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How to Go From Distress to De-Stress
Stress affects one in five of the working population in the UK according to the Stress Management Society, affecting new recruits through to board—level directors, and costs employers £1.24 billion annually.
A recent stress guide for CEOs states that stressed individuals are only able to work to 60% of their potential productivity, with knock-on effects for their friends and colleagues.
So what are the possible impacts of stress, and how can they be dealt with?
The Impact of Stress
In many instances, many of us will fail to acknowledge the signs our body gives us if we are stressed. When we are overwhelmed, our wellbeing is threatened and our fight-or-flight response kicks in.
Cat Williams, from Stay Calm and Content, states that common signs of stress can be an increased heart rate or production of sweat, quicker breathing, and often feeling agitated with an inability to concentrate or sleep.
“You may also find yourself snapping at other people, being more self-critical or more impatient and argumentative with others” she adds.
“Working under constant stress is dangerous,” says life and business coach Rasheed Ogunlaru, “and typically means that you are only working to 40-60% of your capacity.”
Working under excess stress will impact your efficiency, decision making and creativity, meaning that your overall productivity will be disadvantaged.
In many instances, relationships at work and at home suffer because of stress. Becoming snappy and impatient with others can be a dangerous side effect of stress.
Misconception of Stress
If you’re working in a stressful job on a daily basis, you often ignore the signs of stress on your body.
Health and wellness expert Tiffany Cruikshank says:
“typically the body starts to bypass those sensations or reminders of stress, although this doesn't mean that we don't experience the effects of stress on our body or on things like our sleep, digestion, headaches or internal health in general.”
Another problem is that we tend to believe that there is an ideal time for us to relax, such as when our workloads lighten or when our diaries are less hectic.
The truth of the matter is that life never really slows down so relaxation should be part of your daily routine.
So what can you do to lower your stress levels?
If you’re looking for an instant release of tension, Neil Shah the Chief De-stressing Officer at The Stress Management Society, advises to gently rub or press the acupuncture points which can be found on either side of the bridge of your nose, around your eyes, soles of feet and fists. This simple and subtle technique makes it easy to do at any time whether you’re reading a report, in a meeting or travelling.
Don’t Let Work Define You
New York psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert believes it’s important to not define yourself by work alone and to be aware that you’re more than just an executive. You may be a parent, a spouse, a brother or sister, a son or daughter.
“Those who define themselves by their careers are more prone to being impacted negatively by work stress, whereas those who make it a point to wear other hats and enjoy varied aspects of life are more balanced and less impacted by such stress.”
To minimise stress, Cat Williams highlights a technique created by Paul Dolan called 'purpose versus pleasure', prioritising time for pleasurable activities in order. “The most important thing to think about is ‘with whom do I feel at my best' and ensure you spend more time with those people; ‘what activities make me feel at my best' and prioritise those activities, and so on.”
“One of the best techniques for stress release in all areas of living, from the workplace to being a parent is to practise mindfulness”
says motivational speaker Joan Moran.
“It’s about being present and staying fully conscious 100% of the time.”
All you need is to spend 10 minutes each day quietening your mind, observing your thoughts and anxieties without passing judgment, simply experiencing them. Focus on the present moment and nothing else.
See our page: Mindfulness. For more information.
Rasheed Ogunlaru says the key to avoid stress is to work shrewdly. Overworking and taking unfinished projects home often presses excessive strain on your work-life balance which ultimately handicaps your productivity.
Set alarms or reminders of when you should be leaving the office and take advantage of regular breaks throughout the day to stretch your legs and allow your mind to refocus. 'Micro-breaks' can start from 30 seconds and last to anything up to five minutes are said to improve mental acuity by 13%.
Focus on your Energy
Chris Johnson from On Target Living says:
“It’s important ‘to create an environment where you’re most challenging tasks are when you have the greatest energy.”
Aim to work on important or urgent tasks at times when you know you have the most focus, and productivity. Be sure to give yourself ample time too, whether it comes to preparing or being creative.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Understand and Manage Stress in Your Life
Learn more about the nature of stress and how you can effectively cope with stress at work, at home and in life generally. The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management eBook covers all you need to know to help you through those stressful times and become more resilient.
Stress, if not controlled, can be very damaging to your career, health and relationships.
By not addressing the issue, you are putting yourself at risk of potentially burning out and falling victim to damaging your health long-term. It is often the unspoken terror that results in poor performance and low morale, and can be a very isolating situation.
Yet by addressing the issue and using a range of techniques to help you relax, you’ll be on a journey from distress to de-stress, living a happier and healthier life.
About the Author
Charlotte Corner is a Content and Online PR Executive at Search Laboratory.