How to combat stress at work.
What does stress look like to you? Your computer crashes for the 9th time today, your boss tells you that your productivity levels need improving and your email inbox is so full it might burst, your phone keep ringing and your report is overdue… Does this sound familiar? Most people would agree that at times their job can cause them stress.
At work, as in life, there are many things that we cannot control. While some stress is a normal part of work life and moderate amounts of stress can be stimulating, excessive stress can interfere with productivity and affect your physical and emotional health. The better you combat stress at work, the better you will perform at your job.
1. See the big picture
Ask your boss what are your key tasks. Be clear about your job objectives and how you can add value to your department. Don’t get bogged down by your various tasks. Prioritise and do one task at a time.
2. Take time out
Have a relaxing chat with your colleague or friend, complete some desk based stretches or pop out for a walk on your break to buy a healthy snack. Getting a breath of fresh air will help you to cool off your feelings of stress, anger or irritation.
3. Don’t smoke, eat or consume caffeine as a means to manage stress
Nicotine is a stimulant which can lead to higher levels of anxiety. Coffee contains caffeine which can raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also has a mild addictive effect. To relax your mind, drink less coffee.
Stress may also make you reach for junk food, such as crisps and buscuits which are high calorie snacks. Where possible, try to reduce snacking. When you must snack, eat healthily and stock up your work desk with healthy alternatives, such as:
- Soy chips
- Small packets of nuts and dried fruits like raisins
- Whole wheat crackers
- Fruits and vegetables
4. Escape for an instant
Think of one instance in your life when you were happy and relaxed. Hold that image in your mind for at least one minute. Keep a picture of your favourite landscape on your desk and look at it when you are stressed.
5. Don’t overwork yourself
If you over-commit by taking on too many projects with unrealistic deadlines, you will not only lose credibility at work but you will also stress yourself out unnecessarily. If you can delegate or share the responsibility for some projects, go ahead.
6. Get enough rest
Give your body the sleep it needs – at least seven to nine hours a night. Your stress levels will drop when you are well rested and you will be able to take on your job challenges with more composure.
7. Get adequate exercise
Regular exercise is not only important in keeping you physically healthy but it also promotes mental wellbeing. Exercise produces endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, leading to improved sleep and reduced stress levels. World Health Organization recommends that healthy adults should target to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity a week.
8. Don’t be so hard on yourself
Much of our stress is self-imposed. Most of us set targets regarding desired salaries or positions on the corporate ladder. When we don’t achieve our targets, we get stressed and depressed. Recognise that success is in the eye of the beholder, and that ambitions take time, opportunity and, often, luck to materialise. Don’t take yourself too seriously.