It’s likely that you will experience some degree of stress while at work. Stress is a normal response to the demands placed upon you, and in short bursts, it can be useful to help you stay alert and perform at your best. However, exposure to too much stress can have a huge effect on both your mental and physical health, impacting on every aspect of your life.
Having some go-to techniques to help you deal with stress more effectively is a positive step to help minimise the adverse effects, calm the frantic mind and that over-whelming feeling.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress relief. What works for one person might not work for another. What works for you in one situation might not be as effective in another. So, it’s important to have a variety of stress relief tools at your disposal. Why not give these a try:
Applying time-management principles and making sure that you are well organised can go a long way towards helping you reduce your daily stress. Consider your priorities and delegate or discard unnecessary tasks. Map out your day, setting aside time for the different tasks that you need to complete, and schedule the most difficult tasks for when you are fresh, such as first thing in the morning. Set yourself realistic deadlines and don’t take on more that you can manage.
Make time to relax and recharge
Taking some time out for yourself to regroup and recharge is essential for both preventing and managing stress. Some examples to try:
- Get outside and go for a walk during your breaks
- Meditation and mindfulness – there are some great apps to help guide you
- Sit quietly and take ten deep, full breathes – feeling the expansion of your chest as you breathe in, and the fall as you breathe out.
- Take your holiday leave and make sure that you have a complete break away from work
Talk it out
Keeping your worries and concerns bottled up will only increase your stress. If something is bothering you at work, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to people you trust, like friends, family, or co-workers, about what’s on your mind. Even if you’re not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open and know you are not alone. If it is an ongoing issue, talk with your employer, human resources manager or EAP Assist.
If you are uncomfortable talking, try writing your worries and concerns down. The act of getting them out of your head and on to paper can be enough to give perspective and provide some calm.
Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress in any aspect of your life. Making time before or after work to move your body and boost your heart rate can help relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Make sure you chose an activity that you enjoy. Trying to do something that you don’t enjoy will only add to your stress and you are unlikely to stick to it. You could also consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, or Pilates.
Focus on eating well
All too often when we’re overwhelmed, we forget to eat well, resorting to using high-fat, high-sugar foods as a pick-me-up. This however only results in large spikes and falls in your blood sugar levels, which actually increase stress and anxiety. These are some things you can try:
- Avoid sugary snacks by planning ahead – have a piece of fruit or some nuts on hand if you know you are likely to feel hungry.
- Take a healthy lunch to work with you – this will keep you away from the temptation of vending machines or takeaway.
- Ensure you have a good portion of lean protein in your day, such as eggs, chicken, fish or tofu.
- Add a portion of vegetables or a salad to lunch or dinner.
- Try to minimise stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine – these will only increase your stress in the long run.
Stress can and will cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of sync, which escalates over time. Whilst eight hours is the recommended, any additional sleep you can get will have an impact – even if it’s just an extra 30 minutes, you can build to the full eight hours over time. Some things to try include:
- Set and stick to a regular bed and wake time, even on the weekends.
- Turn off screens 30-60 minutes before bed.
- Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.
- Dim the lights in the evening to help wind down.
- Read a calm, undemanding book before bed.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
Stress does affect us all; it is an unavoidable condition of everyday life. Even just implementing one of the above suggestions may just give you enough relief to help you manage your stress better than you have been, and help you tackle the demands of work.