Unhealthy Vs. Healthy Coping Mechanisms
The Effects of Day to Day Stress
Work and stress tend to go hand-in-hand, couple that with personal life struggles and we’ve created the ultimate stress cocktail – not the kind you’re looking for at a cinq à sept. The upcoming deadlines, impossible workloads and long hours play a significant role in that feeling of loss of control. But, let’s face it, everyone feels stress at some point in their lives. Then again, many people are faced with chronic, painful stress and have no idea how to help themselves. Thankfully, with the right techniques, you can learn how to manage chronic day-to-day stress and finally relax a little knowing you’ve got it under control.
Stress & Health
Employees who suffer from untreated chronic stress risk their personal health. Untreated chronic stress increases the risks of serious health problems such as raise blood pressure, which in long term, can trigger strokes and heart attacks. Before we begin to point fingers at employers for your stress-related health problems, perhaps take a look at your habits. Of course, the work environment, deadlines, and workload play a role in stress, but so do yourpersonal choices. Take a moment to reflect, when you’re stressed, what are you most likely to do? Smoke? Drink? Gamble? Self-medicate? Maybe even get a McDonald’s trio? This is the problem with today’s society. We are constantly looking for instant gratification. Unfortunately, we don’t think ahead about how these actions will affect us in the long run, we focus so intensely on how we feel at that particular moment. The ugly truth is, all of these bad habits are a one-way ticket to the emergency room for digestive issues, recurring viruses or infections, weight-related issues or injuries as well as a risk for coronary heart disease. It’s no wonder people have always said “stress kills,” but what they really mean is we’re killing ourselves when the true solution is so simple. Be healthy.
Aside from the physical harm our coping mechanisms cause, they also affect our work performance.
Stress & Work
According to the survey on stress symptoms by the American Psychological Association, 42% of participants reported feeling irritable, 39% anxious, 37% depressed and 35% said they lacked motivation. When employees feel irritable, anxious, depressed or demotivated the work they do, will be directly affected, leading the employees to feel even more inadequate. When employees feel overwhelmed with stress, they will continue to miss more days of work, which will only worsen their anxiety because of the increased workload. It turns into a vicious cycle. Everyone needs to keep in mind employers are just as stressed, if not more, than employees and everyone is responsible for themselves. It seems as though the newest working generation had these dreams of what the workplace was going to be like, how happy their work would make them, only for reality to hit them hard. There’s one key phrase everyone should remember: happiness is a state of mind, not a destination.
It All Starts With Y O U.
You are the master of your universe, no matter how out of control you may feel, it’s up to you to make the healthy choices in order to feel and do your best. It’s easy to blame the job or the boss, but that’s only one or two factors out of a million that can be contributing to your stress. No one is forcing you to smoke or eat greasy takeout food, you choose that yourself. The same applies to an impossible workload, it’s alright to say no when you’re already overwhelmed, within reason, of course. Employers would rather your honesty over the risk of losing you and your work ethic.
Manage Your Own Stress
Here’s a list of thing to-do or avoid in order to reduce your stress level and create your own stress-free, happy state of mind.
Prepare your lunches the day before to avoid purchasing fast food. Also, avoid processed foods for they contain harmful chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones that will affect your body. Focus on real foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean proteins, and fibers. This will help reduce stress in the long term and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.Reduce Caffeine and Sugar.
Foods and beverages that give you that temporary “high” are bound to lead you to a crash. Avoiding caffeine or other snacks and beverages that boost energy or have significant amounts of sugar can improve our sleep as well as reduce your risk for diabetes.
Get Enough Sleep.
There’s a reason why our parents encouraged a specific bedtime when we were younger, they were helping us develop healthy routines. Set an alarm for an appropriate bedtime and you’ll see a huge difference in your overall mood. A little tip: If you struggle to fall asleep, try drinking tisanes that are naturally caffeine free, they will help you relax enough to drift asleep.
Using drugs, alcohol, and smoking is like sweeping the dust under the rug. You may be temporarily relieved from your stress, but just like that pile of dust under the rug, your issues will remain present.
Don’t Over Commit.
If you’re already swamped with work, politely decline the task with a reasonable explanation. You’ll be more respected for your honesty than trying to do too much and not being able to complete the task properly while putting your health at risk.
Use an agenda or a spreadsheet to organize your tasks based on priority, it’ll give you the sensation that you have everything under control because, in a way, you do!
Practice Yoga and Meditation.
Connect to your spiritual side while stretching out all that tension and clear your mind of everything negative that may be holding you back.
Begin or end your day with a job, bike ride or even a nice, long walk. These are all great ways to manage stress, encourage healthy choices throughout the day, manage weight-related issues, reduce the frequency of illnesses and reduce the risk of heart disease as well as many other diseases.
The key to managing stress is to take things day by day. Start by implementing one of these strategies one at a time every few weeks and you’ll notice a much less stressed and much more productive version of yourself!