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Stressed At work? Try These Strategies To Take The edge Off & Restore Your Chill

Category: Health  

Stress is one of the most damaging psychological conditions affecting the human body. When the mind feels it is under stress the body releases cortisol (aka “the stress hormone”) in response, raising both blood pressure and heart rate.

Chronic stress overloads mental and physical functions and can do more damage than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years. Negative effects of stress are compounded by its disruption sleep and appetite, resulting in a feeling of being out of sync and off balance. Because we can’t keep stressors out of our lives completely, it is important to learn effective stress management techniques. Taking time throughout the day to mindfully reduce the impact of stress can make a significant difference in how you feel by the end of the day. Here are five easy suggestions for the relief of daily stress.

Give these a try

1.Stretching

A nice, relaxing stretch can be done anywhere anytime but we often forget to do this until we are tied in painful knots from sitting and worrying for hours. Take a couple of minutes throughout the workday to do a few brief stretches for your back or shoulders, for example, or, if you have the space and a bit of privacy, do some quick yoga moves for an all-body tension reliever. Stretch breaks give your body and mind a much-needed time out, allowing you to just be in the moment and relax. For maximum effect don't wait till the end of the day to do this--put a timer on your phone to remind you and stick to it.

2.Breathing

“Must I really be reminded to breathe?” Gosh, we hope not! What we’re talking about here is deliberately inhaling and exhaling to a particular rhythm or time interval. This might take a few more minutes than stretching but is a readily available and very effective way to halt the inevitable build-up of unacknowledged stress. Begin by inhaling deeply into your lungs til they are fully expanded and hold the breath for a count of four. Then slowly release the breath for a count of ten. This is just one of many relaxation breathing methods, and is an excellent way to calm and focus your mind. Regulating your breathing is also a good way to gain back control if you start to panic. Learning to breathe may sound silly and basic but is often overlooked and can be extremely helpful when life is stressing you out.

3.Drink a cup of tea

What's great about this one is that it's readily available--most workplaces have a break room, a cafeteria, or are near restaurants and coffee shops where you can decompress. Try to choose a non-caffeinated herbal type for this relaxation interlude. You want to get your heart rate back to normal and otherwise banish the stress-caused jitters. A soothing cup of hot tea goes a long way toward making you feel calm and comforted. Focus on drinking the tea slowly; inhale the steam. The distractions of your surroundings will melt away, and you’ll feel at ease.  

In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep.

Try these simple tips

4. Get outside

No matter where you work--a high-rise commercial building, a street level retail establishment, an alcove home office--make it a point spend some time outdoors each day. Yes, this includes rainy and snowy days. Fresh air is beneficial for the mind and body in so many ways. Changing your surroundings allows you to move, which is another very important thing you can do to stay sharp mentally as well as physically. Being outside forces you to pay attention to where you are going, where you’ve been, and everything around you, plus it boosts creative thinking. As with the stretching and breathing breaks, put a reminder on your phone to get out of your work environment for awhile.

5.Laughing

Laughter is, hands down, the best stress reliever ever. How can you stay upset when you’re gasping for breath and crying from laughing so hard? Okay, the gasping and crying doesn’t sound so relaxing, but you know what we mean. Although you shouldn’t laugh at the people you work with (at least, not to in front of them), finding a reason to giggle on the job is a wonderful way to turn on those endorphins. Having a sense of humor at the absurdities in life will keep the stress monster at bay (it doesn’t like to be laughed at either!). Humor is free, and it makes the time go by faster. Get your cackle on by watching Funny or Die, clips of stand-up comics, reading funny books (Dave Barry is highly recommended), whatever makes you snicker. Your mental health will thank you; laughter really can be the best medicine!

Most healthy adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep to allow our body's to recover and replenish itself.


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The takeaway

When implementing any of these stress relieving options, remember to schedule them during legit down time in your work day. You don’t want to get into trouble for coping with stress (as that will increase your stress, thereby negating the relaxation attempt, or you may find it so funny that you laugh at your supervisor and get fired). It's important that we don't forget the little things in life that keeps us centered and (mostly) stress-free.