Stress at work is a killer. Many studies have shown stress can have a detrimental affect on your health. When you are stressed at work you are less productive and more likely to make mistakes. Stress can’t be eliminated, but it can be controlled. Learning what causes and stress management is the key.
The main causes of stress are work, home, and personal problems. Some stress is actually good for us. Pressure to complete a task can help us focus on it. But if you are under stress each day you need to take steps to cut it or eliminate it.
1. What is Stress?
There are tons of books, seminars, and self-help gurus that say they will help you find stress relief in your life. Many are good, some are preying on those who need help for their own monetary gain. I’ve never written a book on it and am not a self-help guru, but I am very familiar with stress and have found some ways to deal with it.
For me it helped to learn what stress is from a physical perspective.
- Stress is part of life, it is part of being human. Stress comes from the primal “fight or flee” instinct in each of us. When your body is under stress it produces hormones that are meant to alert you to something that is wrong. This causes the physical symptoms that we feel when we are under stress. Stress is far worse on your body than you may think.
- There is no way you will eliminate all the causes of stress from your life. What you can do is develop ways to manage stress. It is easy to say “it is all in your mind”, but the truth is it really is. How our mind perceives an event determines if we consider it stress or not. Controlling how we perceive such events is how we control stress.
2. How To Manage Stress At Work
The most common stress in our lives comes at work. Learning how to recognize what causes you stress and using various methods to reduce it can help you better deal with it. In fact, you may eliminate some of the sources of your stress once you learn the cause and find a solution for it the next time it occurs.
Here are some methods to use to help you find, cut and make good use of stress.
- Identify when you are stressed so you can learn what causes you stress. One method for doing this is by keeping a stress diary. Anytime something comes up that causes you stress write down the date, time and what caused the stress.
- At the end of the day or end of the week review the diary and look at what caused you stress. Do you see common triggers? If so look for ways to eliminate them. If driving to work causes you stress take a different route or leave earlier.
- Look at what caused you stress and ask yourself was it really that big of a problem? Removed from the stressful situation you can think of ways to deal with a problem. The next time a problem comes up you will know how to deal with it and eliminate the stress.
- Learn to turn stress into “good stress”. Deadlines and tasks can cause stress at work. These are situations where you can draw energy from those hormones released when you are under stress to focus and complete a task. Don’t perceive these as bad stress. Channel the stress to make you more productive. Look for ways to motivate your mind.
- Get help. Talk to others when you are stressed about something. Sometimes just getting it off your chest will eliminate it. They may point out something you never saw because they are looking at it from a different perspective. If you are stressed by your workload delegate or find someone who can help you with it.
- Remember that how we perceive an event often determines whether we are stressed by it. Sometimes you just have to learn to accept that there are some things you can do nothing about so why stress out over them? For these times just accept, “it is what it is” and it is not worth the stress.
- Working under pressure can lead to stress. Learn how to work under pressure and you will eliminate this source of stress.
Did you ever watch a war movie where the character runs into battle taking heroic action without concern for himself? He is not superhuman. He has learned to control his stress and channel the natural energy stress produces to help him get the task done.
He does not fall to the ground or crawl in a hole saying woe is unto me. He sees stress for what it is, the human body’s reaction to an emotional event. Without doubt he is still stressed, but.he does not let it debilitate him. Instead he takes those natural hormones and channels them to give him more energy to complete the task.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Since stress acts on your body you need to take steps to take care of yourself as part of your overall plan to deal with stress. There are many things you can do to relieve the effects of stress on your body. There are also things you can do to help your body be better able to deal with stress.
- SLEEP. If you are only getting 4-6 hours of sleep on work nights you are stressing your body before you even get to work. You need at least 7, preferably 8 hours of good sleep each night. Sleep deprivation is a known cause for increased stress because your body and mind are not working at 100%.
- Eat healthy, not just for the health of your body, but for the health of your mind. When you skip or skimp on meals you are denying your body the nutrients it needs to fight off and deal with stress. Many studies have shown reduced levels of certain vitamins and minerals can increase stress.
- Exercise has long been shown to be a great relief for stress. When you exercise your body produces natural “feel good” chemicals that counteract stress. You feel better, your body is healthier, better able to deal with stress, and you will sleep better. Exercise that uses you whole body has been shown to work best at relieving stress.
- Learn relaxation techniques. Breathing techniques, muscle relaxation techniques, mental “thought stopping” techniques are all methods you can use when stress strikes. My favorite is if possible removing myself from the situation, also known as taking a break. Just breaking your mind and body out of a stressful situation for 10 minutes can do wonders to lower your stress level. Have a problem you can’t solve? Take a break. Suffering from work overload? Take a break. When you come back you will be better able to deal with it than if you try to stick it out.
Stress is a natural part of being human. Stress is caused by a release of hormones due to how we perceive and event. While we can not totally eliminate stress, knowing how we perceive it can determine if an event is stressful or not gives us a method to deal with it.
Learning what causes you stress will help find triggers to your stress. Once you find them you can come up with ways to deal with them the next time they arise. Sometimes stress can be useful when you channel that natural energy caused by the release of hormones to focus on completing a task.
Other ways of dealing with stress at work include delegating when you can and asking for help with a task. Sometimes just talking to someone about an issue helps relieve the stress. Taking care of your body and your mind is the most proactive thing you can do to deal with stress. A healthy mind and body can handle stress far better than a tired and undernourished one.
Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is acceptance that there is nothing you can do about the particular event. Doing so allows you to let go of some of the stress related to it. After all there is no sense in stressing out about something you have no control over.