We cannot eliminate or escape stress at the workplace. It is a fact of modern life. Yet we can neutralise stress by fueling our lives with meaningful actions, thoughts, and beliefs.
The first step to improve your coping mechanisms to stress is to identify what your default reactions are.
Becoming aware of our automatic responses is crucial if we want to make sense of our ineffective behaviours, understand why we have permitted these behaviours to continue, and develop a plan for replacing them.
When the pressure is on, how do you respond? Do you stay glued to your desk for hours on end trying to get through your to-do-list? Do you fuel your body with coffee and chocolate? Do you snap, snarl and swear at your screen or interruptions? What about when you get home….glass of wine, chips and the lounge?
Consider keeping a journal for a week or two to make a note of which situations create the most stress and what your response to them is. Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting and how you reacted. Did you raise your voice? Get a snack from the vending machine? Go for a walk? Taking notes can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them.
Once you have increased your awareness to what really stresses you and how you usually react, you can then focus on implementing more effective responses.
Since stress is a physical and hormonal chain reaction, the first place to start is using your body to interrupt the response. Indeed, the foundation for living a stress-free, physically energised life lies in what we eat, how (and how often) we move, and how much we sleep. Here are some of our favourite tips for eradicating stress on a physical level.
1. Eat whole foods.
The more our food is processed, the more it can contribute to our anxiety levels. Not only nutritionally, but mentally when the guilt kicks in because we all know what we should be doing right?! We can prevent these symptoms by eating whole foods, eating more fruits and vegetables (especially green ones), and getting a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids from salmon or seeds such as hemp, chia, and flax. Nourishing your body will make you better prepared to take on whatever challenges you’ll face at work.
2. Exercise regularly.
Physical activity releases feel-good, stress-relieving chemicals. Every time you find your stress level on the rise, get up and move. You can stretch, run in place, dance, or walk around the office or building. Doing so gets your blood and endorphins flowing, makes you happy, and turns off your flight or fight stress response. Boost the physical benefits of moving by taking several deep, cleansing breathes that trigger your relaxation stressor.
3. Get enough sleep.
Work stressors are magnified when we’re sleep-deprived and foggy-brained. Aim for eight hours of sleep each night. Sleeping well can help you solve problems with a clearer mind and even boost your intelligence.
Remember ….. Stress begins in our minds via a thought or belief. Thus, an important key to neutralising stress is to fuel our minds with more positive, happy, gratitude-filled thoughts in order to trigger our stress responses less often.
4. Cultivate gratitude.
Things will go wrong throughout our workday, or at least not according to plan. This is inevitable. We can take the sting out of these negative events by focusing on what’s great in our life. Those old wives knew a thing or two what they said we should count our blessings….
5. Meditate regularly.
A consistent meditation practice—even if it’s only five minutes a day—may help lower blood pressure, and can help us control the thoughts that can trigger stress. The next time you get stressed because your boss just added another task to your already overflowing to-do list, stop and take a breath. Shake out your body, sit back down and meditate for a few minutes or do our 6 minute breathing practice.
Good luck with your stress busting. You deserve to live a happy, contented life and it’s never too late to make it happen.