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Combatting Stress in the Workplace

Stressed out at workStress is a part of everyday life, but too much stress can become overwhelming and have adverse effects on your physical and mental health.  Physical symptoms of stress can include fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, chest pains and a weakened immune system.  Although some factors in your daily life are out of your control, there are several things you can do to manage your stress in the workplace effectively:

Take care of yourself.  Wellness comes from within, and making your health a priority is the first step to managing stress.  Exercise is also a highly effective stress reliever.  As little as 30 minutes of physical activity each day can enhance your mood and help you relax.  Your blood sugar levels are directly tied to your mood.  Eat small and frequent meals to avoid a mid-day crash and choose your food carefully.  Avoid sugary snacks and eat a balanced diet to keep you energized all day.  Similarly, alcohol and nicotine can provide temporary relief from stress, but both are stimulants that can lead to higher levels of anxiety once their effects wear off.

Recognize the physical warning signs.  Do you feel anxious or irritable?  Do you have trouble sleeping or have difficulty concentrating on your responsibilities?  You may be suffering from stress overload.  It’s important to recognize the warning signs so you can identify your personal triggers and make the appropriate changes.  We all handle stress differently. 

Work smarter to efficiently manage your responsibilities.  Sometimes tweaking the way you get your job done can ease the stress of your daily workload.  Create a balanced schedule and don’t over commit to projects you simply don’t have the time for.  Be sure to take breaks throughout the day to go get some fresh air to clear your mind.  Establish your priorities so you can channel your energy towards the most important tasks, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Identify bad habits that may be holding you back.  Bad habits sneak up on us, and although they may seem insignificant, they could be causing roadblocks in your performance and causing you extra stress.  Something as simple as negative self-talk could be causing you to overlook your successes and de-motivate you.  Procrastination is another bad habit that can cause stress.  Are there things that you are doing, or not doing, that are making your job more difficult?  Do your best to break bad habits and alleviate challenges that could be disrupting your day.

Speak to a medical professional.  Sometimes no amount of discipline or self-awareness can break the cycle of stress.  If your stress level has become too much to handle, or there are outside factors such as harassment in the workplace, you may need to seek additional help.  Your family doctor or a councilor can help you assess your circumstances to determine the best way to handle your situation.

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