There is no doubt that we endure stressful situations every day. In today's work world, it is inevitable that stress and anxiety will occur. The key is learning how to cope with stress. Firstly, let's take a look at why stress is such a concern.
Dangers of Stress
- Stress has been linked to various diseases. This is especially a concern to those who are more susceptible to disease. Chronic stress has been linked to; cancer, lung disease, accident fatalities and suicide occurrences.
- Mental health issues (e.g. depression and anxiety disorders).
- Negatively affects how we control our emotions (e.g. more prone to 'lose our cool').
- Cause issues within pregnancy.
- Affect your love life (e.g. high levels of stress have been shown to decrease sex drive).
- Can damage your heart muscles. Stress hormones cause your heart to overwork while your blood is being constricted.
- Age you more rapidly.
- Weaken your immune system.
- Damage your teeth (e.g. grinding teeth).
- Make you gain weight. A study found that when people were placed in a stressful situation, they ate 40% more than normal.
As you can see, stress is dangerous. It is not only a threat to your health, but your overall well-being. If you are a stressful person, do not be concerned. As mentioned, stress is a normal part of life and is inevitable. It is HOW you deal with these stressful situations that matters.
Tips to Control Your Stress Levels
- Breathe: Whenever you have been upset, I am sure that someone has told you to take deep breathes. There is more logic behind this than catching your breathe. When we are stressed, our bodies think that we are in some sort of danger. This is innate in us from our ancestors. Adrenaline kicks in and your heart beats faster. Your body thinks that you need to flee a situation. If you take big, deep breathes; you will tell your body that you aren't in any immediate danger. This will help to slow your heart rate down.
- Speak to someone: As humans we need connections and relationships. We are social beings and like to be comforted by others. If you are upset, talk to those closest to you. This can be a parent, spouse, boss, friend, co-worker, teacher, etc. Use the positive relationships in your life to decrease your stress levels. If problems persist with anxiety, you can speak to your doctor or psychologist if you're highly concerned.
- Write: For some, a journal or diary are great release mechanisms. This is your opportunity to express your feelings. Writing down emotions and thoughts, is a great form of therapy for some.
- Focus on something else: Do something you enjoy. Go out with some friends, work on your painting or garden. Whatever brings you a sense of calmness and enjoyment is encouraged.
- Meditate: Meditation can be a very powerful stress reliever. You do not need to leave the comfort of your home for this. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit. Focus on breathing and simply relax.
Stress in the Workplace
There is no doubt that work has a lot to do with our stress levels. We work hard, so it is no surprise that 40% of adults say that they lay awake at night due to stress. In order to decrease or eliminate stress in the workplace you can take certain measures. Some of these possible measures are:
- Eliminate interruptions: If you need to focus, close your office door. Designate a certain time within the day to response to emails and instant messages. You cannot control interruptions, but you can control how you respond to these distractions.
- Take short breaks: If you are working for the full eight hours at work, you are bound to be less productive. When you are less productive, stress levels increase. Don't be afraid to take a short break here and there to stretch or walk around. This will clear your mind and allow you to re-focus.
- Eat right: Bring a lunch to work or buy a healthy option. Your body needs energy to run efficiently. Not eating properly has been linked to negative mood changes. Make sure you are fuelling your body for all the work you're doing.
- Prioritize: Do not get overwhelmed by deadlines, simply organize yourself. Decide what needs to be done first and focus solely on that. Once that is completed, move onto your next task. You can only fully focus on one thing at a time; decide what is your priority and move forward.
- Add personal touches: Being surrounded by comforting touches will allow you to feel more relaxed. Place family pictures on your desk, or invest in some beautiful plants.
So, next time you feel stressed, remember some of these tips. Remember that you are in control; don't let stress get you down. If you are conscious of your stress levels, you can begin to manage them.
Goudreau, J. (March, 2103). 12 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work. Forbes. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/
Krans, B. (August, 2013). 8 Ways Stress Is More Dangerous Than You Think. Healthline. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from http://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-eight-ways-stress-harms-your-health-082713
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