Workplace Stress – Hans Selye once said It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. I couldn’t agree with this more. After all stress affects us all, many of us on a daily basis. Stress is not about to leave our lives anytime soon so the best idea to live with stress, is to learn how to handle it.
Stress in the workplace may be derived from many avenues such as feeling under appreciated or undervalued by your employer or employees, working too many hours, not taking designated breaks or avoiding taking time off. All of these are examples of how the workplace can lead to stress. Then there is stress that comes from an employee’s personal life such as relationship breakdown, financial hardship or social rejection. You probably guessed that stress in someone’s personal life will almost always resonate in their professional life in some way, no matter how hard they try to hide it. Eventually, any stress that is not dealt with accordingly will boil up inside to the point that you may not notice the stress anymore and in fact, it may seem normal to wake up and go to bed feeling stress. Whilst getting rid of whatever it is that is causing you stress isn’t always an option, there are ways in which you can manage it in the short and in the long term to enable you to continue working at your best.
Some tips for fast acting stress relief:
- Count to 10 and slow your breathing. If counting to 10 isn’t enough, count to 30.
It might sound silly, but just as someone with an anger problem stops for 30 seconds to give their brain time to react sensibly, the same is known to happen with stress. Sometimes all the brain needs to react appropriately is time. If you find yourself at work completing a task or near someone that has put you into a stressful state, close your mouth and take a slow deep breath for 10 seconds. If your stress has reached a critical level, try and excuse yourself to the nearest bathroom to close your eyes for a short time and focus on nothing but your incredibly deep and slow breathing. Each inward breath should be 5-10 seconds long, the same speed for each outward breath. This 2 minutes in the bathroom could be the difference between you saying something or doing something that you may immensely regret so if you feel your blood boiling, take a quick break to cool down.
- Get yourself a coffee or drink of water.
Whether you’re in a busy office or on a warehouse floor it can be easy to get caught up with being busy. Just remember that whilst not every employee is entitled to overly regular coffee breaks, every employee IS entitled to drink water and have bathroom breaks. If your water bottle is empty but your flat out, look for the next available gap and go to fill your drink bottle up then. Water is what will provide oxygen to your body and without it, all those busy tasks you need to get done are going to get done a lot slower and possibly with mistakes if you don’t allow yourself to drink water throughout the day. Fact: when we are thirsty, our body’s are already in dehydration mode.
Tips for longer lasting stress relief
- Take your designated breaks
Just like forgetting to drink water it can be easy to forget about taking your tea or lunch breaks or simply think your ‚ ≤too busy’ to take them. If your one of those people who eats lunch at their desk or works through an eight hour day (not allowed) without a break thinking what harm can it do, then you may be in for a shock. Not allowing yourself to take a break will almost always lead to tiredness, forgetfulness and lapses of concentration. Not surprisingly, this is when most workplace accidents occur and probably when most minor and major mistakes are made. We have all skipped a lunch break or a tea break at some point but don’t make it a habit. We all need to rest, relax and regroup and taking just a thirty minute lunch break can be enough time for you to grab a coffee, eat your lunch, make a phone call, go to the bathroom and be back at work fresh as a daisy. Trying to clock an additional thirty minutes of work in exchange for making yourself tired and not noticing how close your hand is getting to the machinery your using is simply not worth it. So go on have a break, and why not have a Kit Kat.
This word used to excite people. Now it probably just causes anxiety and further stress to mention it to some bosses in fears they will say NO and make you feel like you will lose your job if you ever take a holiday. You work hard, you deserve to take your holidays. Got a strict boss who hates people having time off? Try and plan your holidays around your busiest times and give as much notice as possible. If your planning on taking more than a week off for a scheduled holiday, then consider that two months is not an unreasonable amount of notice in which to ask your boss for the time off. Asking to take a week off next week and you may very well be pushing your luck.
So to recap
- Allow time to breathe
- Drink lots (of water)
- Take your designated breaks
- Try and take a holiday or at least some time off each year