You have probably read a few articles on stress. I‘ve read some good ones over time and I’ve learned over my career that you need to go back to basics when it comes to stress management.
Fact: There is good stress and there is bad stress.
Statistics are consistent. There is enough research that suggests that stress will make you ill. According to the National Institute of Health in the US, 80 to 90 percent of all illnesses are either directly or indirectly linked to stress.
In another study, researchers found that more than 50 percent of Americans would be willing to take a day off work without pay in an effort to feel less stressed and have more time with their families.
Countless reports indicate that the majority of stress that people feel is due to work related issues such as time management (or lack thereof), workload, deadlines and dealing with difficult co-workers.
Good news: You can actually do something about stress in your day to day activities and get control over your life.
Cool tips for relieving workplace stress:
Eating Right. Avoid eating unhealthy snacks. Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet? Eating healthy food can increase your energy. Junk food will deplete your stamina.
Drink less caffeine. Drinking lots of coffee and soft drinks can increase your stress levels. I notice myself slowly starting to boil for such small issues especially after drinking coffee – this is crazy. If you can’t cut out caffeine beverages completely, try to alternate your caffeine intake with healthier drinks or food.
Exercise. Exercise is the best way to relieve stress. Like many professionals raising a family I would neglect my exercise time since I was too busy. That was wrong. If you take care of yourself first and then after, the ones that are dear to you, you will be able to take on a lot more of life’s stressful moments. I was always active in sports as a teenager, stopped in my twenties then rediscovered the virtues of fitness in my mid thirties. Right after a workout, jog or cycle I am reminded now of that amazing feeling that comes through your mind ( it actually lasts only for a few seconds) and then I think to myself ” nothing can bother me now” since my fitness session has completed drained me. Try it.
We’ll cover fitness in another post but if you are not currently active, consider taking a quick paced 10-minute walk during the day, even around the office or building. Walking will help to get your blood circulating and give you a mental break.
Stretch. Stretching can help to relieve stiff muscles, which can hold tension and make you feel more stressed. Stretch in the morning when you wake up (ever notice how dogs always stretch after they wake up… and I don’t remember getting comments from them on my blog). While sitting for more an hour at the computer, get up stretch, go for a little walk before you come back to your desk.
Rest. Are you getting enough sleep? We become moody or alternately laugh for just about any reason when we are tired but you may not notice what lack of sleep does in your ability to deal with stress. Not feeling rested can make you feel more overwhelmed. If you have been experiencing recurring sleepless nights, consult your physician. Guideline: minimum of 8 hours should be your goal as an adult – unless of course if you are physically fit, then you’ll notice that you need less sleep.
That extra little morning edge. Getting up 10-15 minutes earlier, and packing a lunch or getting your clothes ready the night before (yes I know this is difficult for the ladies), can help you get organized.
Avoid procrastination: One sure way to add to your stress is by putting off decisions and actions. But action itself will always reduce mounting stress. Try the simple trick of writing down all of the tasks that face you, however unpleasant. Then rearrange them in order of urgency, allot a definite time to each – and get them done.
E-mail jail. E-mail is the most common and pervasive form of communication and can be stressful to manage. Opening a full e-mail box can be overwhelming, not to mention time consuming. Here are 3 quick tips to avoid email stress:
1) Turn off the alarm or visual message and take control of your e-mail and your time.
2) Try to check your e-mail at regular times, i.e. early morning, mid-day and late afternoon. Even if you receive a high volume of e-mails, you shouldn’t check more than four times a day. Throw out the junk or respond immediately to those that require your attention.
3) Create short answers. Reduce the length and frequency of messages you receive. It’s acceptable to send back a message that simply reads “Done” or “Thanks”.
Breathing right. When we are stressed, we have a tendency to take shallow breaths, which can result in feeling more tense. Try this: Start by inhaling deeply through the nose by counting to 6 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and exhale for 3 seconds. Do this 5 times. Then change it around: inhale for 3 sec. hold for 6, exhale for 3. Then inhale for 3, hold for 3, exhale for 6 seconds. Concentrate on your counting and breath. You will notice how amazing this is in getting you in more relaxed state.
Think positive. Take a few minutes to reflect on the good things in life. Recognizing what you have (and at times take for granted) can instantly improve your mood and outlook.
Do things you enjoy. Try to do something for YOU or something you love every day to give yourself something to look forward to. Most stress arises due to feelings of being out of control and doing things for everybody else. By taking care of yourself, you can begin to gain control and ensure that your workday is as relaxed as possible. Spoil yourself.
Last point: Be objective
You will be much less vulnerable to feeling stressed if you take on the “don’t sweat the small stuff – mantra that is, the myriad of minor irritations in life…the stuff that when you think about it really won’t matter when you’re 90 years old. Remember that stress is always subjective; it’s your emotional reaction to an outside event.
Use any combination of these tips to fight the bad stress and let me know which one worked the best!