When at work you may feel anxious and totally exhausted. That’s something common for employees across all verticals and industries.

To top it off, employees routinely work longer hours, face problems at work from bickering coworkers to angry bosses.

This only exacerbates problems like poor decision making. This reduces overall employee performance.

There are many ways in which people attempt to deal with stress. One is simply by starting with the work no matter how bad it looks at the forefront.

The second way is to find refuge by retreating to a shell by disconnecting from work and moving away from stressors. Disconnecting from the environment does the trick for a lot of people. We even have a name for it. It’s called relaxing.

Some workplaces are honing into the fact and building nap rooms, massage tables and even saunas inside the office to get employees to relax. Google Inc is famously known to encourage its employees to ride a bicycle around campus. There’s food available in every corner, most of it fresh.

Both retreating and facing problems head-on has problems. As humans, we don’t always bode well with heavy tasks.

A retreat helps us with some short-lived relief. But, as you may have guessed before, the problems, the stressors that caused the stress are still there. You haven’t solved them yet. It also doubles up your anxiety when you have to finally deal with those again.

Stress is quite real. Here’s what you can do to feel less stressed. Research indicates that learning something new can help us relieve stress. Picking a new skill requires you to seek additional information and meet challenges.

Engaging in learning activities can help you not feel the detrimental impact of stress. You are better insulated against negative emotions. You don’t resort to unethical behavior too. Learning helps you build valuable resources you can put to use later on. It helps with additional skills that are useful in the long term and short term.

Learning Eases Stress

In two complementary studies, two scientists at Harvard, analyzed 300 U.S. employees from different organizations to learn about the stress they experience at work.

When dealing with stress they may resort to stealing– from company resources to lunch boxes. They can embellish records like timesheets and exhibit frequent rudeness to coworkers.

They analyzed employees who were either learning new stuff or relaxing at work to track what helped.

With the help of daily surveys, they tracked employee activity over two weeks. And the second study asked employees how they felt during the corresponding time period with a questionnaire.  Both studies measured the impact of engaging in learning activities as well as relaxation activities to see which made the biggest impact on stress.

From the first study, it was evident that those employees who engaged in learning a new skill engaged in less unethical behavior in the company. They felt less stressed too.

At the same time, engaging in relaxing activities had almost no impact on dealing with stress. Employees faced similar levels of stress, anxiety and other negative emotions.

To sum things up, learning a new skill can be an effective stress buster.