When it comes to work related stress, the use of a term “burnout” has become really popular. If the stress you experience is too much to handle and you are getting close to that dangerous B zone, don’t hesitate to look for help. It doesn’t matter if your workplace is a hospital, classroom or a super-market, there are many factors besides the job description, that can cause stress, such as long hours, work relationships, job security etc. Burn the stress away before it gets serious by following these 5 steps that are based on scientific research.
Step 1: Let the mess inside your head out – talk to someone
Keeping your problems to yourself is one of the things that can lead to more stress. Researchers from California have proved the importance of sharing your feelings with someone in the same situation, in other words: a problem shared really is a problem halved. It doesn’t matter if you choose to talk to your colleagues who you have a lot of things in common with, or a friend who knows nothing about your daily work dynamics, but is willing to listen – just talk to someone. Sharing your fears, doubts and anger with someone who cares about you, or has a similar problem as you, is the best step to start recovering your inner strength and slowly reduce your stress level.
Step 2: Don’t be a bully nor a pushover – be assertive
One of the great things about assertiveness is that you can practice it, and practice makes perfect. Don’t rely on people to read your mind and don’t try to read theirs, because it’s the number one cause of misunderstandings and conflict. Communicating assertively means clearly and calmly expressing what you want without either being too passive nor too aggressive. First you need to acknowledge the other person’s situation or feelings and then include a statement in which you stand up for your rights. It’s important to describe how someone’s behavior makes you feel and offer a future alternative that meets needs and rights of both sides. As research at Charles Sturt University showed, being appropriately assertive in teams and workplaces is a crucial aspect of effective and satisfying work.
Step 3: Have your sleep and eat healthy too
If you are forgetting to attend a meeting, skipping meals, finding mysterious bruises on your body, have an urge to cry even if nothing serious has happened, you most definitely need to stop for a second and review your sleeping and eating habits. Don’t stay up late working, because you need your sleep to stay focused and to better deal with daily challenges. If you have problems with stress related insomnia, alleviating the stress should alleviate the insomnia. It’s also very important to pay more attention to what you eat. For example asparagus, avocados, berries, cashews and garlic are some of the 13 healthy foods that reduce stress.
Step 4: Exercise and meditate
Many modern companies nowadays are incorporating pool tables and exercising equipment into their offices, because they are aware of the importance of having a break that includes exercise. If you are not a sports type, you can take a walk or get involved in any other form of movement that brings you joy. When it comes to meditating, you can take a yoga class, or simply make time to do some breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths and slowly breathing out can help you get calmer if you are under pressure, and exercises can help you relieve the pain you feel in your neck and back. No matter how chaotic you working day is, you should be able to find some time to relax and be present in the moment through mindfulness meditation. According to the study, published in the journal Psychiatric Research, mindfulness meditation is proven to lower the stress hormone.
Step 5: Talk to yourself and work on yourself
Take a moment and write down everything that you like about your job. If you are experiencing a lot of stress at your work place, you may have forgotten why you chose to do what you do, and why you love your job. The causes of stress may be various, and it’s important to have a deep conversation with yourself to figure out what seems to be the problem. For example, if you feel under pressure because you can’t satisfy your daily goals, work on your time management and your organization skills.
No matter what people do for living, when it comes to work related stress, they all have one thing in common – wanting to get rid of it. Share your problems with someone who cares about you, be assertive in your work relationships, care about yourself by taking time to eat and sleep properly, to exercise and meditate, and don’t forget the value of what you do.
By Marcus Clarke
Marcus regularly blogs at PSYSCI, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.