April is Stress Awareness Month, which aims to increase public awareness about stress including highlighting the negative causes of stress, the negative effects stress can have on the mind and body, and how to relieve stress.
Unfortunately for all of us, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when we get home. Everyone experiences stress from time to time but when stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and wellbeing, which can lead to more stress and the vicious cycle continues.
To help, this Stress Awareness Month we wanted to share some tips for reducing stress from Sharon Melnick PhD, a business psychologist.
Act rather than react. You can control your actions and response to a situation but you can’t control outside factors or someone else’s response or action. Identify the aspects of the situation that you can control and the aspects you can’t. It may be difficult, but it’s important to let go of what you can’t change or control.
Take a deep breath. It might seem silly, but a deep breath acts like a kind of reset button for our brain and can help to calm us down and put things in perspective. A few minutes of deep breathing can help to restore balance. Simply inhale for 5 seconds, hold and exhale in equal counts through the nose.
Eliminate interruptions. Constant interruptions in the form of phone calls, emails, instant messages & pop-ins can distract us and add to our stress. Sometimes you can’t control the interruption, but you can control how to deal with it. The best thing to do is to prioritise things that come in. If it can wait until tomorrow, leave it until then and focus on the things that can’t wait. Close your office door or move to a quieter place in the office, put headphones in or put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’.
Schedule your day for energy & focus. If you push yourself for 8-10 hours with no breaks, productivity goes down, stress levels go up and you lose energy quickly. Schedule breaks throughout the day to walk, stretch at your desk or do a breathing exercise. Taking five minutes to reset and recharge can help to reduce stress and increase productivity and energy.
Get some sleep. This can be tricky because the more stressed we are the harder it is to get a good night’s sleep. We all know sleep helps the body to recover and re-energise, so find what works for you to help you sleep better.
Stress is a part of life, but don’t let it turn into a vicious cycle. Take a breather and try to let go of the things you can’t control. Your personal and professional life will benefit. And you can get back to enjoying life & the work that you do!