Stress at work affects roughly 40% of the population. Sometimes a little pressure is a good thing – it can help some to achieve things they didn’t think they could manage. Stress is a bad thing, however, if left unmanaged and over a prolonged period of time it can affect health, relationships and the ability to function well.
Here are five tips to coping with stress at work:
1. Gain control : We suffer from stress when things are out of control so take steps to correct this as much as possible. If you are continuously interrupted by emails, chats or phone calls then create time slots. Only read emails at set times, set aside an hour for drop-in discussions and only answer calls at designated periods. Diarise them, make everyone aware, use your email signature and even post-it notes to communicate this. Move desks, or close your door if possible but send out a clear message that this is how you work. This leaves you time to get on with projects, admin or reports so you can meet deadlines.
2. Eat yourself healthy : Make sure you eat well even if you are pushed for time and don’t be tempted to tuck into junk food. Be prepared by bringing in fruit, nuts, water and herbal teas. You will have a clearer head, better digestion, level blood sugars and a less irritable attitude.
3. Take regular breaks : Some places make you feel like breaks are for wimps, but this is short sighted. People are less productive as they tire, so take yourself away from work every few hours. Leave your desk, get outside if you can, change rooms, speak about something other than work, read a paper or call family. Allow your mind to be distracted, move your limbs and come back firing on all cylinders!
4. Exercise : When you are pressurised, the body goes into fight or flight mode and releases chemicals. A controlled way of ridding these from the body is by exercising so do something you enjoy like cycling, dancing, running or power-walking. You owe it to yourself to always make time for this and you will feel more in control.
5. Sleep tight : We need rested sleep to make good judgements, but if you are stressed, this can be difficult. Stop work, of any kind, a couple of hours before bedtime. Have a warm bath, listen to calming music, practise deep breathing, make the bedroom blissfully comfortable and use soft lighting. Try to distract your thoughts by reading something light-hearted or listening to a radio play. And keep regular hours, even at the weekend, by getting up and going to bed a set times to keep your body on an even keel.