Work Stress: Coming Down With A Case of the Mondays?

It’s likely that you have been in a similar scenario at some point. Maybe you’re late to work, and its Monday morning (traffic is a nightmare).  Perhaps you have a deadline looming or a huge presentation? Or maybe you have three bosses who are all asking you about those TPS reports?

No matter what you do, it’s tough to avoid stress in your life.  Whether it’s paying your bills, getting prepared for a meeting, or taking care of your children, stress is prevalent in different forms. Although it may be tough to predict every stressor and be prepared for it, hopefully today’s article will help you cope with your work stressors a little better.

What is stress? It is our body’s way of coping with specific situations or demands that come our way. Some of these may be positive and some negative. Although “stressful” often implies a bad situation, not all stress is negative. In reality we need some level of stimulation to help our bodies function properly. Unfortunately, balancing good and bad stress is difficult, and more often than not people tend to let stress overwhelm them and impact their work and home life.

Persistently high levels of stress have been linked to common medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Chronic stress can also take a toll on your immune system making it more difficult to fight off illness. Feeling sick and having stress at work is a toxic formula for trouble.

While Lindsay Lohan’s stress has her punching partygoers, you may want to consider other strategies to relieve yours. Here are some tips to rethink your workplace strategy!

 Commute: Stress starts before you even get to work, especially if you have a long commute. This can leave you feeling like you woke up on the wrong side of the 405 Freeway. Rushing out the door or driving in traffic can signal the body to increase production of stress hormones, and leave you feeling anxious and on edge by the time you get to your desk. Try setting an alarm on your cell phone for ten minutes before you should be out the door. This will remind you to pick up the pace and get moving on time.

Time management: Deadlines can be a very stressful part of many jobs. Whether you’re in construction or production, things have to get done when they’re expected to. Procrastination is a very common problem that is frequently associated with stress. Try not to procrastinate! Make a list of things you need to get done and aim to complete them 3 days before your deadline.  This will allow you a few more days to put final touches on your work and enough buffer incase disaster strikes. If you run a tight schedule and are always up to date, you’ll never bite off more than you can chew.

Exercise: Exercise and physical activity are GREAT ways to alleviate anxiety and stress. Both have been proven to increase overall well being AND immune system health! Also think about the other effects stress may cause long term: high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Exercising is a great way to work out some pent up energy. After exercising people often feel more relaxed, self-confident, and can think more clearly because of increased mental clarity. 

Laughter and mental relaxation:  Often times work and career related stress can cause significant anxiety. The best way to alleviate this feeling is to relax. If this sounds easier said than done, here are a few tips to calm your mind.  Take a deep breath in through your nose and hold it for a few seconds. Exhale for five seconds. Repeat this exercise with your eyes closed for three or four cycles. Before opening your eyes imagine a place you like to visit. Focus on a particular item in this place for another ten to fifteen seconds. This will allow you to refocus your energy and lower your stress. This may be too “Zen” for you, but give it a try because it actually works.   

Laughter can also help alleviate stress and anxiety. Pick out a funny YouTube clip (hopefully its work appropriate), or cartoon that can help you forget your stress for a few moments. This can also help you to re-energize and tackle your work with a clear mind.

Change always takes time. Give yourself and your body a few moments each day to refocus and dial down your stress level. If you find that stress has become so significant that you are unable to function, or complete your daily activities, consider speaking with your physician for more information.