APA’s 2010 Stress in America survey suggests that stress has increased 44% between 2007-2010. And it keeps increasing. The primary triggers of stress, according to the survey, are work and money. With the average person spending roughly 90,000 hours of their life at work, chronic stress is no doubt a widespread modern epidemic. Some of largest contributors to work stress include: low salary, unreasonable workloads, dull or unfulfilling work, dead-end jobs, lack of communication, lack of support and lack of control.
How can we properly manage stress in the workplace? Below is a list of tips to help you manage daily stress at work in healthy ways:
- Relieve Your Body From Stress With Exercise. We’ve all heard about the damaging effects stress can have on the body: it increases our aging process, suppresses your immune system, increases cortisol and occurrence of free radicals. Combat the physical effects with regular exercise. The sound of exercise
- Eat A Clean, Whole Food Diet. When we say “whole foods,” we don’t just mean the chain grocery store. Whole foods include: fruits, leafy green vegetables, and unprocessed foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. These types of whole foods balance the body’s hormonal influxes brought on by chronic stress.
- Sleep, Sleep, Sleep. There’s a reason we spend ⅓ of our lifetime sleeping: it is the body’s primary time for recovery. If your sleep quality is hit-or-miss, try solidifying a before bed routine. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, just something to help your mind associate an activity with bedtime. That activity can be brushing your teeth, playing music, watching you favorite show or making a cup of tea. The simpler, the better.
- Document Your Triggers. Keep a journal at work (or on your phone) to easily jot down moments and scenarios where you feel particularly stressed. Look over you journal every week and look for patterns and triggers.
- Communicate Issues. Speak to your supervisor if you notice a routinely stressful situation at work. Maybe it will help if you move desks, come in an hour later to make time for morning exercise, or even talk work culture for a 30 minutes. If you feel you have something to express, respect your need and schedule a meeting.
- Develop Healthy Coping Behaviors. Communicating is hard, especially when you need to communicate something personal in a professional setting. It’s tempting (and socially acceptable) to react to stressful days with alcohol, comfort food or other vices. Ultimately this leads to a weaker immune system and possibly weaker willpower. Commit to one healthy coping behavior like running, cooking, yoga or time with friends.
- Be Clear About Your Boundaries. Due to smartphones and increased opportunity for remote work, there’s more pressure to be available around the clock. Establish off-work or “unplug” times throughout your week. Whether you unplug for one hour a day or a full day each week is up to you. The idea is to stick to this time like sanctuary.
- Explore De-stressing Techniques. Retrain your mind to focus on one thing at a time — the media has trained us to call this mindfulness. While the hype around mindfulness is a bit pushy, the idea of giving full attention to a single task at a time is nothing new. If you’re chronically stressed, it might sound like a terrible waste of time. But we urge you to give it a try, then give it another try. Just like strengthening our muscles, if it makes you uncomfortable at first, that means it’s working.
The thing about stress is, it has addictive qualities. We can become hooked on the adrenaline of deadlines and procrastination. We can create unhealthy mantras like “there’s never enough time” or “I never feel like I’ve done enough.” We can even begin to feel uneasy if stress momentarily escapes us. If you feel like stress has taken over your life, give Healing Minds a call. We’re here to help, wherever you’re at.