Stress Management: A Few Steps Towards Healthier Living

Stress affects us all in different ways but stress is on the rise globally. Find out how you can manage stress at work, at home and in your life. Written by Letícia Miranda.

Combatting Stressful Work« Back to Articles

Nowadays, it is rare to find someone who does not have any complaints about stress. Stress is a term that has been used with increasing frequency by people distressed with traffic, family worries, economic circumstances, insecurities, career concerns, emotional relationships and, yes, even the performance of one’s own football team! Stress is everywhere. Sometimes, it is fair to say, when we say we are stressed, we probably aren’t. Yet, there is a growing concern that stress is on the increase and mounting pressures on us all are attributed to that stress.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world is experiencing a stress epidemic. About 90% of the population suffers from the effects of the condition. However, prospects are even more worrying when we add to this account the impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic is bringing to the mental health of an entire global population.

The first step to combating stress and its effects is to become aware of the problem and to make positive changes in your routine and lifestyle. Counting on the help of a health professional can be an essential in some cases but there is a lot you can do to help yourself first. It is important to understand that stress is not a disease. It is a natural reaction, essential in the face of a variety of situations, such as dangerous or uncomfortable circumstance.

Feeling stressed at one time or another is completely normal, especially in the face of adverse scenarios, such as the current one. It is a common process in several stages of life, which is directly related to anxiety. Stressed individual usually feels anxious, but not always. Anxiety is not a bad feeling and can even be beneficial when its intensity is mild to moderate. In practice, an “optimal level” of anxiety can actually improve concentration and performance. However, when anxiety becomes excessive and goes out of control, the yield of performance drops, anxiety takes on a destructive character and can lead to chronic stress.

Our body is prepared to deal with stressful conditions, but it needs to alternate them with periods of relaxation to regain hormonal balance. The frustrating reality is that the cause of stress is so often related to work in the modern world that it is practically impossible to dissociate the two. After all, most of our time is devoted to working hours, and not always for pleasure but for necessity (the likes of which can end up causing even more stress). Put simply, it can be a vicious cycle.

Stress at work, when felt for long periods without respite, can lead to serious illnesses, such as anxiety, depression or even burnout syndrome. In addition, physical changes can be felt in your body, such as insomnia, bruxism, change in appetite and libido, hair loss, lack of attention, muscle pain and even a drop in immunity. We know, sorry, this is not cheery, but it is a reality that we should all be aware of.

Stress in work is something we often take home from work too. This is even more apparent with home and remote working that we have faced in 2020. Problems start to appear in one’s own personal life. Fortunately, it’s not all gloom and doom. Whilst stress may be on the rise, the awareness of it and the counteracting solutions are on the rise too. Organisations are more aware of just how detrimental stress can be and are taking proactive steps to combat it. Talking about it and sharing concerns with your line manager, your people management team or a mentor can be a great first step to changing stressful circumstances. As well as sharing your concerns, we have put together a few ways in which you can reduce stress, below.

How can I reduce stress at work and maintain emotional control?

At work:

  • Learn to delegate tasks to others when possible – if you feel unable to handle your workload, raise this is as soon as possible with your line manager or boss. Your organisation has a duty of care and if you don’t have capacity or the ability to cope with all your work, you should not feel afraid to raise this concern.
  • Monitor your time carefully and ensure you have an organised calendar
  • Place anti-stress items on the table, such as squeezing balls, toys, plants. Seriously, this may sound silly, but they can be a real help in tough times! Add a relaxing background to your desktop too!
  • Avoid gossip and steer clear of useless information unrelated to your job, role or department. It’s easy to drown in memos, notices and changes happening at work in larger organisations but most of the time, the notices you receive won’t have any impact or affect on you. Read them all and quickly move on and dismiss those that don’t require your attention.
  • Create healthy connections with co-workers and avoid social isolation. Find a mentor, mentor someone else and form networking connections. Mentoring and networking in an organisation can add incredible support and energy into work.
  • Establish your own limits and stick to them. No, your mental health should not suffer at the cost of workload.

  • At home:

  • Try changing your commute. If you find you are stressed by driving to work, try a bicycle, subway, or shared car. This will not only help you get your working day off to the right start but could add exercise and fun into it.
  • Exercise in the morning or at night. This greatly relieves the tension generated in the body by stress at work. Exercise in the morning will release endorphins to help you glide through the day too!
  • Decrease your intake of stimulating drinks like coffee and drink more teas, especially around bedtime. When stressed, it’s easy to rely on caffeine to power on through, but caffeine can actually create more stress for your body.
  • Avoid the mobile phone and television for at least 30 minutes before bed. This is well known but very frequently ignored. You will sleep better and give your brain more time to rest, relax and recover after a stressful day.
  • Improve posture. Seriously. As I write this, I realise I’m slouching and that’s really not good. Sitting up straight can improve blood flow and puts less stress on our bodies.
  • Try to go more to parks and gardens. Keeping in contact with nature helps to reduce stress hormone, heart rate and breathing rate.
  • Eat healthily and cut the alcohol when you can. This one won’t just help stress, but it is a contributing factor. Just like caffeine, unhealthy food and alcohol can cause stress on the body. Whilst there’s a temptation to relax and unwind with the help of alcohol, the effects are short lived, and the longer-term impacts can cause further tension and stress on the body.
  • If you genuinely come home from work exhausted and stressed for a prolonged period of time, it’s time to consider moving roles or even companies.

  • As you have noticed, stress can be subtle, but overwhelming. However, it has treatment that can be adapted to your reality. At the first signs, get help, change habits, and consider how stress is impacting you. More than anything, take time to switch off and unwind regularly.
    Mentoring Solutions: PushFar
    We are a global mentoring solution for individuals and organisations! We can help you get a mentoring scheme up and running in minutes or help you to find mentors, mentees and career progression.