Stress is undoubtedly the silent killer at workplaces today. It lurks in the shadows, depletes your energy, sacks your concentration, and shakes your confidence. Your co-workers talk about it in hushed tones (if at all), and your boss is in denial of its very existence.
Countless studies stand testimony to the fact that excess stress can cause real physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain, and trouble sleeping. That’s not to mention its role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
According to a survey, “Working in Asia” by Roffey Park, it found that not only do Singaporean workers spend more hours at work relative to their Hong Kong and China peers, more than half (52 percent of Singapore workers surveyed) said their stress levels have gone up over the last six months. Among Hong Kong workers, the figure is 43 percent and China workers, 45 percent.
It further found that workload, lack of support and organisational politics are the top three sources of workplace stress for workers across China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Stressful jobs further lower life expectancy; however certain amount of healthy stress is a good thing.
Experts make a distinction between eustress (good) and distress (bad), while pointing out that eustress is actually necessary for individuals to make breakthroughs and companies to grow. Eustress is motivating. It keeps you on task and helps you cross the finish the line. Distress is debilitating, and occurs when the good stress builds up and becomes too much to cope with.
Negative work stress can come from a variety of factors, some of them include:
How do you know if your stress levels are out of control? Here are a few warning signs:
The key is to manage stress so it remains at a healthy level and doesn’t become overwhelming. In the Infographic below, we’ll take a look a look at the alarming costs of workplace stress, the warning signs that you’re too stressed, and 6 simple methods for reducing that stress – so you can get back to work with renewed spirits and high on motivation.
6 Simple Strategies to Manage Stress in your Day-to-Day Lives
These tried and tested methods below, have great effects on reducing workplace stress. Here are they:
While the negative effects of stress are very real, much of the stress we experience can be alleviated simply by talking about it. That’s why positive relationships at work are so important. Even if they can’t solve your problems, the simple act of verbalizing your stress with someone you trust can actually reduce the severity – or clear it up altogether.
Additionally, friendships can take your mind off the stressors and provide a buffer between your daily tasks and your negative thoughts.
Here are some tips for fostering positive personal relationships at work:
See: Those in High-Stress Jobs with Little Control over their Workflow Die Younger: Study Finds
With its mood-boosting and endorphin-releasing properties, regular aerobic exercise is a natural stress reducer.
Exercise’s ability to elevate mood is well documented. Numerous studies going back to the early 80’s found that regular exercise can improve mood for people with moderate depression. In fact, a 1999 study found that exercise was just as effective of eliminating depression antidepressants.
Exercise also helps get your mind off your stressful thoughts. By training yourself to be in the moment and focus on your body’s movements (rather than mulling over your worries), exercise can be a form of active meditation and have a calming effect on the body and mind. You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity each day.
Ever heard the phrase “eat your feelings”? It’s a real phenomenon. Many people turn to unhealthy “comfort foods” as a way to manage stress.
Why does this happen? When we’re stressed, our brain releases the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave salty, sweet, and fat-laden foods for the temporary pleasure they bring.
But ironically, “stress eating” only exacerbates the problem. Sugar or fat-laden foods like pizza, burgers, and ice cream make us feel lethargic, and less likely to tackle the problems that lay before us, which in turn only increases our stress.
That’s why it’s so important to eat healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates that fuel our brains and support concentration and focus.
Stress has long been linked to chronic insomnia. But while conventional wisdom treats the inability to sleep as a symptom of stress, researchers at Harvard medical school found that poor sleep may actually be a contributing factor. That’s because a lack of sleep inhibits your ability to cope with even normal amounts of stress, and negatively affects your mood and outlook.
The point is, you can’t hope to reduce stress when you’re on edge and irritable from lack of sleep. Here are some tips to get your sleep schedule back on track:
Feeling overwhelmed is a major stressor. A great way to handle and reduce stress is by prioritising and organising your to-do lists and goals. Here’s how you can do it:
Managing stress is partially about your mindset. Your outlook can have a huge impact on your ability to cope with everyday stressors. Keep them in check so they don’t become major sources of negative stress.
Here are a few tips to change your mindset by break the bad habits that are holding you back:
Follow the tactics outlined here to bring your stress level back down into the healthy range so you can continue to experience breakthroughs and create some real magic for yourself.
Author credit: Jeff Murphy is the Director of Communications at SnackNation. He’s obsessed with helping you create an Awesome Office.
This article originally appeared here.
Also read: Elevated Stress Levels and Heavy Workloads are soon becoming a Workplace Epidemic
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