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Lifestyle: Stress in the workplace

13 Mar 2020

By guest columnist Anna Bartle

Most of us have felt stressed or anxious at work at some point in our lives.  While challenges can be a normal part of working life … whether it be a deadline to meet, or a difficult task … ongoing stress should be treated a bit more seriously.  

The effects of work-related stress can spill over into personal lives or pose risk to health if left to fester.

Work-place stress is now included as a health and safety risk that employers are obliged to monitor and address.

The first priority should be to try and eliminate the stress by making changes in the workplace or workload, though this may not always be possible.  We thought we would share some tips for minimising the effects of stress where possible.

At work:

  1. Light exercise or stretching can relieve tension and help you re-set after a stressful period or if you can feel the anxiety rising.  If you don’t have time for a walk around the block or trip to the gym try these stretches
  2. Listen to calming or happy music, skip the death metal and play some happy tunes to reduce stress and anxiety.
  3. Try and take 5 minutes for meditation or deep breathing, both of these can regulate blood pressure and heart rate which helps reduce anxiety.  Find a quieter space and take some time to refocus.  As with everything there are apps or websites that will help guide you but here is an easy technique: Inhale through your nose while focusing on expanding your stomach at a slow count to five. Then purse your lips and exhale through your mouth for a slow count to five. Or simply sit and visualise a peaceful, happy place.
  4. Smile or laugh.  Sometimes just a smile is enough to break through the tiredness or anxiety so try some of the following.  Swap some silly jokes with someone. Pull out your family or pet photos that make you smile. Watch a funny video. Anything will give you a quick, light-hearted mental break.

General tips:

  1. Eat well: it’s tempting to go for the quick and easy junk food when you are tired but healthy food with good amounts of protein will set your brain up to cope better with any challenges.  Prep ahead on a Sunday if you think the week will be a tricky one.  Limit the caffeine, booze and nicotine, all these things can increase anxious feelings,
  2. Sleep well: Again, a good night sleep will set you up to succeed.  If sleep is not your friend keep an eye out for the next email with tips for creating good sleep hygiene
  3. Exercise:  We all know regular exercise has many health benefits, and one of those benefits is pumping up those feel-good endorphins.  Carve out some time for a quick gym class or a walk and your brain will thank you.
  4. Take up a hobby:  Picking up a new hobby is apparently one of best ways to minimise the impact of stress.  It gives your mind a break by refocusing it on something positive that you enjoy.  Hobbies that involve socialising or mild physical activity apparently double up on the benefits. 
  5. Talk it out:  A bitch session with a good friend, colleague or even a professional can sometimes work wonders in releasing tension.  Stress can cloud judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly or finding solutions.  Talking things through can help put things in perspective.

Take care

Anna

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