According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of adults in the UK report they’ve felt stress at some point in the last year to a point where they’ve felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Stress has almost become an accepted part of everyday life for many of us. However, stress can be incredibly detrimental to your health.
Effects of Stress
We’ve covered the effects of stress in more detail on our blog here. However, here’s a quick overview.
Your immune system becomes weaker: initially, stress actually strengthens your immune system. However, stress over a period of time will weaken your immune system and you’ll take longer to recover from illnesses and injuries.
You’re more at risk of a heart attack: Sustained stress will increase your blood pressure, forcing your heart to work harder. The longer this goes on, the higher the risk of a heart attack.
Your sleep could be affected: Prolonged stress can affect your sleep and even cause insomnia. It will also affect the quality of your sleep.
You could become depressed: Sustained stress has been shown to cause reduced levels of serotonin and dopamine, sometimes causing depression.
Your blood sugar could increase: Your body may react to increased stress levels by producing extra glucose to give you an energy boost. Over time, this could put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What can be done to reduce stress?
Do more exercise!
There are loads of benefits to be gained from exercise and where possible, people should exercise at least 2 or 3 times a week.
Exercise releases endorphins which help boost your mood and reduce your blood pressure.
Meditation is a great way to reduce blood pressure while relaxing your body and mind. How long you meditate for is totally up to you, but 2-3 minutes a day has been shown to be very beneficial in helping reduce stress.
It doesn’t need to be complicated either. Simply take some time to sit, relax and focus only on your breathing for a few minutes each day!
Laughter has been shown to help reduce inflammation in the arteries and reduce stress. Easier said than done when you’re stressed, but never underestimate the power of laughter!
Take a break from your screen
Staring at your screen all day is no good for anyone. For many of us, it’s not just part of our jobs but our daily lives. Whether it’s a PC screen, mobile or TV, take a bit of time to get away and do something different.
How can you do these at work?
Avoiding stress at work can seem like an impossibility at times. However, there are a few things you can do.
Speak to your manager: If you’re stressed at work, the first thing you should do is speak to your manager or a relevant person and tell them you’re stressed. Ultimately, your health should take priority over your job, so you need to take responsibility for it.
Letting your employer know is key, and they should help you out by looking at the cause or providing support through some form of counselling or an EAP.
Incorporate some exercise into your day: One of the main reasons citied by people for a lack of exercise is lack of time. For some people, exercise is already a part of their job.
It can be difficult to find the time and place for exercise too. However, there are a few ways you can fit exercise around your typical work day.
Doing exercise during your lunch break is a good way to incorporate exercise into your day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an intense HIIT workout, it could be as simple as just going for a walk.
It also helps if your workplace is near to a gym or if you can get discounted gym memberships through your employer.
Try meditating (just go for it!): As mentioned, this can be done a few minutes a day. It can be done in the morning before work or during your lunch break. Speak to your employer to see if you can get some dedicated space in the workplace that’s quiet for people to relax and de-stress!
Remember to take breaks when you can: It can be easy to go a while without getting away from your work. Of course, in a busy work environment this isn’t always easy. However, as mentioned it’s no good for your stress levels if you’re constantly staring at a screen all day.
Again, this could be one you speak to your boss about. You don’t have to take breaks every 5 minutes, but a few short breaks a day will help.
Some of the things mentioned here may require some help from your employer. However, increased stress levels are not good for either you or your employer. Take the first step and speak to your boss or the relevant person in your business, maybe HR. Then follow up by trying some of things mentioned here!
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