How often do you feel stressed at work? Most of us feel a certain amount of stress every single day, and whilst a small amount can be motivating and actually useful, a large amount can be very damaging to health and well-being in general.
Stress is a hot topic. A lot of research and studying has gone into the effects of stress on the human body and mind, and none of the results are particularly pleasing. Stress isn’t something you need to be welcoming into your life if you can help it, but it’s vital to be able to manage small amounts of stress in the right way.
At work, it’s totally normal to experience a particular busy period, e.g. perhaps towards the end of the financial year, when you’re trying to get all of your accounts in order, perhaps when you’re in the middle of an office refurbishment, or when you’re trying to pull together a big project by a deadline date. These are normal things we encounter whilst we’re working, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel stressful at the same time! So, because a small amount of stress is inevitable, how can we learn to manage that stress in a healthy way, and even use it to push us on to achieve greater levels of success?
First things first, let’s really drive home the damaging nature of stress, to highlight the issue.
The Dangers of Stress
When stress reaches dangerous levels, it can be hard to think about anything else. The main dangers of stress to the mind and body are:
• An increased risk of heart problems, including heart attack and stroke
• High blood pressure, which also increases the risk of stroke
• Stress increases the chances of developing anxiety and depression, which all work hand in hand and are very closely linked
• Affects sleep in a negative way, which brings sleep deprivation problems into the fore
• Affects appetite, and can lead you to make unhealthy food choices, e.g. skipping meals or binging on fast food for quickness’ sake
• You may become irritable with those around you, which may damage relationships
• Problems focusing and concentrating on anything
• An increased chance of turning to unhealthy habits to cope, e.g. alcohol, smoking, or drugs
Keeping stress at bay is vital, because once it gets its grip on your life, you will find it harder to cope, and much harder to shake it. Stress also negatively affects your performance at work, because your lack of focus can lead you to make uncharacteristic mistakes such as missing deadlines, and basically perform at a much lower level than you would otherwise do.
How to Manage Stress Levels
Okay, now it’s time to get practical! We know what stress is and we know it’s nothing good, so how can you manage the whole deal, and keep your stress levels low and motivating, and not high and debilitating?
Plan a Vacation Carefully
If you know that you have a big project coming up, or you know that you have a busy time of year looming, plan a vacation or holiday for shortly afterwards. This will give you something to look forward to, keep your mind positive, and will also allow you to refresh your mind and body after the busy time is over. Regular breaks are vital, whether you jet off to a tropical beach or simply chill out at home on the sofa, so make sure that you put priority on them.
Always Take Your Lunch Break
You are given a lunch break for a reason, take it! Most of us aren’t paid for that hour or half an hour which we have for lunch, so why are you working without pay? Take your break and head outside. This will clear your mind, keep everything in perspective, and allow you to breathe, without the pressure of the workplace bearing down on you. If you’re an employer, look at putting into place some comfortable canteen furniture for your staff, such as canteen chairs, where they can go and relax during lunch times with bad weather.
Declutter Your Life
Having a space which is clear and clean is a very motivating thing, so declutter your workspace and see how much more free you feel mentally. You will find this gives you a boost of energy and you may be able to tick a few extra things off your to-do list, thus reducing your stress and boosting your confidence. It really can be that simple! It could also be a good idea to look at changing up your office workspace, so look at some luxurious office furniture to add extra comfort to proceedings, with a few luxury office chairs thrown in for good measure!
In addition, look at your home space and streamline jobs which would otherwise take up space in your mind. Can you delegate some chores to your older children? Can you pay for a cleaner to get you through this busy time and give you a break? Think about your options and put a few of them in place.
Cut Down on Social Media
Social media is one of the biggest stress problems around! You might think that your hour or so scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is relaxing, but it’s actually causing your brain to stress itself out even more. We compare ourselves to others without knowing about it, and this can cause us even more stress in our lives. You don’t need to add flames to a fire, so cut down the amount of time you spend on social media, and keep that limit at a healthy level.
Exercise is Key
One of the single best stress busters around is exercise. On your lunch break, go for a power walk outside, or perhaps join the gym and head there after work. If you love to swim, that is a great way to reduce stress, because it incorporates the tranquility of nature in the water. Basically, whatever works for you, but get moving and get your heart pumping. This will release adrenaline and happy hormones, allowing you to beat your stress levels right back down to minimal.
Look After Number One
You are the most important person in your life, remember that at all times. For this reason, factor in some ‘me’ time, and make sure you look after yourself at all times. Eat healthy meals, do some exercise, head out and see your friends, do the things you love, be it watching a film or reading a book, and basically make sure you understand that relaxation time is just as important as working.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Stress can detrimentally affect sleep, so it’s important to make sure that you get plenty of sleep to counteract those effects. Try some relaxation techniques before you go to bed, such as playing relaxing music, avoiding anything which is overstimulating, go for a warm bath, or drink some hot milk. These are all ways to wind down, but make sure that you avoid using your phone in bed, by checking your Facebook - this is a big reason why people don’t sleep!
Remember Your Limitations
At the end of the day, you are a human being, and that means knowing that you have limits. You are not Superman and you are not Wonder Woman, and you need to work to those limits, without pushing them too far. Yes, it’s good to push yourself to meet your potential, but that doesn’t mean pushing the bar too far and ending up burning out.
It’s normal to have times in life when you have more to do than other times, and when you’re going to be running around a little more, and it’s okay to have times when you’re just a little less productive than you normally would be- this is normal! What isn’t normal is pushing yourself to the point of breaking and putting your health at risk as a result.
These are all ways you can manage stress successfully, but the most important thing to remember is that ‘me’ time is one of the most useful ways to conquer this problem. Having a good home and work-life balance is vital.
Of course, if you’re an employer, you can do a lot to help your staff manage stress too, as well as ensuring that their working environment is comfortable. Check out office furniture near me choices online for some inspiration, such as funky office bench desks and ergonomic chairs. Stress works in strange ways, and the ways to battle, it can be just as strange!
How about you, have you any useful and creative ways to manage stress during particular busy times at work? Share them and let’s build up a database of useful ideas!