It’s no secret that stress can impact every aspect of our lives – and none of us are immune to it, quite simply, we have all been there.
There are many reasons behind why we might feel stressed – from financial woes to relationship struggles and everything in between. However in the US, after finances, work is the biggest cause of stress – with 60% of those surveyed (Stress In America 2015) claiming work was the reason behind their stress levels.
Employees who suffer with stress are less likely to turn up to work, have lower levels of engagement and are significantly less productive than those who consider themselves stress free. According to the Global Benefits Survey, a study of over 22,000 employees across 12 countries – including the US – over half of the employees claiming to be stressed in the workplace, also reported feeling disengaged at work.
But what happens when work-related stress begins to take over your life and what actions should you be taking to help relieve the pressure and focus on the things that really matter?
Stress is not only a mental chore, it can also have a number of physical symptoms that can continue well after we have left the office for the day, including but not limited to;
- Insomnia and sleep disturbance
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
- Increased heart rate
- Sweaty palms
- Difficulty swallowing or a “lump in the throat”
- High blood pressure
- Constant worrying
- Loss of appetite/overeating
With so many Americans suffering from work-related stress, actions such as changing your job or switching companies are often not enough to banish the blues – however there are several actions you can take that should help you back on the road to relaxation and stress free living.
Learning how to relax is a lot harder than most of us realize – and as much as we all love our annual two weeks in the Bahamas, with another 50 weeks to worry about, we often find ourselves just as stressed within a few weeks of returning to the office.
So what steps can we take to ensure stress and it’s symptoms are kept at bay?
For many stressed Americans, relieving the symptoms of stress is often more important than actually removing stress from their lives, in turn making their symptoms more manageable before tackling the stress head on when they are ready.
Those suffering with insomnia can often benefit from a better nighttime routine, for example settling down earlier in the evening and taking time to relax and reflect before getting into bed, whilst those keeping their partners awake at night through grinding their teeth could take advantage of wearing a night guard – which will both protect your teeth and give your partner a better nights’ sleep.
Bruxism, more commonly referred to as teeth grinding, can even offer a medical benefit – should the sufferer be wearing a mouth guard. Grinding of the teeth is a natural method of releasing aggression which, in turn, modulates stress – however without a mouth guard tooth grinding will only keep you away and destroy your teeth.
To relieve feelings of anxiety you might consider seeking therapy – especially if you find stress is affecting your appetite, sex drive or you simply find yourself constantly worrying. Whilst those of you who’s appetites are affected by stress could benefit from speaking to a nutritionist or dietitian to help get back on track.
When you are ready to tackle stress itself, there are a number of practices that are thought to help you relax and lessen feelings of stress, including:
The practice is thought to not only have a physical impact on the body, but also mental benefits – especially when combined with meditation. Yoga is one of the easiest exercises to break in to; most good gyms and fitness centers will offer classes, but it can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home through the growing number of online instructors on YouTube.
Mediation – or the art of emptying your mind – is often used to relieve the body of symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and even high blood pressure. The practice dates back to the 5th and 6th centuries BCE and is thought to have originated from the Hindu Vedas of India and Nepal. Those who successfully manage to meditate report less stress, lower levels of anxiety and it is thought over a quarter of US work-places actively encourage work-based meditation amongst their employees in order to relieve work-based stress.
With February around the corner many of us are drawing up extensive exercise and diet routines to help budge the holiday bulge – however even a quick walk around the block or simply switching the elevator for the stairs can help release the right endorphins and distract you from the stresses around you, in turn helping you to enjoy a more relaxed work day.
Taking time to tackle the symptoms of stress and working towards living a more relaxed lifestyle will not only take a weight off your own shoulders, but it will also open the door to finding your old self again – leaving you free to enjoy life the way you deserve to.