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  • 10 Keys To Handling Workplace Stress

    10 Keys To Handling Workplace Stress

    According to the HSE , in 2015/16, 11.7 million work days were lost to the effects of Stress. Workplace stress is becoming recognised as an ever increasing problem. Half of us say they are experiencing stress in their lives. Juggling home and work. Longer hours. Not being able to switch off due to smart phones and emails. A feeling of uncertainty and worry about what the future holds. All these things, and more, contribute to the constant stress felt.

    Stress can leave you feeling like you have no control, exhausted and fearful that you cannot cope with life. However, there are 10 key factors that can help you to regain your power and feel more in control of your life again.

    1) Understand and recognise your triggers.

    Instead of ignoring or pushing down the way you feel, get to know what your feelings are saying to you. Emotions are messages. If you ignore them, they only get stronger. Once they are heard and understood, you can start making choices in how you can then respond. When you know the feelings, you can then take appropriate action before the feeling gets too big and becomes unhelpful. Learn to recognise the stress so you can control it, rather than it controlling you. There are exercises you can learn that can help to reduce unhelpful emotions and feelings

    2) ​Speak up!

    If you feel comfortable to do so, tell your manager/boss how you are feeling. They are best placed to make any changes that could ease you. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious. It is your body responding to the environment you are in. Until you tell someone, nothing can happen to change your situation. If you don’t feel comfortable with speaking with your manager, speak with a friendly colleague. Often, speaking through your troubles, is a great way for you to get a deeper awareness to what is happening. If you are at the top then work out who you can trust to open up too. The important thing is you trust the person as you need to feel safe as you open up.

    3) ​Be mindful of what you can and cannot control.

    You can’t control the attitude of your colleague, your boss or those that you manage. Using the exercises to let these things pass you by. However, focus on what you can control – these include your actions, your mindset, attitude and how you communicate.

    4) ​Sleep!

    Make sure you get good, consistent and long enough sleep. We all need about 7-8 hours a night. Even at the weekend keep to the same sleep routine and make sure it is good quality sleep. Have at least 1 hour from a screen before bed. Reduce caffeine, recreational drugs, nicotine and alcohol. These affect the quality of sleep. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and temperate.

    5) ​Food and Drink.

    Keep stimulants such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol to a minimum. These all have a big impact on mood and wellbeing. Green tea is a great alternative to coffee. Instead of refined sugars and carbs (such as white bread and pasta) choose slow releasing carbs
    (brown rice, wholewheat bread and oats). Eat at regular intervals with protein, (lean meat, nuts, oily fish or egg) with each course. Don’t skip meals especially breakfast. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can lead to increased levels of cortisol. Nuts (almonds & walnuts), seeds (pumpkin seeds) and fruit (blueberries) are easy to store at your desk. Drink plenty of water – dehydration increases the stress on the body. A bit of organisation with your food can make the difference to your energy levels and your mood. Alcohol may seem like a good way to relax, but in fact it has the opposite reaction. It stops you sleeping well, can increase stress and reduces cognitive abilities.

    6) ​Exercise

    For the release of endorphins, reduction of cortisol and feel good factor, fit exercise into your day. Some examples are getting off public transport early and walking the rest of the way to work or walk round the block in your break. Yoga, running, gym, swimming or Pilates are all possible if you do some research in your area. There are gyms on every corner – some even offer to wash your exercise clothes! This will release your stress, make you feel better and have much more energy.

    7) ​Prioritise.

    Keep it in perspective. Prioritise what is important. Keep your personal expectations in perspective. Many things are fine being good enough. Reaching perfection is near to impossible. Doing your best and being good enough is realistic.

    8) ​Meditation/ Mindfulness

    Bringing in the practice can make huge differences to how you feel. Whether it is sitting for 20 minutes or being mindful for a minute, as you wash your hands, enables you to refocus and reset. Bringing your attention to how you feel at that moment, can release you from a dream like state. Focusing your mind, without judgement, still the wandering mind. This can create an openness and clarity that makes decision making easier; improves memory and gives a sense of wellbeing within your life.

    9)​ Enrich your life

    Bring enriching activities into your life that are interesting and feed your soul. Examples are reading, walking in nature, art and crafts, joining a club, learning something new, cultural events. What would enrich your life?

    10) ​Socialisation and connection

    We are all in need of connection with others. It is the fundamental need of all humanity. Depression, addiction and unhappiness are often due to a lack of connection.Reconnect with friendship, family. Connect with like-minded people, belonging to a group, community and pets.

    If you are feeling stressed, take a look at these keys and work out which ones are missing from your life. What could be the first step you could make to a calmer and more contented life?

    I would love to hear what changes you can make to improving your wellbeing and reducing your stress. Please comment below and tell me your story.

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