Many business people find it easy to get caught up in the busyness of a typical day at the office. A little stress in the workplace is actually a good motivator. However, if you find yourself picking up a foam rubber stress ball to throw at a co-worker, you are experiencing abnormal amounts of stress.
Simply put, stress is your body’s natural reaction to demands placed upon it. From a chemical standpoint, when we are put into a physically or psychologically demanding situation, our hypothalamus gland at the base of our brain sets into place a series of chemical reactions that cause our heart to beat faster, our muscles to tense, and our body to perspire. Scientists refer to this as the “fight or flight” mechanism. This mechanism is a way of helping our physical body meet the perceived demands of a challenging situation.
Over time, excessive stress hormones can have a detrimental effect on our bodies including (but not limited to) headaches, high blood pressure, digestive issues, chest pain, and problems sleeping.
So… if stress is a “natural” reaction of a body that is seeking to protect itself, lets review a few ways to reduce workplace stress so we are prepared to combat its longterm physical effects.
- Don’t worry about things you cannot change. If you are concerned about something in your work environment and you can do something about it, do it. Otherwise, let it go.
- Be an effective manager of your time. In order to get more done during your day, rely on a time-management system. Whether you have an actual appointment book or depend on a smart phone, keep a record of all your engagements, and make a prioritized “to do” list. Don’t get in a rut doing the things at the bottom of your list just because they are easy.
- Seek to improve your physical work environment. Clean off your desk. Add a potted plant to your office. Better yet, find an attractive smelling herb. Isn’t everyone soothed with a little pot of rosemary on their windowsill?
- Choose a healthy diet. Certain food and drink can dramatically affect your state of mind. Salt, sugar, and caffeine are the biggest influences over our mental state, so go ahead and drink your caffeinated beverage of choice, but be aware that to much of any of these can affect your body’s ability to combat stress levels.
- Exercise routinely. Physical exercise is one of the easiest ways of reducing stress. For most of us, it is also one of the hardest to actually do, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The simple act of walking causes the body to release endorphins that will counteract those aforementioned stress hormones. So, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go outside for a few laps around the block on your lunch break. (Of course, it is recommended that you see your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)
No job on earth will ever be totally stress-free. We hope that by understanding what stress is, and having some tips on how to reduce your stress levels in the workplace, you will see a positive impact on your long-term health.