**Note: This blog has been updated with more current statistics and information than the original version.
Is work taking over your life?
Do you find yourself thinking about work or actually working during weekends or even on vacation?
If your answers to those questions were YES, I encourage you to consider the stress you may be bringing into your life.
According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 79% of people responded that they experience stress sometimes or frequently throughout their day. That’s a lot of people… and a lot of stress!
As a reformed workaholic, I have first-hand experience with the fact that if you keep on working without giving yourself a break, there’s a huge chance you will no longer be as productive as you want to be. There’s also a very good chance that the chronic stress that goes along with overworking will cause other issues in terms of your health, relationships, and quality of life.
When we allow stress and overwork to become our “normal,” we become exhausted in every aspect of our being – physically, mentally and even emotionally.
Does any of this ring true for you?
Are you aware of stress in your life and how it might be impacting you?
Symptoms of Stress
Most of us are aware of the common symptoms of stress. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it’s a sure sign it’s time to pay attention to what your body is telling you.
- Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
- Apathy, loss of interest in work
- Problems sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Stomach problems
- Social withdrawal
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope
For many of us, recognizing the symptoms in ourselves is the easy part. What is a little harder is admitting to how stress affects so many areas of our life. Left unchecked, stress can create a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. You may not be able to remove all stress from your life, but it makes sense to do all you can to lessen stress wherever you can and manage it in a positive way when it pops up.
Ramp Up Healthy Habits When Stressed
Instead of going to caffeine or chocolate when you’re feeling uptight, use some of the suggested tips to help you cope with stress and give yourself a break when you need one.
Exercise is a great way to manage stress.
Moving around and getting that heart rate up elevates mood, focus and energy, while at the same time it relaxes your mind and body.
Trying to exercise 3 to 5 times a week is recommended, but you can also implement simple ways to exercise around the work place when life gets too busy for full workouts. Try taking a walk around your building, stretching regularly, meditating, or doing some yoga on a break. Any of these would be great options, and more than you might currently be doing.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the symptoms of job stress is insomnia. Insomnia can make you even more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress, including taking matters too personally and losing control of your (otherwise controlled) emotions.
Getting enough rest helps reduce stress and helps you keep your emotions in check, which is huge when you’re already dealing with work-related stress. Aim for at least 8 hours a night. If you did not get your full 8-hour rest, take a power nap out in your car or in a quiet place at work.
Become Organized and Prioritize to Help With Job Stress
This means scheduling your day out – including relaxation and play time. Scheduling those times will allow you to relax and enjoy your time with family and friends. It will also help you with your tasks at work and chores at home. You’ll feel better and more in control each time you cross an item off your list.
Leave Earlier in the Morning
Leaving 10 to 15 minutes before your usual time can not only help you get to work earlier, it will also give you time to prepare yourself for the day once you get there.
When you rush to work (and into work), you automatically set yourself up to allow stress to be your companion. Setting your goal for leaving for work ahead by 10 or 15 minutes will help you stay on time and help you take a few minutes to reflect on the upcoming day once you get there.
Take Regular Breaks
After working hard for two hours, take a break! Get up and walk around, switch gears in your head, get away from your desk, and enjoy the day. Taking a deep breath and relaxing for a few minutes can improve your mood and reduce stress.
Be Mentally Stress-Free
Recognize When You’re Stressed
When you recognize that you’re stressed, you can take action to calm yourself down. Use your senses to help calm your mind – sight, sounds, smells, taste and touch.
Light a candle with a scent that you find calming. Listen to calming music or drink a cup of hot tea to slow down and get your mind off the daily grind. Go outside and breathe the fresh air, delighting in every scent there is to smell. Taking a moment to pray, considered by some to be one of the most potent antidotes to stress, might be helpful too.
Find whatever is comforting to you, and use it whenever you feel stressed.
Laughter truly is “just what the doctor ordered” when it comes to relieving stress.
When laughter is shared in the workplace, it helps calm the tension and stress that can be affecting you. So, take the time to find the humor in stressful situations or break the tension with some laughter.
Develop a Positive Attitude
Changing your mindset can make a huge difference in how you deal with stress. Think about the many wonderful things you have in life to be grateful about. Picture life as a glass that’s half full rather than half empty. Always remember that life is a journey that takes you to your destination – and you have the power to make that journey a positive, meaningful experience.
Communicate Your Feelings
Talk to a trusted friend or adviser about your job stress and what’s going on in your life. When you communicate your feelings, it helps clear your mind, helps you identify or sort through possible solutions, and helps you connect with others around you.
Talking with someone about the stress you’re experiencing or the challenges you’re facing is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you recognize that you are only human and we humans benefit from talking things out with others.
We all need support sometimes and, by communicating your feelings, you will most likely find that you’re not alone in your struggles. Everyone experiences stress. As a bonus, that person you open up to may also benefit from your honesty and openness!
Putting these tips into practice will help you relieve unnecessary stress and help you keep the stresses of life in perspective.
For more information about how to reduce stress, visit https://theproductivityexperts.com/de-stress-zone/ for tips, tools and strategies you can use right away!