Anxiety, pressure, tension what would a normal work day be without them? We've all suffered the symptoms of workplace stress and we've all ridden them off as trials you just deal with. But the truth is stress can be really serious if not handled properly. Not only will it affect your ability to do a good job, but you could also be up for some pretty heavy health risks such as high blood pressure, migraines, stomach ulcers and even depression. So how can you calm yourself down when your boss is shrieking louder than Jimmy Barnes? Easy! We've got short and long term fixes to have you chilled out and feeling happier in no time.
Short terms de-stressers
Load up on the liquids: Keeping hydrated at work is super important because office air-conditioning can strip the body of moisture which puts it under unnecessary stress. Try leaving a litre water bottle on your desk and finishing it every day. Drinking tea is also the perfect way to stay hydrated and calm down. Studies have proven that herbal and normal tea rejuvenates and relaxes the body. Just avoid too many coffees or sugary drinks they only spike your energy so high that it comes spectacularly crashing down.
Take a time-out: Your brain is not built to work at full speed for eight hours straight so give it a few reprieves throughout the day. Closing your eyes for 30 seconds and taking a few deep breaths or looking out the window will help your eye sight and your stress levels. If you feel uptight jump on the spot a few times to release the tension. Also be aware of your own stress warning signs. Knowing what sets you off means you can prevent a full blown breakdown before it happens by removing yourself from the situation.
Get and stay organised: It's a fact. A messy desk does not show that you're busy and productive, it just resembles your cluttered mind. Taking five minutes at the end of every day to clean your work space and write a to-do list for the next day will make your morning arrival that much more pleasant. Being able to find things first go will also save your sanity.
Know your chill out trigger points: Emotional Mindeze Therapy founder Richard Link believes that by applying pressure to certain parts of your body you can correct imbalances in your energy system. To ease a headache Link suggests sticking your tongue out and biting it as hard as you can without hurting yourself for 10 seconds. To relieve stress Link says that rubbing the back of your head near producing bones will help. You can also ask someone to rub in between your shoulder blades for the same effect. And to calm down when you're angry, tap your collar bones or hold your temples with your thumb on one side and two fingers on the other for 30 seconds to bring blood flow back to the forehead.
Scatter some inspiration around: Having clear goals will always help you get through the tough times. Remind yourself of why you're doing what you're doing and where you're going by keeping inspirational pictures and quotes handy. Why not put one as your computer screensaver? Also nothing lifts your spirits like some positive affirmation so don't forget to reward yourself when you do a good job and foster your own self confidence.
Long term de-stressers
Sleep anxiety off: Around 60 percent of people who say they're stressed also say they don't get enough sleep. Everyone needs a solid six to eight hours for their body to repair and rejuvenate. So if you're having trouble nodding off try a warm shower with some lavender body wash, followed by reading a good book. Try to avoid late night eating or TV as it puts your mind into overdrive.
Escape on a holiday: If you're in need of a two week break, often an overseas trip causes more stress than it's worth. If you take into account jet lag, expense, shots and travel time, you might have shaved several precious days from your vacation time before you've even arrived at your destination.
That's why it's often a good idea to look into domestic options, whether it's a two week break, or a few days away. A fortnight interstate, or a weekend on the coast or in the mountains can do wonders for your stress levels because it gets you out of the rut. Why not invite a few friends too? A bit of fun and laughter really is the best medicine.
Get active: We've heard it a zillion times before, but exercise is the golden child of stress busters. Just 20 minutes of cardio three times a week releases tension in the body and dispels toxins. You can also try yoga for relaxation. A healthy diet which includes a breakfast packed with protein (eggs, meat, wholegrains and greens) will get you firing on all cylinders and regular low-GI meals throughout the day will keep your energy up. Make sure to actually take a lunch break too and get outside for some fresh air and sunlight instead of slumping over your desk.
Spend weeknights relaxing: Rather than scheduling a ton of chores during the week, leave the big burdens for the weekend and take some time to chill out after work with a good CD, meal and company. Avoid alcohol if you can, as it makes you tired, and just talk to a friend or your partner instead. Mid week intimacy relieves stress as well, so if you're up for some bedroom bonding, that's as good an excuse as any!
Stress less summary
The number one rule when dealing with work place stress is not to ignore it! Letting stress fester will only cause you prolonged and serious grief. Speak up if your workload is out of control no one will frown on you for saying that you could do a much better job if you didn't have more pressure than a goalie in the World Cup Soccer final. If all else fails consider attending a stress management course or having a check-up with your doctor. Life and work is meant to be enjoyed!
Article by Melissa Ironside, September 2006.