10 ways to beat stress at work for the Indie Worker

Stress ruins motivation, productivity, and your overall wellbeing. Here's how to beat it.

Stress affects everyone in some way. Workload, finances, diet, lack of sleep, social life, relationships, and plenty more aspects of everyday life can contribute to those overwhelming feelings. It becomes impossible to concentrate, to separate tasks and focus on one thing at a time. All of a sudden our colleagues, clients, and customers irritate us and we just want to be left alone.

Managing and tackling stress can feel like a lot of effort, so we’ve listed these 10 simple de-stress methods you can use next time you feel overwhelmed. You don’t need to use all of them (but give them all a go!) all the time. You might find two or three that help you refocus your mind and calm down so that you can carry on being awesome.

1. Laughter cures all…

If we didn’t laugh, we’d surely cry—we’ve all found ourselves at this existential crossroads more than once. Often, the beauty of laughter is that it comes to us unexpectedly, and as we float down from the heights of our laughter, we feel a little calmer, and composed, and at peace. It’s almost impossible to feel emotions like anger, or sorrow, or anxiety, or even jealousy during the process of good, honest laughter. Laughter carves tension better than any icebreaker, it helps people find common ground and form friendships, and, perhaps most importantly, it teases more endorphins out of our brains.  In order to find more laughter while you’re at work, we recommend keeping a joke book at your desk. They’re cheap and have thousands of corkers in them. Alternatively, talk to colleagues you know have that humorous aura about them. Talking to someone who tends to see the lighter side of things can help you to remember that some things aren’t as severe as they might seem under the microscope.

2. Wear what makes you feel comfortable

For some people work stress starts after their morning shower. Tying a tie, clicking cufflinks through cuffs, shining shoes, avoiding tearing your tights, choosing the right colour combinations—dressing formally while feeling as if you’ve retained some sense of yourself can be tough. No one wants to spend half of their day in an outfit they’re simply not comfortable in—we’re hyperconscious of what other people think about us already. Most indie workers have no uniform to adhere to, and we'd encourage you to take full advantage of that! Be yourself and dress as comfortably as possible! (IC Members Maykher offer some gorgeous sustainably-sourced clothes ;))

3. Find a few minutes to be creative

There’s creativity in everyone. You can use your creativity to distract yourself when your stress feels like it’s reaching a crescendo. Keep a notepad on your desk that you use for the sole purpose of unloading your stress. Consult this notepad at least once every work day, and scribble, draw, write—whatever you need to do, for a couple of minutes a day. Write gibberish, squiggle squiggles, colour in half a checkerboard. After a brief moment, you’ll be ready to take on your next task, feeling a little less emotionally heavy.

4. Make time to befriend your coworkers

One of the primary reasons we set up Indycube was to get indie workers working together in a shared environement. When you don't have colleagues to work alongside, you can still get out and about and gel with your coworkers. Whenever you’re feeling stressed at Indycube, you’ll have someone willing to offer an ear. Stress can deceive us into thinking we need to be alone—but humans are actually herd animals. We thrive off social interaction.

5. Listen to music

Listen to music or the radio while you work—all you need is a pair of earphones! Listening to your tunes not only drowns out the daily noises of a workplace, but many people think they can concentrate more when listening to their music. If your job requires you to talk to clients or customers all day, you may need to put your phone on vibrate so you don't miss it!

6. Take a few minutes each day to breathe deeply

Deep breathing and other mindfulness techniques are free, and quick, and you can do them while sitting at your desk. Keep your back straight, and inhale through your nose. Begin to exhale through your mouth and feel the air—and your negative feelings—leave your body. Repeat this, slowly, for a couple of minutes. Keep each breath slow and steady. Try to focus on each inhalation and exhalation. As the stress seeps out of you, you’ll start to feel calmer.

7. Read more!

Lunch time! An opportunity to waste money on processed food and sink your time into observing everyone else’s contrived social media posts. How about a different lunchbreak? Avoid screen time (unless you have a Kindle), and opt for a book. It doesn’t matter what type of book. A sports biography, Stephen King’s latest novel, or an academic journal—whatever you want. Aim to read five-to-ten pages of your book each lunchtime. Engage with language and let your mind slip into another world—you’ll escape your stress, and even learn a new word or phrase while you’re at it. You could set up an IC book club, and create an opportunity to make friends via a newfound hobby, all while tackling stress.

8. Burn off some of your stress… and some calories

There’s no substitute for exercise. Whether it’s in the gym, a swimming pool, running outdoors or joining a local sports team, getting a few hours of exercise into your weekly routine will help you to reduce your weight, tone up your body, and rebalance the chemicals inside you. Running is also great for mindfulness, an effective stress-reliever. As an indie worker, you'll be managing your own time, so use it wisely! Fit a work-out in to your working day and you're guaranteed to get back to your desk feeling revitalised and ready to focus.

9. Plan your day… the day before, if you can!

It’s easy to decide to wing it. To turn up to work without a plan of action for the day. But actually, achieving anything with this tactic can be much tougher.
Use a notepad or your computer’s Sticky Notes application and make a to-do list for your day. Either do this when you arrive in a morning, or prepare for tomorrow at the end of each day. You can always add to your list, even subtract and reprioritise tasks. But, once the list is there, you have physical proof of the tasks you need to do. And when you tick a task off, or delete it, you’ll feel like you’re making progress. Life feels more manageable when we feel like we’re achieving things. Even small things. Before you get in bed for your night’s sleep, prepare your ‘getting ready in a morning’ routine. Pack your bag, prepare your lunch, have your outfit ready - something comfy, remember! We’ve all missed our bus or train because we couldn’t find our keys or phone charger in our morning scramble. Avoid this, and you’ll reduce your stress.

10. Work closer to home

As an indie worker, you can work anywhere! Working from home every now and then is great, and means you can get on with your admin in your pjs, but getting out and about and keeping to a routine is best 80% of the time. There are over 35 Indycube locations at present, with more to come. We're aiming to help you to kill the commute and work as close to home as possible, giving you more time in the mornings and evenings, and avoiding the stress of traveling to the city to work. Choose a coworking space closer to home, and ease your stress levels.