How can you manage stress at work?
Living in Lagos and other major Nigerian cities, we start most mornings with traffic on the way to our offices where various meetings or responsibilities await us. Oftentimes, we multitask amidst several requests and interruptions, and at the end of the day, we head back to our homes through that same traffic where we have to think about home chores. The next day, we repeat the same process. The end result if not properly managed is – you guessed right – stress.
“I’m so stressed”!
We get it; today’s workplace is often a pressure cooker of tasks, meetings, deadlines, and priorities that can lead to stress and anxiety. People seem to pride themselves on saying how stressed they are but we should also pride ourselves in identifying the triggers and how to manage them. Failing to manage stress at work will have negative effects, not only on your physical and mental health but also on your productivity.
Common effects of stress on the body include:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Overeating or undereating
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
How stress happens
When we are overwhelmed and feel that certain situations are out of our control, the stress hormone called cortisol is activated, wearing us down physically, reducing concentration and adversely affecting our mental well-being.
Can you beat stress at work?
Absolutely! While we are unable to control certain situations, our reactions determine whether we will diffuse stress or increase it. Here are a few tips to help you cope with stress in the workplace:
Eat healthily and get enough sleep
We can’t say this enough; your diet can either energise or weaken you. Eat breakfast as this gives you enough energy to get the right start every morning. Also, not getting enough sleep exacerbates stress because you’re not getting the right refreshment that an adequate night rest brings. Find the right sleep pattern and try as much as possible to stick to it.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed or upset, take a few minutes to breathe deeply. This can help you ‘reset’. Breathe in for five seconds, hold and exhale through your nose. The good thing is that you can do this while at your desk.
Break a sweat
No, we’re not talking about abandoning your desk to run around the office in gym clothes. There are simple ‘deskercises’ you can indulge in without leaving your seat. If you can leave your desk, engage in some stretching exercises or take a brief walk to clear your head.
Play some music
Music is therapeutic; it relaxes the brain and helps in dealing with stress. It can also help you flow into your work. If your workplace permits listening to music during working hours, plug in your earphones and play some soft tunes.
Drink some tea
Among its many benefits, tea can lower cortisol levels in the body which in turn reduces anxiety. If you’re a coffee person, this can be hard to do but try it once in a while.
Managing stress is a highly personal undertaking and can vary widely from person to person. While these tips are not exhaustive, we believe they will help a great deal. Try them out and find what works for you.