Stress is your body's natural 'fight or flight' response to danger. Whether physical or mental, it is hard wired to help protect you against threats. This can be recognized as muscle tension for bodily protection against injury and pain, or balmy palms meant to cool your temps when they’re reaching a high. Though this may feel only slight uncomfortable, stress, particularly when chronic, is more dangerous than you think. Today's workforce is a buzzy one. With over 1 in 4 Canadians reporting high stress levels, with work being the #1 culprit. This way of being has reached pandemic heights. Here’s how to deal with it head on.
Identify your stressors
If you're struggling with getting to the source, try keeping a weekly journal. Jot down as many details as you can about your thoughts and feelings, as well as the people and places. How did you react? Did you raise your voice? Reach for the snack cupboard? Plug in your head set? Revisiting this may help you establish patterns of behaviour, and thus break cycles.
Develop healthy responses
When you feel stress brewing, try swapping out a negative response like binge eating with something like exercise. If you're feeling overwhelmed, 'zoom out' of the situation and take a deep breath. This will allow you to act from a sensible position rather than react out of emotion. Also make sure you make time for things you actually enjoy.
Boundaries are important because they give you guardrails for where you cannot go. This is especially true in the workplace. In this age of digital access, many of us feel pressured to be available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. To be sure you don't burn out, establish some boundaries for yourself. Whether that means no email after you've gone home for the evening, or keeping your phone off the table during dinner, be sure to draw the line in the sand between life at work and life at home.
Stop being so hard on yourself
Sometimes the stress we feel comes from within. It's one thing for your organization to have expectations of you, it's another for you to have unrealistic expectations of yourself. While setting boundaries with others is important, setting them for yourself is equally so. The truth is, sometimes stress is self-imposed. Sometimes, our perception of how others see us take the helm and we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves that no one expects us to fulfill but that little voice in the back of our minds. Learn to put the focus you've put on others on your work and the results will astonish you.
Schedule your day for success
We often measure our success on our levels of productivity. Deadlines often compete, and priorities frequently shift, so to be sure you to find yourself on the wayside, itemize your list of priorities in order of importance and urgency. Narrow your to-do down based on immediacy and impact.
Some of us ere further on the side of 'panicky'. Feeling a little short of breath before a big meeting? Engaging acupressure may help. Place your thumb next to your middle finger to help regulate your blood pressure and calm your nerves.
American Psychology Association. (2018, October) Coping With Stress at Work.
Statistics Canada. (2015, November 27) What's stressing the stressed?
Williams, C. (n.d.). CANADIAN SOCIAL TRENDS: Stress at Work(6th ed., Vol. 4, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75-001-XIE.) (Statistics Canada).