At one point or another, we all have to deal with the pressure off work. There’s deadlines, long hours, and all manner of expectations placed upon us – it’s only natural to feel weighed down at times. However, if the stress that you’re experiencing persists and subsumes the rest of your life then it can become a huge problem.
The effects of chronic work-related stress can be devastating. You can begin to suffer from physical ailments as the result of a weakened immune system, and it can even increase your risk of obesity and heart disease. Psychologically, you may become anxious, depressed, have difficulty concentrating and even turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms that could potentially turn into addictions (e.g. alcohol).
Here are some healthy ways in which you can ease the stress that you may be experiencing:
Prioritise Your Mornings
Having a consistent, stress-free morning routine can really help you cope with the demands of the work day. This means having a hearty breakfast, caring for your hygiene, and trying to be present and refrain from anticipating the day ahead too much. See your mornings as an opportunity to give yourself some downtime.
It might help to wake up an hour or so earlier to free up a little more space for yourself. That being said, make sure you’ve gotten enough sleep – the recommended 6-8 hours would be ideal if it’s possible for you. Trouble sleeping is not only one of the potential side effects of stress but can also exacerbate it, so try to ensure that you’re as well rested as you can be.
Even if you’re a generally disorganised person, it might be worth planning your weeks. Setting goals for each day before you go into your week can really help to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Seeing tasks and commitments broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks by the hour will be a helpful visual guide to what you need to get done and when you need to do it. Once the allocated
time slot for that task is up, stop even if you’re not finished and move on to the next thing.
This boundaried approach to tackling work will help you to maintain productivity while reducing the likelihood of you feeling as though everything is piling up on top of you. Organisation goes for your work space as well – if you work at a desk, try to maintain it as best you can. A clear space helps to create a clear mind.
Know What Is Required of You
Unclear expectations are one of the main sources of work stress. If you’re not sure of what’s expected of you, talk to your superior to gain some clarity. This will stop you from feeling as though you’re doing too little, and in turn prevent you from overcompensating and doing too much. You definitely don’t want to overwork yourself at the expense of your mental and physical health.
In today’s digital age where our employers have constant access to us via email, it’s hard not to feel like we need to be available 24/7. It is essential that we understand that just because we can be contacted at any hour of the day, doesn’t mean that work is every hour of the day. It’s vital to set work-life boundaries so that the lines don’t become blurred, otherwise we’ll never clock out and that eventually leads to burnout.
Take Time to Recharge
Perhaps most importantly, we need to remember to make time for ourselves. This is by far the most effective way to combat stress, and is what maintains a healthy work-life balance. This doesn’t mean simply doing non-work related activities – this also means taking a break from thinking about work. One great way to do this is through consistent exercise. It rejuvenates the mind and body and requires focus – it can be almost meditative because it puts you so much into the present by getting you into your body. It’s essential of course to also make time for your passions and hobbies outside of work.
By taking these steps we can conquer what may seem at first like an insurmountable workload bearing down on us. You can’t work effectively if you’re not happy and healthy. Your needs always come first – work to live, don’t live to work.