Does your heart beat faster at work and you have trouble sleeping at night? Those are just a couple of symptoms for work-induced stress. Other indications of being stressed at work include headaches, tense muscles, upset stomach, feeling fatigued all the time, and even experiencing chest pains.
Workers often take those symptoms for granted. But these danger signs can be more serious than you think. Deadly serious in fact.
What worries you the most about work and life?
Harvard and Stanford researchers last October found that workplace tension could take from six months to three years off your life. The study cut across many kinds of jobs and income levels. A couple of big worries held by all of the groups surveyed were the fear of losing a job and health insurance.
“If we’re living in a constant state off fight or flight,” says wellness coach Emily Soares Proctor in a printed report, “the stress response happens over and over again, chronically upsetting your entire system and creating the environment for exhaustion and disease.”
While you might question one of the survey’s “findings”-that workplace stress can take months or years off your life-both Proctor and the Harvard survey agree on one thing: you must take action by taking steps to reduce workplace stress.
It’s normal to experience some stress at work. But too much of it lowers your productivity along with your physical and emotional well-being. As mentioned previously, you need to deal with it. “Managing stress is the key to reversing these outcomes,” concludes the Harvard/Stanford survey.
Can workplace stress be managed and ameliorated?
Of course it can. But you need to take the responsibility by blowing off steam in healthy ways by using stress-busters (SBs) that work for you.
Before listing some of the SBs, let’s take a look at self-induced stress from drinking, drugging, or smoking. Those symptoms are the easiest to cure. That’s because all you need to do is stop doing what’s causing the symptoms. If you’re having trouble quitting something, join a self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
Six powerful stress-busters that allow you to blow off steam in healthy ways
SB #1: EXERCISE. It’s a powerful stress reliever and makes you feel better. Find an exercise-like walking, swimming, cycling, or working out at a gym-that acts as a stress buster that works for you. You can even do some simple stretching exercises at your desk. It’s well known that exercise helps you deal with stress.
SB #2. Listen to music-the kind that soothes you.
SB #3. TAKE A NAP or meditate. I’ve discovered twenty minutes of meditating during the day provides more energy and makes me feel more refreshed than napping.
SB #4. READ A BOOK that interests you. When I was a college freshman, I found a paperback novel lying around the dorm and found that reading a few pages between periods of study and at odd moments during the day relaxed my mind. I still read for relaxation.
SB#5. TALK TO SOMEONE you trust or see a mental health practitioner.
SB#6. BE WILLING TO QUIT YOUR JOB and start searching for another. Even if you don’t quit, a willingness to do so will ease your tension. Why? Because you committed to doing something about it and believe that relief is in sight.
The reversal of stress symptoms
I’ve already mentioned that you-not your boss-are responsible for reversing your symptoms. Your employer doesn’t give a hang about your job satisfaction or the trajectory of your career. Whether your workplace stress is created by conditions surrounding your work-like a crazy boss-or self induced by how you think, live, and manage your work environment, you are responsible for fixing it.
Don’t give up this responsibility.