The first Wednesday of November each year officially marks National Stress Awareness Day. It’s always encouraged that individuals think about their mental health and wellbeing on this day. When you have a moment spare, take the time out to find advice or support on managing stress. It’s understandable that having some form of stress is a part of everyday life, but not managing it or becoming overwhelmed by it can have a detrimental effect.
So, what are some good ways of dealing with stress? The best place to start is by figuring out what makes us stressed in the first place. Could it be tension at work and professional relationships? Is it pressure from family at home? Are you facing any big changes or have increased financial obligations? Sometimes it may not even be a major change, but a build-up of smaller pressures which inevitably cause our stress; this can mean it’s harder to pin-point where the stress originates from. Once you’ve identified the cause of your stress you can now move onto finding ways to deal with it directly.
We spend the majority of our time at work and probably spend more time with our colleagues than we do our own family on a daily basis! Stress can arise from the workplace in the form of doing more overtime, the fear of being made redundant, pressure to be a high-performer all the time, decrease in job satisfaction and not being in control over how you do your work. As a result, you may start feeling more anxious, suffer from fatigue, have trouble concentrating and even suffer from muscle tension or headaches. At times, this may cause an individual to rely on short-term and unhealthy methods to cope such as using alcohol or drugs.
Where’s the best place to start? We’ve listed 10 useful tips below.
- Track your stressors: You can do this in a notebook or diary. Use it to identify which situations are causing you the most stress and record how you deal with these situations. Note down your thoughts, feelings, your surroundings at the time and the people involved. It’s extremely important to notice how you react in the situations you’ve recorded. Did you get angry and raise your voice? Did you get up and grab something to eat? Making notes will help you realise a pattern.
- Start getting active: Research shows that when we exercise, we produce a chemical in our brain called endorphins which act as a natural painkiller and improve our ability to sleep, which then helps reduce stress. You can start off small by going for a brisk walk outside during work. Other exercises such as swimming, yoga, kickboxing are known to help.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and Nicotine: You should try your best to reduce your consumption of these substances. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and will increase your level of stress as opposed to reducing it. Alcohol in particular is a depressant when taken in large quantities but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities therefore using it as a way to relieve your stress is ultimately not helpful. Try drinking herbal teas or diluted fruit juices instead!
- Talk to someone: ‘No man is an island’ – as humans we don’t do well when isolated from others and we sometimes need to reach out for support. Can you turn to your work colleagues for support? They may not necessarily be able to solve your problems but by being able to blow off some steam you can regain a sense of calm.
- Create some ‘me time’: Statistics show that the UK has the longest working week, averaging 42.3 hours every week. Working this long means we sometimes don’t create the time for extracurricular activities we want to do. Set aside an evening or two for socialising, relaxation or exercise. Do not think about doing work during these times!
- Set goals: By setting goals and challenges, you can build your self. Have you thought about taking up a new language? Or maybe that sports class you promised yourself you’d join years ago? Now’s a great time to start and it’ll help you to become more proactive rather than indulging on a Netflix series.
- Manage your time: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, take a step back and learn how to prioritise. You cannot do everything at once and your reasonable-looking ‘to do’ list may end up looking as if it’s impossible to complete. Delegate your tasks into ones that are urgent, not urgent, important and not important. Don’t forget to leave out time to deal with unexpected tasks and include time for your own relaxation.
- Be positive: Practice daily gratitude and think about the good things that have happened in your day-to-day life. It could be as simple as being thankful for waking up to see another day or having a roof over your head. Make a note of what someone did to make you smile or laugh at work. Remember, the glass is always half full!
- Help other people: Volunteering has many benefits such as giving back to the community and making an immeasurable difference to people’s lives. It can also help you to increase your social interaction and build a support system around you based on the common interests you share with other volunteers. It can also increase your sense of purpose, fulfilment and self-confidence.
- Rest: When you’re stressed it may become more difficult to get to sleep. Your cortisol levels are raised and this hormone stimulates alertness and vigilance…not what you need when trying to sleep! Developing a good sleeping pattern and allowing your cortisol to drop whilst resting means your body has enough time to recover.
You can also look into apps to help manage your mood and stress levels here. If you haven’t checked, you may be entitled to certain perks within your company’s benefit package which can help you deal with stress. For example, at Raffingers, we offer our employees access to Perkbox which has offers on healthy meal boxes, exercise classes and even free mediation classes.
Hopefully this article has been of some help and has encouraged you to start making positive steps to improve your stress levels and overall mental health.
Written by Ingrid N. Beya | Digital Marketing Executive at Raffingers.