Workplace Wellness

June 26, 2017

10 ways to combat stress

Feeling tired before work has barely begun? For most people, the workplace is an unavoidable source of stress, leading to headaches, migraines, illness, fatigue and burnout.  The good news is that tackling stress is easier than you can imagine – simple changes at work and home can make all the difference. Take charge with the following ways to combat stress.

Cut down on caffeine

It’s tempting to grab coffee in the morning, afternoon and evening. Yet, studies have shown that caffeine pumps up the levels of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone in the body. In small doses, it can increase alertness and concentration. But excess amounts cause increased stress, sleep problems, irritability and fatigue after the ‘caffeine high’. The optimal intake can differ based on age, weight and medical history, but the recommended limit for healthy adults is 400 mg per day or 3-4 cups of brewed coffee.

Schedule smartly

Schedule tasks for the week and follow the plan strictly. Commit to finishing a single task before moving on to the next one. Can a task be done in ten minutes or less? Do it right away before moving on to bigger jobs. These small steps can improve productivity and cut down on stress caused by pending tasks.

Communicate expectations clearly

When it comes to work, employees are not stressed by a project, but by uncertainty regarding the work and tasks assigned to their colleagues. Practice clear and open communication in meetings, emails, reports and memos. Define expectations at the start and clear doubts at the earliest.

Take quick breaks

Data shows that taking scheduled breaks between tasks can refresh the brain and keep it focused. Our minds are not designed to sustain attention for six to eight hours at a stretch. That’s why quick breaks between long tasks can help reduce stress and maintain a constant level of performance.

Relax and recharge

Make the most of a break. Do some stretches and deep breathing exercises, go for a walk, listen to soothing music, socialise with co-workers. Such activities reduce the pressure from work and help rejuvenate the mind.

Address concerns at the workplace

Take a problem-solving approach. If there are any concerns at work, discuss them with a co-worker or supervisor. An immediate solution might not be available, but an open discussion can help clear any negative emotions and doubts.

Create a support network

Talking with a trusted friend, family member or colleague is a good way to let off steam. Sharing thoughts and feelings can reduce job stress and improve one’s ability to manage the situations that cause it.

Unwind after work

Everyone needs time to relax and unwind after a grueling day. To stay motivated and energetic, switch off from work after office hours. Make time for hobbies. Don’t let vacation days go to waste and don’t feel guilty about disconnecting the phone and the internet at such times.

Eat well, sleep well and live fit

Healthy food and good sleep are fuel for the body - make sure to get plenty of both. Avoid junk food and try to get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep every day. Also, keep yourself active. A good workout helps to combat stress and keep the body and mind energetic.

Let go of the illusion of perfection

The reality is you will always have some complaining and unhappy employees around you and stress will always be a part of life. Mild stress is actually good for us. Good stress, or what psychologists call "eustress," is the stress we feel for short bursts when excited, motivated or inspired. But acute and chronic bouts of stress can harm our health, career and relationships. Rather than trying to eliminate it or getting overwhelmed, find healthy ways to manage it.

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