Stress is a natural phenomenon. We all experience it, some more than others, in many different ways. For some, stress can be running around from one task to another, for others stress can look like constant fatigue. Whatever stress looks like to you, it can be extremely daunting if you don’t know how to control or limit your exposure to stress. We have come up with five tips to help you avoid stress, and bounce back from those unavoidable stressful situations.
Practise relaxation techniques – We don’t expect you to cross your legs and say omm until you fall asleep. Relaxation, in any form, is a really important part of our day to day life. It is important that in your day you find the time to relax, creating an environment free from stress. This may be easy when you are at home, or in a nice hotel on the Greek islands, but what about relaxing whilst you work? There are lots of techniques you can practice that will help you to stay calm whilst also potentially helping your efficiency at work, for example, deep breathing and muscle relaxation. Taking deep breaths isn’t just a playground fix all, like the blue paper towels and magic spray. Deep breaths scientifically reduce your stress levels. And before you go off taking deep breaths and seeing how much you can breathe in and out, do you know how to breathe? There are many publications, articles, books and even social media posts that specialise in teaching you how to breathe, and they aren’t as silly as they sound. Learning how to breathe effectively can help you relieve stress and improve your work efficiency. Relieving stress on your body will also allow you to feel more comfortable in your work environment, which will help if you are an anxious person.
Meditation – On the topic of meditation and mindfulness, you could always try meditating. Again, meditation isn’t sitting cross legged on the floor with incense burning. Of course, if that is how you meditate, then go for it. But if the thought of that makes you more anxious, meditating could just be a simple exercise of asking yourself some questions. Reflecting on the day and becoming more aware of your actions. With meditation, you can create a tranquil atmosphere, become aware of what has happened in your day and take yourself off autopilot. While meditating, you can focus your mind on what matters as opposed to the many things that may be causing you stress, it will also allow you to clear your mind which may boost your efficiency, effectiveness and creativity while at work and at home.
Reducing triggers for stress – It is natural to find that your day is full of little stressful habits that you simply can’t function without doing. Perhaps you like to check your emails before you get to work, just to see how busy your day is going to be. Perhaps you like to check your bank balance to know how much you can spend today, and that may cause a bit of stress. Or maybe you just end up experiencing a bit of stress to wake you up, such as sleeping in and rushing to get ready, missing the bus or forgetting your packed lunch.
These little triggers can all add up throughout the day, and so while missing the bus may not be the end of the world, imagine the worst-case scenario. You sleep in, so you’re already an hour late, you then miss the next bus which makes you another half hour late and you forget your packed lunch which means your lunch break is significantly shorter than it would be. Do you see how those little inconveniences add up to create a stressful day?
It is also important to think about the bigger stressors in your life. Are you bad with time management, so you consistently miss deadlines? Do you struggle to find motivation and so become inefficient at work? Learning how to manage your time and gaining control of these stressful triggers will make life easier. Asking for help on stressful tasks, reserving time for yourself and making the most of that time in a way that works for you. Pace yourself at work, whilst it is good to get through as much work as possible, you also need to be realistic. Setting priorities prior to your workday will help you create a controlled environment and help ease some of that stress.
Set realistic goals for yourself – Be realistic with your goals. Don’t set yourself unobtainable, unrealistic goals. If you don’t reach that goal the first time, you will only feel demoralised. If you don’t get it the second time, you will still feel worse. The more you “fail” the worse you’ll feel, but of course, you haven’t actually failed. You just set a goal that you couldn’t ever achieve. Not everything you do will have a 100% success rate. So, instead of setting impossible goals, set yourself little realistic, achievable but still challenging goals. You will feel motivated and driven from the challenge, but you will also get the reward of completing the goal and won’t end up feeling defeated.
Create a balanced diet – You would be amazed at how much a good diet, regular exercise and a restricted intake of alcohol could do for your stress levels. There has been research done into the benefits of exercise to relieve stress but eating well and limiting your alcohol consumption can also improve your stress levels. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it makes you feel relaxed, everything feels slow, and you can lose motivation. This, of course, isn’t the adjective you would link with a top worker. The trap with alcohol is that slow, unmotivated, and relaxed may all sound like the cures to your stress, but they’re not. If you fall into a hole of lack of motivation, numbness, slowness, and complete relaxation of the body, you will find it harder to get back to a motivated state. Plus, you may find that you start to fall behind at work, miss family events etc, which in turn makes you more stressed and can actually make everything worse. So limiting the amount of alcohol you consume is a great way to minimise stress. Alcohol and overeating are often a response to stress. Being able to control and maintain a healthy diet will help relieve stress as it will help you feel better, more energised and fuelled to tackle stressful situations. A balanced diet paired with regular exercise, will not only make you feel better but will also help you improve your time management skills, develop a routine and increase productivity.
You will come across stressful situations. You will find yourself worrying about something, stressing about how to get to work or being conscious of your workload. Equipping yourself with the right skills and techniques to avoid stress is going to be crucial in protecting your mental and physical wellbeing, and maintaining your effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace.