The Simple Way To Leave Your Stress At Work

And no, it doesn’t involve the words happy or hour.

The Simple Way To Leave Your Stress At Work

There a few things in life that are inevitable. Death and taxes we all know about. Better add getting totally freaked out by your job to the list.


While we already understand a few ways to meet our anxieties as they come, what would be really great is if someone could tell us how to leave our jerk-face boss‘s demands at the office where they belong.

Turns out we only need to write it down.

Less stress, noted briefly

Joan Didion said that people who keep a journal are different creatures than those who don’t–maybe because they’re less flummoxed by their jobs.

Why? Research led by the University of Minnesota finds that noting (at the end of the day) the best parts of your day helps to reduce your stress levels–so you’ll be able to unclench your fists by the time you hit dinner.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the researchers tracked a group of workers for 15 days, tracking their blood pressure and stress symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches. What led to lesser stress levels? Workers writing down accomplishments from the day, like nailing a presentation or scoring on a sales call.

This doesn’t mean we need to rush into instituting mandatory journaling time, Minnesota organizations professor Theresa Glomb tells the Journal. Instead, the more-positive prompt can be embedded within your work flow, for instance, by sharing the highlights of your week during a meeting.


What’s fascinating is the way that this links up with other research on reflection. Teresa Amabile, coauthor of the Progress Principle and a director of research at the Harvard Business School, has noted that making a ritual of noting your progress nurtures your well-being at work–which, by the way, makes people more engaged, creative, and productive. And work with war veterans has shown that writing–even more than painting or playing music–about your traumas helps you find meaning in them.

So it’s not just that productive people take better notes, but that resilient people note what’s making them feel better.

Hat tip: the Wall Street Journal

[Image: Flickr user Sam Wolff]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.