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5 Strategies to Relieve Work Stress
Stressing out due to the pressures of work is unavoidable. A temporary, moderate amount of stress – perhaps because one is beating a deadline, or speaking in public, or pitching to a client – can even be good for you in terms of providing challenge and excitement.
However, excessive and prolonged stress will lead to lackluster work performance or even suspension of work due to illness. Stress lowers the body’s immune response. In effect, it may manifest in physical symptoms such as allergies, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, migraine, or fever.
Avoid the physical – not to mention mental and emotional – ramifications of overwork and keep stress at a manageable level using these strategies:
1. Keep healthy habits. You cannot work at peak performance if you do not get the right nourishment or lack sleep. Do not sacrifice your well-being for the sake of your job; in the end, your work will suffer and you will experience dissatisfaction over constantly having to sacrifice your own needs for the sake of the company. Strike a balance between what you need to do to keep yourself healthy and what you need to accomplish to fulfill expectations at work. It is in your – and your company’s – best interests that you stay healthy.
2. Exercise. Manage stress by exercising regularly; it will enhance your body and brain’s ability to handle stress. Tense muscles relax when given a workout. You feel revitalized. Exercise also improves blood-flow to the brain, bringing oxygen-rich blood and clearing build-up of toxins. Your brain functions better, you think more clearly, and concentrate better. Exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins, which are associated with pain relief and a sense of euphoria. Consequently, people who exercise tend to be less anxious, stressed or depressed.
3. Take time to relax. Take advantage of “break time.” Too many people eat at their desks, or schedule lunch and dinner meetings, or skip meals altogether in favor of work. Pushing yourself too much will be counter-productive in the long run. Best to take a break once in a while so that you rest your brain, and are able return to the task at hand with renewed vigor and perspective. Weekends should also be set aside for time with your family and time for yourself. Have a massage. Go on a weekend trip. Make sure that you carve out time for rest and recreation.
4. Meditate. On your “stress-reduction” mini-break, you can take time to calm and center yourself via meditation. Meditation releases feelings of tension, anxiety, anger and depression. Stress has accompanying physical symptoms, including high blood pressure and a racing heart. When you meditate, you regulate your breathing, slow down your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure. Unlike smoking, or stress-eating, or taking calming medication, the practice of meditation has no harmful effects. It is also easily accessible. Sometimes all you need to do is sit in a relaxed position and clear your mind.
5. Have a good laugh. Learn to see the humor in the situation. It’s good to have a laugh now and then. Physically, it allows you to take in more air – involving heart, lungs and muscles – and stimulates blood circulation and muscle relaxation, reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress. Sharing a laugh with someone also defuses anger, sooths tension and allows you to bond rather than come to blows. Stay positive and stress will cease to have so much impact on your mind and emotions.