In my other articles I talked about stress as a trigger of mental health problems and how to prevent mental health problems on an organisational level. In this article I want to show you what you can do to prevent and manage stress at work, and also how to unwind effectively after work.
All of us experience stress in our lives, most even on a daily basis. A lot of factors can trigger stress such as a high workload, an angry boss or spouse, or an uncooperative client. The list is almost endless. It’s important to notice that stress does not make sick in general. It always depends on how you handle it.
Research has actually shown that stress improves performance up to a point of optimum performance, but when that point is reached further stress exposure decreases performance. Interestingly competency is an important moderator in the stress-performance relationship. The application of more stress increases performance of people with high competency even further, but does only improve performance of people with low competency to a certain point before it starts to decline. This illustrates that stress does not always harm you or decrease your performance.
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. – Hans Selye
However, not all of us react the same way when exposed to stress. Some handle it better than others and severe stress over a long time period makes a lot of people sick. The following strategies may help some of you to prevent stress or handle pressure at work better:
- Make a To-Do-List
- Prioritise your tasks
- Set realistic personal goals
- Don’t take on to much at the time
Take a break
- Take a short break after you’ve finished a task. Get yourself a coffee or have a seat outside.
- Try to sit back and reflect what you’ve achieved after a long day at work, rather than worrying about what you haven’t achieved and about what challenges are coming up next.
- Find a hobby which is totally unrelated to work.
- Exercise outside
- Meet family and friends
Remember that we can influence the world around us, but we cannot control it
- As mentioned before, we all experience set-backs at work. It’s all about how you handle difficult situations. It is important to build a positive attitude towards challenges, but also to accept set-backs. Chin up!
Relaxation is probably the best answer to stress. When you tell people that you are stressed, they will tell you to relax. It’s not always that simple. We cannot just press a button to switch our mind off like we do it with computers. A lot of people have problems with the so-called unwinding after work. After work they still think about what happened at work and about what they did wrong. I want to show you some methods of relaxation which may help you to unwind after work:
- Sleep: Enough sleep may be the most important factor of relaxation. We set bedtimes for our kids, but we don’t follow a routine ourselves. Try to develop a sleeping routine: Go to bed at 10PM and get up at 6AM.
- Get physically active: Go for a run, play football or rugby with your friends. Outdoor exercising gets your mind of work and stress in general. Positive side-effect: Outdoor exercising also enhances your working memory.
- Be in nature: Go to the park with your kids.
- Meet people: Have a Braai with family and friends.
- Eat healthy: Eating healthy helps to keep your body fit and helps to prevent physical health problems.
- Relaxation exercises: There are plenty of exercises to relax. The easiest way is to find a quiet spot in nature and to lie down. Close your eyes and let your mind drift away. There are also easy options which you can integrate into your daily routine: Get up from your office chair every now and then and do a simple stretching exercise.
- Treat yourself: Take a bath and read your favourite book or go out with friends. The most important thing is that you enjoy the activity you practice.
Most points probably sound quite simple, but sometimes little things can change a lot in life.