We’ve all got workplace stress. Some of us handle it really well, others — not so much. Workplace stress is on the rise and it has incredibly negative impacts on our physical and mental health and our relationships.

Many people think if they just put a few more hours in, they’ll get on top of their overwhelm and reduce their stress. Working more is not the solution.

Research found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours — so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours.

So, if working more isn’t going to solve your problems, what can you do?

More importantly, what should you stop doing?

Stop doing these three things for a week and watch your stress levels plummet.

  1. Stop working when you’re not at work. Stop checking your email after hours. When you don’t disconnect, you never get a break. Your stress goes up, your productivity goes down and your health and relationships suffer.

Numerous studies have found that overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, including:

Of course, those are bad on their own. But they’re also terrible for a company’s bottom line, showing up as absenteeism, turnover, and rising health insurance costs.

You’re not doing yourself or your company any favours when you don’t disconnect. When you’re at home, put down the phone. Be present and connect with people you love. Research has shown that having strong relationships is the best way to protect our mental and physical health. When you disconnect and get some down time, your stress goes down, your relationships improve and your productivity increases.

2. Stop taking things personally. 90% of what other people do isn’t about you, it’s about them. We get into conflict at work because we take other people’s behaviour personally. Some people can be really difficult to deal with. When you take their behaviour personally, you dramatically increase your own stress. Rather than getting caught up in another person’s drama and bad behaviour, let it roll right off of you. Instead of experiencing anxiety and stress, you’ll feel calm and relaxed.

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

3. Stop thinking work is the most important part of your life. It’s not. Not by a long shot. And if it is, I suggest you re-think your priorities. When you take work less seriously, you get way less stressed out by what’s happening at work.

When you view work as part of your identity rather than the whole of it, it changes your perspective. Work gives us many things but not everything. Research coming out of Harvard’s recent 75 year-long study on what makes a good life argues that good relationships lead to a long and fulfilling life. Prioritize building good relationships over spending extra hours at work.

All of these are very simple ideas. Simple but difficult to put into practice. But it’s worth it. Your physical and mental health and your relationships are far too important not to. Choose one of these three things to stop doing and you’ll find yourself more relaxed and more productive.