Anyone else have an emergency snack draw at their desk to cover all the stress-eating needs that arise? Asking for a friend. But apparently mainlining chocolate and nail biting might not actually be the best way to deal with workplace stress. Who knew?
Because we all know that stress helps no one in the end, we spoke to Niels Eék, one of the brains behind Remente, the latest metal health app in town, to get some strategies in place for when stress comes around. Here’s his best advice.
Identify the source
While it is easy to identify what is causing you stress after a major life event, like moving home, it can be more challenging in your everyday work routine. To figure out what exactly is increasing your stress levels, assess your working habits and emotions. Do you think of stress as an integral part of work, do you blame it on external factors, do you feel overwhelmed with numerous tasks? Once you identify the source, the stress will become significantly easier to manage.
Part of the reason behind the feelings of stress is a lack of control. Once you identify the source of your stress, you need to decide if it is in your power to change it. If it is inability to stick to deadlines, distractions should be minimised as that is something you can control.
Exercise can't make the source of your stress disappear, but it can make the feeling much more manageable. Exercising, whether intensively after work, or simply taking a stroll in a nearby park at lunch, will help control the ‘fight or flight’ hormones that get triggered by stress. Taking a brisk walk will help clear your thoughts and give you perspective, enabling you to deal with any issues in a calmer manner.
Take some me time
It can be difficult to find the time to do the activities you enjoy. This is especially true for the UK, with the longest working hours in Europe, which means that often activities that help us relax and unwind do not get enough time dedicated to them. Set aside a couple of evenings a week to do something you truly enjoy outside of work, that will drastically decrease your stress levels.
With hundreds of tried and tested relaxation techniques available, there are guaranteed to be a few that will work well for you, regardless of your location or the reason behind the stress. It definitely takes time to find a technique that works for you, but you can experiment with techniques like meditation or breathing exercises or anything else that you like the sound of.
Minimise bad habits
Turning to drinking or smoking and other unhealthy patterns, in order to alleviate your feelings of stress is called avoidance behaviour. It doesn’t help you address or deal with what is causing the stress, instead creating a temporary escape and additional reasons for stress as a result. Instead, do something else you enjoy and return to your problems when you feel calmer.
Having colleagues and friends that you can speak to can help you deal with stress. Discussing an issue with someone else will help you see the problems facing you in a different light and perhaps lead you to a solution. Even if you don’t find an answer, socialising will take your mind off the stress and help you relax.
Set a goal
If you know that there is a particular area of your work life that is causing you stress, setting yourself a new, manageable goal will help you deal with stress in a constructive way. Alternatively, even if the stress is outside of your control, setting yourself a goal of learning something new will help you increase your confidence, which will help you manage stresses in the future
Often, stress can be caused by lack of sleep and tiredness, all of which can come from doing too much and trying to please too many people at once. Learning to say no and acknowledging your own workload, as well as managing your time is an important skill, one which will help you manage your work better and build your confidence.
While some stressors might demand your immediate attention, others can be postponed to a later date, or simply to a more appropriate time. If the stressor isn’t an emergency, make a note to think about it later and dedicate a specific time to it. This way, the stress won’t control your life and you will get some perspective before tackling the issue.
Niels Eék, co-founder at personal development app Remente, comments on ways to handle stress at work.