More than 40% of adults say they lay awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day. In 2018 the UK Health & Safety Executive reported that 57% of staff absence in 2018 was due to muscular skeletal problems and stress-related conditions.
There are ways to reduce stress, anxiety and physical tension at work. Working with a calmer mindset actually makes you feel more focused, energised, productive and healthier. You just need tools to take you out of ‘Fight and Flight’ (Via Sympathetic nervous system) and into ’Rest and Digest’ (Via the parasympathetic nervous system).
Just try a few things from this list, see what works for you... and apply it everyday.
Reboot your Day
Your train was late, the kids argued enroute to school, the traffic was heavy... There are already stresses before getting to work. So when you get to work reboot. Take a deep breath, shake the morning off and reset.
Are you optimistic with time so mostly get to work with enough time, but there is no provision for traffic or delays? Or maybe you are always late? Just give yourself just 15-20 more minutes to leave and see the difference you will feel in your stress levels.
Split up Tasks
Looking at a long To-Do list can be over whelming and a stress trigger. Try breaking the list into priorities, doing it in easier chunks, and give yourself credit for completing them one task at a time.
Do a few minutes of deep breathing. Before you feel stress building, have a presentation pending or an important meeting take time to do deep breathing. It immediately tells or lies the brain, via the parasympathetic nervous system’s vagus nerve, that you are relaxing. Bringing stress levels down.
Interruptions: Boundaries and Managing
Workers are interrupted seven times an hour, which is about 2.1 hours a day. It is not just people popping to your desk, it’s emails, phone calls and constant messages. Try only checking phones and email messages after priority tasks and deadlines, not during. When colleagues, interrupt let them know that you will talk to them after the task at hand is finished. They will soon learn this is how you work.
Schedule Movement Breaks
Working flat out 8+ hours a day without breaks or a proper lunch actually increase stress and fatigue, so in the long run you work less productively. Stretch, move, walk, step outside, take time out to go and eat properly. Then go back to work with a clearer head.
You are what you Eat
If you skip a meal and eat low nutritious snacks and food to rush through the day you actually increase fatigue, low mood, stress levels and ultimately your health. Take time to consider regular healthy eating and replace some of your caffeine drinks with water to improve brain function.
Do not wait for praise from others. Take time to think about what you achieved, consider what went well for you and be thankful for your efforts and contribution.
Leaving essential planning and work for a deadline, meeting or event until the last minute builds up internal anxiety/stress levels and may stop you sleeping at night with worry. Planing ahead and starting the work sooner leaves you time for any hiccups and eventualities.
Reduce phone and screen use. Constant screen use releases the hormone Dopamine... the same hormone released for any addiction like drugs and gambling. It increases your stress levels and stops you engaging with the real life. Regular breaks through the day have proven great stress reducers. Put your personal phone away for periods during your working day too.
Change How you React
A working day can include disappointments, rejection and irritations. instead to feeding internal negative thinking, moaning, getting furious or feeling demotivated... maybe acknowledge the feeling and situation and then change how you think about it. Make changes, shake it off, accept it, problem solve, understand why it’s happened and avoid it happening again.
Being a high achiever can help you feel good about yourself and excel at work. But you are just human and so can’t do or be it all. Release the simmering anxiety. Learn to stop self imposing stress by building your own self-confidence rather than seeking other’s approval. Recognise those around you who do not strive for perfection... yet still achieve highly. You are doing your best and are only human.
Try Mindfullness. It is as easy as taking deep breaths... and with your mind following the journey of the breath. Feel the sensation of the breath as it travels up your nose and into your lungs, then back out again.
Have a massage or Reflexology. A 2019 study by Virgin found that staff who participated in well-being activities were 49 per cent more productive and took 31 per cent fewer sick days. Google offices famously offer on-site therapists, yoga and massage. There are some great workplace sessions that can be booked within budget. Massage helps to release the physical tension caused by repetition. Reflexology works deeply with the parasympathetic nervous system to help get you back to a relaxed state, allowing the body to self heal.
Reboot at Home. Shake the working day off. Read, take a bath, do nothing, cook, exercise, sleep in later at the weekend, connect with friends/family, listen to music. Make a list of what relaxes you and do it regularly. You are not working now, so do not need to answer non-urgent emails or text’s until Monday. Switch off. It may even improve your sleep