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According to the statistics collected from various sources by the American Institute of Stress (AIS), 83 % of United States workers suffer from work stress. The AIS found the main causes of workplace stress are workload (46%), people issues (28%), juggling work and personal lives (28%), and lack of job security (6%). These are difficult issues to resolve, making it challenging to stop stressing. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce stress at work that are simple to do.
Defining Job Stress
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines stress as a harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when people do not have the capabilities needed to meet job requirements or lack the necessary resources to do their job. Work stress is not to be taken lightly because it can lead to so many consequences.
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased chance of injury
- Lower workplace performance
- Negative impact on relationships with co-workers and supervisors
- Negative impact on personal lives when work stress carries over
- Higher risk of developing medical conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, headaches, and neck pain
- Stress-related issues like difficulty sleeping and upset stomach
- Mental health issues, like mood disorders and anxiety
- Increased risk of using drugs or alcohol to cope
Trying to ignore stress does not make it lessen or go away. It is wise to acknowledge the work stress and recognize the importance of learning how to deal with stress at work.
Tips for Reducing Stress
Too many believe that it is impossible to reduce workplace stress because working conditions are not under their control. However, there are many ways to get stress under control, despite not being able to reduce your workload or change supervisors. Following are seven easy steps for stress reduction with a focus on tactics you can employ while at work.
Sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy, and can increase feelings of stress. Research studies have found that long periods of sitting may increase anxiety. Be sure to get up and move around periodically throughout the day, even if it means just walking around the office a couple of times. During your breaks and lunchtime, take a short walk and be sure to get away from the work desk or station.
2. Eat healthily
Some foods can actually cause more stress and feelings of anxiety. They include sugar and refined carbohydrates that produce spikes in blood sugar levels. That, in turn, causes the insulin hormone to be released. High blood sugar makes it more difficult to concentrate. Low blood sugar impacts energy levels and causes a low mood. Instead of snacking on sugary foods, bread, and foods high in saturated fats, choose healthy foods for snacks and lunch, like fruit, nuts, and salads.
3. Perform mental relaxation exercises
Reducing mental anxiety is important to controlling stress. Though you cannot sit on the floor in the corner and meditate, you can learn visualization. You close your eyes, mentally picture a place that you find restful, and think in terms of sensory details, like the sound of the ocean waves or the sound of birds singing.
4. Read non-work material
Simply reading something that is not related to work can relieve stress. It could be an e-book or a magazine, for example. This serves as a short distraction from the thoughts contributing to stress. Research has shown that thoughts affect feelings. When you are experiencing a stressful situation, it is human nature to begin a cycle of negative thoughts that only increases feelings of stress. Interrupting that cycle can reduce stress.
5. Improve the work area
Office stress develops for many different reasons. It could be crowded work conditions, loud coworkers, general office noise, poorly designed workplace, and so on. One of the simple ways to reduce stress in these circumstances is to clean the work area of clutter and add calming influences. You can add pictures of your favorite restful places or family, place something personal on the desk that is associated with good memories and add greenery (if allowed).
6. Change your attitude
A person’s attitude has everything to do with the amount of stress experienced. Negative thinking or a negative attitude fuels stress. There are studies that show optimism and positive thinking are important to stress management. When in a stressful work situation, you have the power to self-talk and change your attitude towards less than pleasant situations. Instead of thinking, “I can’t possibly manage all this work,” you think, “What options do I have to reduce the workload or to find help with getting the work done.” Acknowledge the issues causing the stress, think of ways to improve the situation, and take a few moments to think of something good in your life.
7. Sneak in Calming Yoga Moves
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines controlled breathing, poses, and mental relaxation. Studies have shown that yoga may reduce anxiety and stress. You may think you need a mat, but you can start a yoga chair routine. Typical chair yoga moves include poses like the seated twist, wrist and finger stretches, and seated crescent moon pose. If seated yoga is not appealing, then try a five-minute break stretching poses while standing.
Practice, Practice, Practice
There are many approaches to relieving stress at work. Finding ways to relieve stress is one strategy for learning how to deal with a stressful job. The seven items listed are easy and simple steps you can take in the workplace. You can perform other stress-relieving steps at home. The key to success is consistency. Practice chair yoga every day. Eat healthy lunch foods every day. Take mental relaxation breaks every day. It is healthier to keep the stress level as low as possible to avoid stress and anxiety leading to chronic medical conditions.