Stress has become a normal part of life. It affects people of all ages, genders, races, and circumstances. And while we all cope differently with it, there is no way to avoid it completely. Stress is also not always a negative thing. It can sometimes provide the motivation and focus that we need to help us overcome a difficult task or situation.
However, when stress becomes chronic, it will have negative effects on our physical and mental health. Countless studies show that excess stress can cause real physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain and trouble sleeping. That’s not to mention its role in mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
In the workplace, we are often exposed to a number of stress triggers on a daily basis. Deadlines, a heavy workload, having to manage difficult clients or conflict between co-workers, and not getting enough time off are just some factors that lead to chronic stress at work. Stress is one of the biggest culprits of high turnover, low engagement, and stagnant teams. What makes it more difficult is that stress and anxiety often lie beneath the surface, impossible for leaders to detect, let alone address.
16 Tips for Managing Stress
1. Recognize and admit that stress exists
You cannot do anything about something that you do not acknowledge is present.
2. Watch out for signs
These include anxiety and depression, loss of interest in work, difficulty in sleeping and daily fatigue. These may cause you to become less effective and productive.
3. Make time
Or manage your time in such a day that you can develop and implement strategies to manage the stress. Most stress management strategies require a commitment to taking the time to practice them.
4. Take care of your physical health
Try to exercise at least three times a week, ensure that you get enough sleep every night (not too much and not too little), and follow a balanced and healthy diet. Take in less fatty foods, less sugar, and more fruits, with a balanced meal. Drink more water, especially at work.
5. Be organized
Focus on a more balanced schedule that does not put too much pressure on you. Give yourself more breaks during the day.
6. Work on your emotional intelligence (EQ)
Irrespective of how stressful your job is, you can still retain a healthy amount of self-control by managing how you deal with external stimuli.
7. Don’t self-medicate
Using alcohol or illegal drugs to manage the symptoms of stress can have very negative effects on your mental health and can lead to substance abuse. Seek medical help if necessary.
8. Find time to do the things you enjoy
Whether it is playing sports, reading a book, listening to music, or spending time outdoors, it is important to make time to do activities that help you recharge. According to Harvard Medical School, repetitive, calming activities such as fly-fishing can replicate meditation in the brain. Hugging a tree or forest bathing has been scientifically shown to improve your state of mind. And if you can, “taking in the waters” in hot springs or pools fed by the earth can be a huge stress-reliever.
9. Act at your own pace
But do so with decisiveness. Take things in at your natural speed. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into the chaos of the world.
10. Don’t accept your own excuses
Real change comes only from the real action. Commit to a goal and stay with it.
11. Single-task, not multitask
Multi-tasking is often confused with the capacity to adapt to our fast-paced and digitally dominated society. Better performers are associated with the ability to focus and be attentive to a task, doing one thing at a time.
12. Go ahead and daydream
If done mindfully, it can boost your happiness and health.
It goes without saying that stress can cause sleep problems, and sleep disorders can ultimately be life-threatening. Sleep and stress cycles become bitterly nerve-ending. Get your sleep sorted, even if it means seeking professional help when all other techniques fail.
14. Make use of your support network
It can be tempting to isolate yourself during times of extreme stress, but even just speaking to someone close to you when times are difficult can help.
15. Speak to your manager or supervisor if you need support
In the workplace, people often keep quiet when they are struggling, because they are afraid of being seen in a negative light. But no one will be able to assist unless they know you need help.
16. Drink less alcohol
A 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicated that cortisol – a stress hormone – is released when alcohol is consumed. Instead of alleviating stress, it exacerbates it. While our body self-regulates cortisol by way of the hypothalamus, excessive exposure to the hormone can cause depression, anxiety disorders, weight gain, and hair loss.
Foods to help you conquer your stress
Whether in a whole nut form or milk, almonds should be your daily staple.
High in good fats, avocados are also importantly full of potassium, which helps to counter anxiety, irritability, depression, and tension.
These also provide a potassium boost, although they are more calorie-dense.
You can eat them until you are blue in the face. A rich source of vitamin C, blueberries have high levels of anthocyanin. This boosts circulation, reduces the risk of heart disease, and lowers cholesterol.
Chamomile tea has been shown for centuries as a bedtime soother. Drunk regularly, chamomile can also help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. It relaxes the muscles and has a sedative effect on the central nervous system.
A lot of our stress manifests and is stored in our jaw. Eating raw vegetables such as carrots releases the tension held in our faces. And carrots provide a good source of beta-carotene.