control and get organized. At work this might mean adopting a better system to organize your tasks, or to even unclutter your work-space.

4. Acknowledge Success: as a project manager it’s important to focus on the big picture. Sure it’s great when you finish a task, but it’s less exciting when you know you have 15 more things to do before the project is complete. However this big picture focus can lead us to disregard little triumphs and simply move to what’s next on the to-do list. In order to be happy, take a couple seconds to acknowledge what you’ve already done.

5. Exercise: maybe this isn’t feasible to do in the office (though I once had a coworker who would routinely drop everything to do a couple push-ups) but being active helps control our mood.

6. Remove yourself from the situation: imagine your problems from an outside point of view to get perspective on a situation. Maybe something has a simple solution that you can’t see because you’re too emotionally involved.

7. Wear Blue: whether or not you acknowledge the validity of color therapy, it’s undeniable we all have a primitive response to color–we sigh when we see a pretty sunset and look twice as we pass a flashy ad. Color affects our mood, and blue calms us down.

8. Listen to happy music: how can you stay upset while listening to Train’s Hey Soul Sister or Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way? Maybe those examples are too corny for your sensibilities but studies show that happy music makes us happy.

9. Think of your memoir: this is my personal strategy. Whenever times are particularly challenging, I just imagine what a riveting chapter it will make in my future memoir. Evil manager? Great antagonist. Impossible setback? Excellent suspense.

10. “If you want to be happy, be” — Leo Tolstoy Studies show that 40% of happiness is in our control, and only 10% is dictated by life’s circumstances. It’s up to you whether you will let your work life stress you out, or if you will enjoy the up’s and down’s along the way.

What are some ways you manage stress in the office? Leave a comment below.

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