Managing and harnessing your stress levels for a great work week!
By Juliet Huang, 01 August 2018 1123
Work can get stressful with looming deadlines. That sinking feeling is real when the to-do list is neverending- that report due 2 days ago, a presentation due tomorrow, and on top of it, you still have to manage your daily life. What's worse is that when work becomes too overwhelming, your daily self-care routines can take a back seat which makes you even more stressed out! Often when work is overwhelming, we may neglect friends or family, choosing to turn to unhealthy habits such as eating mindlessly or sleeping late in order to avoid what's weighing on our minds. These bad habits will take a toll on our bodies and minds. Since stress is so, well, stressful, how can you cope with stress so that it helps, instead of hindering you? Here's how:
1. Learn to recognise the signs of stress.
High levels of stress can leave you feeling too tired and disinterested to continue with your task. That is what is commonly know in psych-speak as "burning out". Learning to recognise signs that you are too overwhelmed is important so that you take a step back and reassess your priorities. Here are some signs you can watch out for:High levels of stress can leave you feeling too tired and disinterested to continue with your task. That is what is commonly know in psych-speak as "burning out". Learning to recognise signs that you are too overwhelmed is important so that you take a step back and reassess your priorities. Here are some signs you can watch out for:
- When you are fatigued all the time. While it may be normal to feel tired after a long work day, feeling tired all the time, even when you have gotten your full 8 hours, is definitely unusual.
- If you find yourself always sick, or sluggish and bloated, it could be the result of not taking the time out to eat healthily and exercise, which further reduces your ability to cope with stress.
- Research has proven that stress causes weight gain around the belly!
- Physical appearances aside, mental fatigue can also be a sign of stress. Do you find yourself taking even longer coffee breaks than usual? Or putting off important tasks to mindlessly shred papers? This may be a sign that you are so mentally fatigued, you are procrastinating just so that you don't need to get started. A strong desire to procrastinate, coupled with frequent thoughts of quitting is definitely a sure sign of burn out.
2. Mental and physical strategies to prevent yourself from reaching burn-out.
In order to relieve the panic and anxiety from increasing work stress, you can try short-term measures like playing with stress balls or simply taking deep breaths to clear your mind. As the famous graffiti artist Banksy says, one should learn to rest, not to quit. Indeed, when thoughts of quitting cross our minds, our first thought may be that the job is not the right fit for us. But that may not be true! No matter how good we are at doing something, life throws us curveballs and we have to learn to rest in order to face new challenges.
Apart from that, eating well and exercising regularly is the best way in the long term to help us cope with stress. Eating well and exercising regularly prepares our body and mind to function well. Preparing your own meals and making time to exercise also forces you to disengage from work, and put yourself first. Whenever we get busy, we put taking care of ourselves at the bottom of the to-do list. But a car without oil and a working engine cannot possibly run, much less race. If you cannot set aside time to work out and prepare meals, build healthy habits in your daily routine. Try these small steps in fostering healthy habits:
- Choose to walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift
- Do without salad dressing when you get lunch at the mall
- Instead of watching TV after dinner, bring your children to the playground for 15 minutes to relax and unwind
- A simple choice of taking a walk in the park can also be so beneficial for your mental health.
Such acts, although seemingly small, will allow you to get your heart rate pumping, which leads to a release of endorphins, the happy hormones in our body that lift our mood.
3. Is stress necessarily bad?
Then again, is stress necessarily unhealthy? Not really. Stress motivates us to get things done and done fast. And some people thrive on moderate levels of stress, as it gives them the adrenaline rush to complete their work. So stress can be a highly motivating factor, especially for those who can only work when it comes to crunch time near deadlines! That said, too much stress is not good - unhealthy habits like a lack of exercise, eating at irregular times or eating fast food because it is convenient, not drinking enough water, and sleeping late will take a toll on your health. When that happens, no matter how much you are dedicated to your work, you won't be able to be productive as you'll be too sick and tired to focus.
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PS. Take up our exciting challenges and get rewarded while de-stressing!