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Four ways to combat work stress that aren’t counterproductive

Ways to reduce stress

It's Sunday evening. The pangs of anxiety kicked in shortly after your Sunday roast, your mouth is starting to go dry, and you can feel the beginnings of that headache that normally keeps you awake until Monday morning. If these symptoms sound familiar, you may be suffering from work-related stress.

Whilst it's perfectly normal to experience stress related to your work, if it's not managed properly, or you aren't aware what the worsening symptoms mean, it can develop into a more serious problem. Last year the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that close to half a million people in the UK had complained that stress related to their work was making them ill. That makes stress one of the biggest work related illnesses. Getting to grips with your stress can be a challenge. Quick-fixes like alcohol and comfort eating are often chosen to counteract stress as they appear to be the easiest options. Unfortunately, these are not only detrimental to your physical health, but will actually work against treating stress, and can make it worse in the long term.

Here are four ways to deal with your work related stress that aren't counterproductive:

1) Try exercise. Humans weren't designed to spend their lives sat at desks in dark offices. Getting outside and exercising isn't just a way of keeping fit and slim, it triggers the release of endorphins and these can help combat work related stress. What's more, giving your muscles a good workout is a great way of relieving the tension built up in them, and this can help you feel more at ease and more able to relax. Of course not everyone is a born Paula Radcliffe. It can be difficult to work exercise into an already crammed schedule, and it can be even harder to motivate yourself to do anything remotely strenuous after a tough day. Try picking an activity that you already love doing, or finding a friend or club that will help motivate you. You'll soon be reaping the rewards of those natural endorphins, and pining at the end of a hard day to get out and blow off some steam!

2) Manage your time better. If you're working into the night, skipping lunch, or working at weekends, you could be a victim of your own bad time management. When your work life is eating into your personal life, you're missing out on the all important you-time. The less time you have to relax and recover from work, the more tired you're going to be when you're working, and that means you're going to be less effective at doing work. Manage how you spend your time and prioritise what you spend your time doing. Spend less time working and concentrate on working more effectively. Try making a to-do list at the start of every day, grading tasks from urgent to unnecessary, and set yourself achievable time-based goals. If you’re still feeling overworked, it could mean it’s time to be more assertive and to start saying no to your boss.

3) Relax properly. Nothing remedies stress like relaxation, but are you relaxing properly? Taking a long warm bath or reading are great ways to relax, but staring at a phone, laptop or TV screen are not. Relaxing properly means winding down. Using tech overstimulates your brain, and that can actually make it harder to relax and even affect how easily you get to sleep. If you struggle to find time to relax, why not include yoga as part of your exercise schedule? Yoga focuses on strength and flexibility - so you benefit from those exercise-induced endorphins - and also incorporates breathing exercises and elements of mindfulness, which can treat high-blood pressure, anxiety and, most importantly, stress.

4) Why not try Hypnotherapy? Talking to a hypnotherapist can help to combat work related stress in a number of ways. As well as identifying and dealing with the root causes of your work stress, it can also help you to manage your bad habits and behaviours that are working against treating stress, like overeating, smoking and drinking. If you're interested in using hypnotherapy to treat work related stress, find which one of my accredited hypnotherapy practitioners is nearest to you here.

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