Stress is a funny thing. In small doses it can be great for you but in large doses it can be very bad, even lethal. Unfortunately, most of us get more stress than is safe for us, especially in the workplace. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips and tricks that you can begin using right away to reduce your levels of stress in the workplace and other areas of your life.
If you regularly experience any of the following symptoms, then you are very likely a victim of excessive stress in the workplace: a depressed mood, loss of interest in work, problems sleeping, unusual fatigue during the day, inability to concentrate, headaches and stomach problems, decreased libido and increased reliance on drugs or alcohol to cope with the pressure.
The sources of problematic work stress are many. The most common ones are job security, long hours, constantly rising expectations and constant pressure to work at peak efficiency. While eliminating these stressors will reduce your stress levels, elimination is often impractical. However, there are ways to manage your stress levels so that they don’t get out of control and take over your life.
Exercise is a proven mood enhancer and causes the body to release stress busting substances like endorphins. It’s also great at getting your mind off the things that are causing you to stress out. During exercise you’re focused on your body’s movements in the moment and not on other things and this results in a kind of active meditation and has a huge calming effect on both body and mind. 30 minutes of exercise each day is the recommended minimum.
Even if you find yourself left with no time or motivation to fit in a run or some time at the gym, apps like ayubo.life are a great way to be a part of fitness challenges that will motivate you to get moving even while working. Other ways to fit in some exercise include getting others at your workplace to commit to some form of exercise a few days a week, changing your desk set up to an active one that lets you work standing some of the time, and maybe even walking around while on calls.
Stress can ruin your eating habits and bad eating habits result in even more stress. It’s a vicious cycle. So choose to eat good healthy food like complex carbs, high fiber foods like fruits and veggies, super foods like dark chocolate and avocados, which are high in anti-oxidants along with mood elevating compounds and choose lean proteins like chicken and fresh fish. When snacking, snack on healthy foods like nuts and fruit and not on processed foods.
Avoid excessive fat and refined sugar, caffeinated beverages that wreak havoc on your sleep (yes coffee too), nicotine and alcohol. It might seem like a smoke, drink or cup of coffee will make you feel better, and while it may temporarily do so, over the long term they just add to the problem.
Sleep is often the most overlooked part of a healthy lifestyle. Stress only makes matters worse by interfering with your sleep. Your body resets itself during sleep and poor sleep will only increase the damage that stress can do to you.
Try to sleep at least 8 hours a night, stick to a schedule so your body’s internal clock can follow a pattern, don’t sleep in on weekends as this interferes with your body clock, stay away from screens an hour before bed and take a short 15 minute nap from time to time during the day as needed.
Humans are social animals and having meaningful, fulfilling relationships at home and at work help build a support system that lets you deal with stress effectively. But good relationships take time and effort to build, so put down your phone and get talking with those close to you. Do things together and form meaningful bonds.
One reason we’re stressed out is because we often have so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Organizing and prioritizing what you have to do will give you much needed direction and the confidence to conquer all that you have to do.
These are all ways to manage stress and everyone often has their own way of doing it. But when managing stress try to find a strategy that will work over the long term even if it’s difficult, rather than turning to short term stress relief, which may only exacerbate the problem down the road. The most important thing is to preserve yourself and your body because, as the old saying goes, health is wealth.