Modern hectic lifestyles are anything but relaxing. No wonder why work stress is a major cause of sick leave in the European Union. Every year, it affects around forty million workers. This has a huge economic impact: twenty billion Euro per year in healthcare expenditure, plus all the additional loss that comes with the decrease in workers’ productivity. Being overwhelmed at work can also lead to employee engagement disappearing. So, what are you waiting for to take action and implement serious and effective measures in your company?
Personal life stress is one’s own business, but work stress is everybody’s business. So we should stop stigmatising it and start managing it just the way we would do with any other health and safety risk issue at work.
Change your perspective
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal explains in this Ted Talk that when you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience. If you believe that something is negative and harmful, it will become your worst enemy; but if you turn it into an ally, it can play a very positive role in your work performance.
Practical tips to survive when being overwhelmed at work
If you don’t want work stress to burn you out, try these tips:
- Listen to music. According to science, music ‘has great powers’ so why don’t you give it a try at work? Start by working with lively and energetic music, but also disconnect for some minutes with more ‘Zen-like’ and relaxing sounds.
- Release muscle tension with some simple exercises at work. After every hour, do some neck and shoulder stretches to relax your muscles. Besides, take advantage of your walks to the toilet or the coffee machine to stretch your arms and legs too.
- Relax your eyes regularly. To prevent your eyes from getting used to just focusing at a close distance, you should look as far away as possible from your computer for 15-20 seconds. Do this several times every day. It will also help your eyes to relax if you close them for a while and rub your temple.
- Take a break to relax your mind and oxygenate your brain. Resting for ten minutes after every working hour helps us maximise our performance and productivity.
- Do exercise. Whether it is a relaxing activity such as yoga or an adrenalin rush like in any extreme sport, just do it!
Our bodies are designed for movement, so there’s nothing better than sport and physical exercise to make up for all those hours we spend sitting. Moreover, a sport will be your best ally against work stress. Give it a go and soon you won’t have any doubt about it.