It’s rare for a week to go by without another report on workplace stress reaching the news headlines – “1 in 3 employees threatened by burn-out”, “stress is now the leading cause of long-term sickness”, “work related stress has soared by 40%”.
Ask most busy business owners and they will say: “stress is an everyday part of my work”. Indeed, stress is a normal and natural part of human life. However, it can be a thin (and somewhat grey) line between stress you feel you can cope with and stress that starts affecting your health.
Now, I am not a stress management expert, but I am two things:
This therefore is my own collection of practical and common sense tips and ideas to managing stress. I’ve been testing them out over this last month and wanted to share with you my progress. However, it is ‘work in progress’ – so feel free to add a few ideas of your own at the end!
I do hope you’ll take a couple of minutes out (with a cup of tea) and have a read – you never know, it might start helping you too to feel a little less stressed!
1. Power of Pause: pressing the pause button on your day
Whether in a busy office or working remotely in a home office, it can be easy to forget to just stop. I currently have Post-it notes on my desk to remind me to ‘stop, pause, breathe and stretch’ – I have even started to step away from my desk and take a short walk – see no 2!
Pausing my day has already helped me prioritise workloads and having a break from the laptop has helped me generate some really good ideas – I have been feeling less lethargic too.
2. Let’s get Physical: a bit of regular physical activity can work wonders
I’ve known for quite some time that physical activity helps reduce emotional intensity, which is often associated with stress. However, I am no marathon runner and have always been, well … a bit exercise resistant. It’s early days, but I have started to do more walking and it really does seem to be helping. I’m probably not doing anything strenuous enough to release mood-boosting hormones, but apparently people who practice yoga, cope much better with stress – something for me to look into in the New Year?
3. Seize the Day (or Carpe Diem): make the most of each day
A criticism of modern society is that we spend far too long living in the past and future and not enough time in the ‘now’. I’m wondering whether it is the fear and worry linked with past and future events that keeps me on that perpetual hamster wheel? I’ve started to question my actions a bit more and even made some different decisions, which has been quite liberating!
4. Re-programme yourself: change perspective
Did you know that your psychological outlook affects your neurological function? I personally think that regaining control and dealing with stress has a lot to do with changing perspectives. When I feel myself slipping into a negative downward cycle I have been consciously forcing myself to adopt a ‘glass half full’ attitude. To help me do this, I have been writing down three things at the end of the day which make me feel good, grateful or pleased – I think this is going to be a good habit.
5. Junk the Junk: especially the unhealthy food
It’s common for many people to turn to the comfort of empty calories in times of stress, but in my case I tend to go off my food altogether – good for the short term waist line, but not good for my long term health. I still cut corners here, but by taking more breaks, I am also reminding myself to go and eat a piece of fruit (away from my desk, of course)!
6. De-clutter: simplify an over-complicated life
I am a ‘list’ person, well strictly speaking a ‘lists’ person – although they help me feel in control, I am starting to recognise that they in turn are also controlling me, as I never seem to reach the end of any of them! I read a quote the other day about over-busy lives which really hit home: “maintaining a complicated life is a great way to avoid improving it” – I am attempting to prioritise the important and jettison the trivial – wish me luck!
7. Pursue your Passions: give your heart a reason to keep breathing
It’s easy to forget yourself, particularly when you are remembering everyone else – whether it be staff, work colleagues, friends or family! This is about making time for the things that you enjoy and putting yourself first. This has been, by far, the hardest thing for me to tackle – mainly thanks to bad habits formed years ago. However, even here I am starting to have a few small successes! Baby steps as they say!
Has this started you thinking? Well, now it’s your turn and perhaps you’d like to share a few ideas of your own?
If you’d like a little more inspiration, then I hope you will come along to Wave-length’s FREE Stress Less Event on 13th December, in Telford Town Centre. Just click on ‘Wave-length’ for more details and to book your ticket!