Stress. That horrible, stomach churning, heading spinning, gut clenching feeling. We’ve all been there and felt it, and sadly, the chances are sooner or later we will all feel it again. But what is stress? What causes it? And why do some people get it more than others?
Stress is a normal reaction and one that most people feel on some degree on a regular basis. It is the body’s natural flight or fight response to a challenging situation. It realises large quantities of hormones into your body (such as adrenaline and cortisol) that contribute to an increased heart rate, raised alertness and faster breathing. In order to make such changes within the body so quickly, you lose focus on areas less crucial to the situation, such as the digestive system.
There are many things that causes this anxious sensation, and it varies from person to person. The main summary for things that cause a person stress is anything that will make someone feel overwhelmed and like they have a lack of control. These different causes are known as stressors. Some common examples of stressors are work, relationships and moving to a new house.
Just as people find different things worrying, people are also affected by stress differently; some people might develop a headache whilst others might develop a stomach ache. Whatever your symptoms are, it’s useful to know some techniques to prevent a stress build up.
Obviously, the best solution would be to cut out all major stressors from your life, however this isn’t always possible. In addition to removing the stressors, there are some short and long-term practices you can do to reduce the pressure.
Firstly, there are some quick fix techniques to help limit the imminent effects of occupational stress. If you’re at work and you feel like stress is blocking your productivity, take and break and go on a walk. It might sound counterproductive to take a break, but it will allow you to clear your head and you’ll come back fresh headed and ready to work. Isabella Couwenberg from Xero Blog agrees that; “a walk will give you time to yourself, which can help you work through a problem in your head and reach a conclusion, something that isn’t as easy to achieve when sitting in front of a screen. In addition to this, physical activity causes the body to produce endorphins, also known as the feel-good hormone”.
If you don’t feel like walking, another quick fix involves popping your headphones on and relaxing to some music. Another solution, believe it or not, is eating chocolate and drinking wine. Though the wine might not be suitable for work, there is nothing to stop you having glass once you get home. All those things are great for quick fixes, but what about long term?
The main difference between the long term and short-term solutions is that in order to make lasting impressions you need to apply the changes into your day to day life. So, instead of just going for that one-off walk, why not make it a regular occurrence? And if walking isn’t your thing, why not join a sports team and try a new sport. Another great change is to make sure you have some down time. It sounds simple, and yet, so few people make time for it; when they get home from work they’re busy cooking dinner, doing jobs and looking after their kids. Take some quiet time for yourself, ideally just before you go to bed so that you can wind down and get a good night’s sleep.
Just say no. Research conducted by the University of California in San Francisco showed that people who found it harder to say no were more likely to feel stressed. Often people who can’t say no, take on more than they can handle and are left worn out and drained. Experts advise that; “in adult life, saying no keeps us strong. We are protecting our own boundaries and increasing our own strength each time we are clear and give out clear signals about our boundaries. It helps us take control of our time, space, activities and social life”. So don’t be afraid to say no once in a while, it’s ok to put yourself first sometimes.
Stress has developed a bad name for itself, but it’s not all bad. In fact, in the short term it can actually be beneficial. It’s a great motivator; if we didn’t feel the pressure to do well and succeed then we wouldn’t get any work done, or care about its quality. Plus, low levels stimulate the making of nerotrophins (chemicals within the brain) and strengthens the links between the neurones within the brain. So, don’t write off stress altogether, just make sure you’re aware when it gets too much or goes on for too long.
Pressure often comes hand in hand with the job, and a little bit of stress is expected (and as mentioned it can improve productivity and motivation). But be careful not to over stress your employees, long term strain or too much pressure will only decrease the productivity of your workers and harm their health and wellbeing. In reality, “in the UK, 70 million days are lost from work each year due to mental ill health (i.e. anxiety, depressions and stress-related conditions) making it the leading cause of sickness”. And that’s if you manage to retain them. Can you and your business afford this loss?
If you don’t want your employees to take those extra sick days, make sure your employees feel appreciated and motivated by using a range of incentives and rewards. With SVM Global’s Gift Card and eGift products and services you can have a happier and more relaxed workplace. Call 01709 303 102 or visit www.svmglobal.com to find out more.
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