Everybody gets stressed from time to time. The problem is that some people stay stressed all the time, which is simply not good for you. Stress is a serious issue in the workplace. It can drain your concentration, make you doubt the quality of your work, and make relationships difficult. If it goes unchecked, stress can be deadly. So how do you work to eliminate stress from your workplace? One step at a time.
Researchers have noted that if you have too much stress in your life, it takes a toll on your body. It can cause headaches, as well as a worsening of migraine symptoms. Excess stress can also give you digestive issues and ulcers. Stress can increase your blood pressure, and cause chest pains, and sleep disorders. If you have mood disorders, stress can make them worse.
Stress in the Workplace
Research on stress in the workplace revealed stress results in over $190 billion in medical expenses for Americans each year. Sixty-five percent of Americans stated the majority of their stress is related to work.
The Difference between Good Stress and Bad Stress at Work
Researchers say there is a difference between good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). If you are experiencing eustress, that is a good thing. It is sometimes necessary for motivation. Workers who have eustress meet deadlines. Distress on the other hand, is not motivating—in fact, it is the opposite. Distress makes workers call in sick, miss deadlines, and quit working or separate from the workplace. Experts say that people who carry a lot of bad stress worry about losing their jobs. They also worry that they will never be good enough to meet their boss’s expectations. They are also asked to work too hard for too long with no break.
Warning Signs of too Much Stress
There are warning signs that you may have too much stress in your life. If you are depressed often—which could show up as anger or irritability—you may have too much stress. You may also withdraw from things you used to enjoy. You no longer care about your work. You have problems sleeping, and you are tired during your workday. Your concentration is off. You have muscle tension or tension headaches often. You may also try and control your stress levels with drugs or alcohol. If you see yourself in any of the warning signs for stress, you may want to look at ways to decrease your stress level.
Reducing Workplace Stress
Psychiatrists and counselors that study stress say there are several different ways you can work to reduce your stress level. Here are a few ways to begin to reduce stress in the workplace.
Make Lasting Friendships or Relationships at Work
Research has shown that talking to someone you trust about your stress reduces your stress level. Friends at work allow you to laugh at yourself, and they talk you out of depressed moods and negative thoughts. Besides, work buddies can become after-work buddies as well, which gives you more people to hang out with. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Get Your Exercise
If you don’t have an exercise program, you need to start. Exercise gives you endorphins, which are natural stress reducers. Regular exercise elevates your mood and may even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise also means that you escape stress (at least for a while). Exercise works to focus and calm your mind, which in turn, calms your body. You should work toward 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Eat Better Than You Are Eating Right Now
Yes, we’re talking about you. While many people eat “bad” foods to reduce their stress, in reality, you make your stress worse. Sugary or fatty foods only make us more stressed, because they slow our bodies down. Instead, opt for healthy meals that work to fuel your body. Complex carbohydrates, fruits, veggies, dark chocolate and lean proteins work to fuel your body and make it more efficient.
Try to Sleep Better
We know this part is hard, but you need to get as much sleep as you can. Aim for eight hours a night. It’s a tall order, but stress is directly linked to insomnia. Stress and insomnia combined makes for a much harder work-life balance. If you have to, try and cat nap for 15-20 minutes during the middle of the day. You will wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
Learn to Prioritize or Organize Your Life More Effectively
Often, stress comes from not being able to figure out which items on your to-do list need to get done first. If you can’t figure out which items need to get taken care of first, here are some hints. First, you may need to sit down with your boss and go over your goals for the job. It could be you are trying to do too much, and some of your workload could be shifted around. Second, make sure all your priorities tie back to your goals. Third, you can only focus on two or three things at once. Once you’ve eliminated those things on your to-do list, you can move on. Trying to focus on everything at once just leaves you distracted. For each item on your to-do list, set a deadline. If you don’t, you may forget some tasks; until your boss asks where something is. Be sure that you use your calendar. Have a look at it every day, and plan your weeks out in advance. While you’re scheduling, you need to schedule yourself a break as well—or that catnap we were talking about earlier.
Stress is inevitable. At one time or another, you are going to get stressed at work. Maybe you missed a deadline, or someone at work is aggravating you by missing their deadline. However, there are ways you can effectively manage your stress so that it does not take over your life. If you prioritize what is important, and make time for yourself, you can lower your stress. Lowering stress leads to a healthier life and a more productive you. In the end, if you can learn how to manage your stress, there’s nothing you won’t be able to accomplish.
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