How to manage your stress levels in and out of the workplace

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Every person has experienced stress at some point in their lives. In fact, there are many definitions of ‘stress’, with no one definition being universally accepted. However, most include instances of mental, emotional or physical strain or tension.
Stress occurs where we are faced with a problem that affects us deeply and leaves an individual with the perception that their mental fortitude is not enough to cope with the situation and deal with it effectively. Coping with stressful situations is usually done through a processing of thoughts that help to manage internal and external sources of stress.
However, if a person does not engage in activities that promote a healthy thought process, which is needed in order to cope with mentally taxing situations, stress can therefore become a debilitating factor.
Stress can come from many sources; home lives, the workplace, relationships and a plethora of other situations. While a few of these sources may be more serious than others, everyday occurrences can prove to be just as taxing.
Dealing with bills, waiting in traffic jams, arguments with a boyfriend or spouse about little things, or even lack of communication with a loved one can all add up to stress you out.
These smaller things are inevitable, after all, they cannot be avoided. However, it is important that larger stress causing factors are not allowed to be combined with these smaller issues, as they can pose a serious threat to an individual’s mental and physical health.
A common example of this combination occurs when we bring home our stress from work and allow it to affect our personal lives.
Stress, unfortunately, does not stay in the sphere from which it originates. Much like the files and documents we bring home from the office, workplace stress can sneak its way into your home life and wreak havoc.

Stress in the workplace can come from a number of factors:
-working long hours
-doing a job that you do not necessarily enjoy
-dealing with discrimination or bullying in the workplace
-low wages
-excessive workloads

Workplace stress, whilst it can affect your performance at work and your attitude towards your employer, can lead you into a dangerous habit of bringing your stress home with you. Adequate coping mechanisms are necessary to combat workplace stress, otherwise it can end up taking a larger toll on your life, affecting relationships and possibly leading to long-term issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Therefore, it is important that we learn to establish boundaries between our work lives and our home lives. Signing out from your email account or shutting off your laptop or phone when you’re not on the job can help you from being directly faced with work related issues.
Boundaries are necessary to ensure that we do not end up living a life that is work centric, taking on all the stressors at the workplace and bringing them into a place that is supposed to provide comfort and relaxation. This leaves you with no safe place or stress free zones in which to recharge for the new week.

DEALING WITH STRESS
Dealing with stress is not always straightforward. There is no hard and fast remedy to get you through a stressful situation, as every individual is different and their thought processes vary. There are many ways to deal with a stressful situation, unfortunately however, many use detrimental coping mechanisms in order to get through.
These may include, overeating, consumption of alcohol or the use of narcotics. These methods only exacerbate the problem and come prepackaged with their own set of side effects and negative impacts, which only add stress to an already burdened psyche.
Many instances of obesity as well as drug or alcohol abuse stem from dealing with stressful situations incorrectly. Instead of using these dangerous mechanisms or even attempting to ignore the problem completely, here are a few tips to help cultivate and maintain a healthy coping process:

-Identifying Stressors
When dealing with stress in the workplace, the first step you must take is to identify exactly what causes you to feel mentally overwhelmed. Identifying these causes or ‘stressors’, as they are commonly called, helps you to develop habits that directly counteract the occurrences. For example, if you realize that working for an extended period of time can cause mental frustration, note this. After you have recognized this, instead of allowing the stressful situation to escalate to the point of excess frustration, find a temporary relief. Taking a short stroll, or taking a break to have a snack can help immensely and allow you to think through a problem. Identifying stressors also help you to avoid certain situations where you can become stressed, thus making this one of the most important steps in establishing an effective coping mechanism.

-Establishing a Routine
Having a predictable routine can greatly contribute to a healthy coping mechanism and allow you to manage stress. Having a routine for a simple thing, such as exercise, can allow some structure into an unpredictable lifestyle. Routine times for meals and bedtimes are also important, as these encourage good nutrition as well as healthy sleeping habits.

-Taking care of Yourself
As aforementioned, a healthy diet and stable sleeping habits are useful to ensure an effective coping mechanism. However, taking time to do relaxing activities, either by yourself or with loved ones, can allow you to de-stress. Spending time with loved ones also prevents you from becoming isolated with any issues and provides a safe space to recharge and renew your thought process. While certain situations do not always allow for regular breaks for relaxation, simple breathing exercises can help get you through a tough day.

-Self- Reflection and Encouragement
Stress can bring out the worst in us, and not only impact negatively on our external relationships, but also with the way we see ourselves. Having negative thoughts about your inability to deal with a situation can lead to even more stress and put a wedge in your coping process. Being patient with a situation is necessary to avoid mental frustration, but you must also learn to be patient with yourself in order to avoid feelings of inadequacy and crippling self -doubt.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and is usually experienced by everyone at least once. Despite its inevitability, there are ways in which an individual can handle stress healthily. Once one learns to establish boundaries between areas of life that cause stress and compartmentalize it, they can deal with specific causes of stress and prevent a buildup and potential breakdown.
Learning to deal with stress is a necessary part of life as there will always be situations that cause us significant emotional and mental distress. It’s important to remember that we all experience this, despite our circumstances in life, and it is nothing we should go to great lengths to conceal. Living a stress-free life may be more of an idea than a reality, but once we can develop a good coping mechanism, it is very possible to lead an easier life with a less-burdened psyche.

 

(Article taken from the Guyana Inc. Magazine Issue 27)

Article Categories:
Columns · Issue 27 · Psychological · Publication

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