While stress is practically a given with any and every job, there are differing levels of it depending on the nature of your work. Although it’s inevitable, that doesn’t mean that you should simply accept high-levels of stress on a permanent basis, as this can be detrimental to both your long-term physical and mental health.
In some circumstances, low-levels of stress can help you to remain sharp and focused, as the release of stress hormones can trigger the fight-or-flight response, helping you to respond quickly to unfamiliar or difficult circumstances. Ordinarily, once the stress-inducing event is over, your stress hormones will return to normal with no long-lasting effects. However, prolonged exposure to stress can hold you in a permanent state of fight-or-flight, which is overwhelming and impacts your ability to cope with any other stressors in life.
Over time, this can lead to ineffective coping methods, frustration, aggression, and, in the most severe of cases, depression. As a result, your work can be negatively impacted, due to clouded judgement, indecisiveness and lack of sleep – thus perpetuating this cycle of stress.
Physically, long-term stress can impact your body in a number of ways, including anxiety attacks, digestive issues – such as indigestion, IBS, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux – heart palpitations, persistent headaches, and various aches and pains. If this then continues for an inordinate amount of time, your short-term memory capability can be reduced and your overall eating habits impacted, causing you to either gain or lose weight at an unhealthy rate. High-levels of stress drawn out over a long period can also impact your body’s ability to replenish cells at an effective rate, leading to early signs of ageing.
But what if you are financially dependent on your job and have no option to look elsewhere for a position? Well, you need to identify ways to manage and reduce your overall stress levels – or suffer the negative physical and mental effects of ignoring your issues.
We’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help you deal with your work-related stress levels and regain your sense of control.
When you’re dealing with work-related stress, it can seem impossible to switch off and focus on anything with your full attention. This can make it difficult for you to choose an activity to do where you can have fun but not engage your brain (which probably feels full to the brim with you work stresses) with overwhelming tasks that require concentration.
This is where many people enjoy playing games to help them switch off, whether it’s an immersive RPG in a fantasy world, an adrenaline-pumping FPS that you can play with friends, or online casino and slot games, such as those available on spin casino NZ. Although this form of recreation has been disparaged over the years, deemed ‘mindless entertainment’, it is exactly this element of it that makes it such a good way to unwind when your job is getting too much for you.
Even if gaming isn’t really your thing, taking a few minutes to play a game – either alone or with friends – can do wonders for your mental health, helping to relieve stress and raise your level of endorphins.
The concept of journaling has been around for centuries as a way of offloading difficult feelings and exploring your mindset. Not only can you organise your thoughts – which, when stressed, can become jumbled, difficult to decipher, and overwhelming – you can self-reflect on what exactly it is causing your stress levels to spike and identify your triggers. This helps you to reflect on your difficulties and recognise your responses to them, in order for you to identify the ways in which your response could have affected the trajectory of different situations, particularly in your work environment, when you may react out of instinct and with emotion that is actually counterintuitive. Alongside this, you can actually inspire an element of creativity in yourself and find multiple ways of identifying and achieving your goals – both in and out of work.
The clarity that is birthed from such a process can help you to pinpoint solutions that will benefit your mental health, as well as generate courage to face your work stress head-on.
Practised by Buddhist monks and within Hinduism for hundreds of years, meditation is a contemplative technique that allows you to become more emotionally stable and mental clarity. As the practice has moved into Western society, it has been utilised in various non-spiritual areas outside of religion.
The reported benefits of meditation are that it helps to sate the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase self-reflection and mental well-being. There are various different meditation techniques that you can practise, each replete with its own benefits and positives depending on your needs. In stressful work situations, it can help you to identify the core issues (rather than just your reactions to them) and therefore enables you to structure the most effective response to them.
There are various different types of meditation to choose from, each derived from different origins and thus boasting different benefits. Mindfulness meditation, for example, encourages you to focus on the drawing in and releasing of your breath, helping you to recentre yourself and focus your mind on the present. A core element of this is recognising the moments when your mind wanders, and establishing ways of refocusing yourself – increasing self-discipline as a result.
Even though it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a cure-all for life’s issues, it can certainly help with the release of stress and help you to clear your thoughts, which is a step on the way to resolving stress-causing issues in your life.
A Good Old Vent
There’s nothing that helps you to get things off your chest and relieve stress like a good old vent, is there? The worst thing that you can do for your own mental health and well-being is to bottle up your stresses, worries, and concerns and let them grow into monsters that control your every action.
Whether you choose to engage in therapy, where you can discuss and analyse your behaviour, identifying solutions that will benefit you, or talk to a close friend/loved one, even just the process of expressing your feelings can help you to relieve the tension built up in your muscles created by holding your emotions inside.
The aim of this is not to necessarily create viable solutions for your stressors, but to simply talk them through with someone who is able to emotionally support you and validate your worries – and the benefits of this cannot and should not be underestimated.
Establish Firm Boundaries
If work is your primary stressor, and this is due to overwhelming responsibilities, the requirement to be constantly available for work-related tasks, and feeling underappreciated by your boss or colleagues, you may very well not have established secure boundaries that benefit your mental health.
The best way to resolve this is to first of all realise what behaviour is exhibited by others at work that makes you feel stressed and overwhelmed, and which tasks you feel you’re asked to do that go above and beyond your job remit. Once you’ve done this, you can start to establish boundaries. This might consist of re-establishing your exact role at work with your manager to firm up the tasks that are within your job description, requesting that emails aren’t sent to you outside of work, or renegotiating your work hours with an emphasis placed on maintaining your mental health.
An excellent way of releasing stress and reducing tension is to engage in a sport in your down-time. Not only will you gain more opportunities to get yourself outside and absorb some all-important Vitamin C, but you will also increase your physical health and raise your endorphin levels.
Whether you enjoy pounding the pavement in running shoes to a high-octane beat, pulling on some boxing gloves and releasing your rage on a punch bag, or kicking a ball about with friends, there’s a whole host of sports activities you can engage in to reduce your work-related stress levels, improving your mental health while finding an outlet for your emotions.
In conjunction with other methods – such as meditation mand journaling – sports activities can help you to feel more in control of your life and relinquish the stress you accumulate during your job.
The long-term effects of stress can impact more than just you – it can have a knock-effect on your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, leaving you feeling isolated and continuing the cycle. The first step you need to take is to acknowledge the stress you’re experiencing at work and identify exactly what it is causing it. Pay attention to the emotional and physical signs that signal elevated stress levels, and find the best ways to combat it. First-things-first, take some time to relax and unwind, you should begin to address the initial steps you can take. For example, make a list of the stressors that can be resolved easily at work, or those that you can’t do anything about.
However you choose to approach the situation, it’s important that you don’t ignore the tense shoulders, headaches, digestive problems, and inability to sleep, and instead start to build in stress-combatting activities.
The most important thing you can do, though, is to realise when it is that you need to ask for some help and support – it could do you the world of good.