Many of us experience feelings of stress whether at work or in our private life. However not everyone realizes how much of an impact it can have upon their effectiveness at work.
Stress reduces our ability to concentrate and can make our interpersonal relationships with clients and colleagues difficult. It can leave us with a constant feeling of tiredness and perhaps even a desire not to be at work.
This can become a vicious circle where the need to work fuels stress which feeds the need to be away from work which causes feelings on concern and more stress.
Many people turn to their doctor for help with stress hoping that medication with solve the problem. Others turn to solutions such as alcohol.
The former can have side effects such as leaving you lethargic and the latter in the long run only increases the anxiety associated with stress. If neither of these methods work then what is the solution? There are three things that can improve your stress levels when at work and when not at work.
When at work
Having experienced the feeling of stress even travelling to work I know the importance of planning your day. It is best to do this the day before so that you go home each evening with a plan for the following day which hopefully allows you to switch off in the evenings.
Secondly take breaks during your day. Do not stay at your desk or in your office when you get a break. Even if it is just 10 minutes try to get outside, have a brief walk, see if you can find something to take your mind off things for a few moments. People watching is fine, sitting on a bench reading something light is also good. Make sure you have a proper break for lunch and once again do not stay in the work environment.
Any enlightened boss will know that a stressed worker is less effective so talk to them about the cause of your stress. If their is a particular aspect of your work that creates the most stress discuss it with them and see if you can agree a way to lessen you anxiety about the task.
When not at work
If at all possible try and leave work at your workplace even if it means staying a little longer to finish something so that your free time is your time. Exercise is excellent for combatting stress. Walking is absolutely fine and the method that I use. A half hour walk in a local park works wonders. Other people prefer to run, others to play a competitive sport such as squash or badminton. You will feel better because you have left work at the workplace and you have engaged with something different.
Finally try to plan to make effective use of your weekends and free time. Plan something for each weekend. If you just sit at home then your mind will drift back to your problems. Sunday nights are difficult for everyone but even more so if you are stressed. Find yourself a “Sunday evening” activity that will allow you to relax, enjoy the whole weekend and get to sleep.
So to recap, plan your days, take regular breaks and leave work at the workplace. When away from work find activities that give you some exercise and allow you to switch off.