In today’s fast-paced society, it can sometimes feel like stress is one of the only constants.
Global statistics show an increasing number of people are struggling with mental health issues, with one of the key factors that can affect it being work-related stress.
According to the UK Government, over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work. Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work, so it’s important for both employees and managers alike to be able to recognise when it’s an issue and learn how to address it in the right way.
Thankfully, we’re now talking more openly about these problems than ever before with more people demanding their employers prioritise the topic of mental health in the workplace.
So what can we do to reduce stress at work? As we’re all well aware, avoiding stress can seem like a near impossible task, but if we can learn a few tips on how to deal with stress better, we can reduce the long term effects and decrease the frequency of extreme stress.
Here are a few top tips to help you manage those day-to-day stressors…
We know it’s not new advice, but it really is true that you need to avoid processed foods such as sugars, common allergens like gluten and dairy; and stock up on foods which are high in fibre and protein.
Adrenal function is significantly influenced by blood sugar levels, so it’s important to stabilise these by watching the consumption of products high in sugar.
Although it might be tempting to reach for that sugar-filled biscuit in the office kitchen, try to switch to a healthy alternative, like raw vegetables and hummus. Alternatively, a fruit tea can help satisfy a mid-afternoon sugar craving!
“Take a full hour for lunch and get out. If you can step away from the stressful environment and change scenery this will massively help to reduce stress levels.” – Rosie Millen (Miss Nutritionist)
Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? It makes us feel brighter, healthier and ready to start the day. Sleep has also proven to help reduce the feelings of stress, leading to a more positive mindset.
Unfortunately, sleep often tends to be the first thing affected when we feel stressed, so it’s a bit of a catch-22. If sleep is something you struggle with, then spend time winding down before getting into bed. Try reading, listening to calming music, meditating or drinking herbal tea and be sure to avoid drinking caffeine past 5 pm.
Music has a unique link to our emotions and can be used as an extremely effective tool to manage stress.
Quiet and calming classical music can have a beneficial effect on your physiological functions, slowing your pulse, heart rate, lowering your blood pressure and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. So put your headphones in, find a relaxing playlist and let the music calm your mind.
With an abundance of proof for the correlation between exercise and a healthy mind, getting active is a brilliant way to deal with stress. Exercise helps improve self-perception and self-esteem, mood, sleep quality as well as reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.
If high-intensity exercise isn’t your thing, something as easy as a brisk 10-minute walk a day can help get those endorphins pumping. Try getting off the tube or the bus a stop early to get your steps in!
Talk about it
One of the best ways to deal with stress is opening up and talking about your concerns with someone you trust. As an employer it’s important to offer employees a safe space to be able to have those conversations.
Studies have shown that the simple act of putting your feelings into words (even putting pen to paper) can be cathartic and calming.
Take a break
Everyone needs time off, whether that means lying on an exotic beach in the sunshine or simply turning your phone off and spending valuable time with someone you’re close to. We all need to be able to establish boundaries between work and play. It’s during these times we are able to slow our busy thoughts and relax, thus slowing your heartbeat and help manage your stress.
Set alarms at two intervals in the day, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon to take 10. Go for a stroll, grab a herbal tea, or pop to the loo to do some breathing exercises—anything that breaks the stress cycle.
Contributor: Rosie Millen (corporate nutritionist and public speaker)
Whilst we hope these tips can help those looking for some stress management advice, it’s also important to consider other lifestyle factors which may be impacting your mental health. If you would like further advice, Mind.org is a great source for help and support.