How to Enjoy Stress-Free Days at Work
If you’re like millions of Americans, you spend your days at work filled with stress. From head to toe, you can feel the tension – and it’s wearing you thin. But have you ever tried to do anything about it?
The Problem of Stress
Stress is the body’s natural response to any sort of stimuli that makes you feel angry, nervous, scared, or frustrated. It’s a normal function that kicks in to give your body the resources it needs to respond to stressors in an efficient manner.
“In response to these daily stresses, your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles,” writes Susan M. Heathfield, an HR and management consultant. “This stress response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to any high-pressure situation.”
Though stress can have some positive short-term benefits – such as increased focus and productivity – excessive or prolonged stress produces many dangerous and costly side effects.
Physical side effects of stress include sleep loss, muscle aches, irritability, headaches, and high blood pressure. Mental side effects include lack of motivation, defensiveness, anxiety, an inability to concentrate, and depression.
If you want to perform at your best, you must learn how to reduce stress at work and spend more time operating from a place of balance and stability.
Reducing Work-Related Stress and Living Healthy
Being aware of your work-related stressors and their impact on your performance is the first step. The second step is to address these factors and reduce/eliminate them. Here are a few ideas:
- Refine Your Morning Routine
A focused morning routine that emphasizes mental stability will help you keep stress at bay. Two helpful options include meditation and journaling. If you incorporate one or both of these into your morning routine, you’ll see a marked improvement in your outlook. Do it for a period of several months and it’ll transform how you approach your career.
- Give VNS a Shot
The vagus nerve is one of the most important nerves in your entire body. It runs from the stem of your brain down to the colon, impacting nearly every vital organ and system along the way. This includes your emotional health and well-being. Engaging in something known as vagus nerve stimulation can produce a wealth of benefits.
“Vagus nerve stimulation can effectively reduce stress, and therefore lessen the likelihood of a high allostatic load–it helps balance the nervous system and promotes the relaxation response,” Neuvana explains. “These effects can help with anything from your mood and calmness to digestion and sleep.”
For best results, engage in some form of VNS on a daily basis. You can do it before work, at your desk, and/or when you get home from the office.
- Optimize Your Work Habits
How you start your day will have a major impact on your stress levels over the next eight to 10 hours. If you have a steady routine that puts you in the right frame of mind, you’ll benefit from a greater sense of emotional stability and confidence.
For best results, avoid conflict, gossip, and lots of unnecessary interactions with others during the early morning hours. The more you can block out distractions and negativity, the more likely you are to stay focused and stress-free.
- Step Away From Work
So much of the stress people feel in their careers is tied to a lack of balance. If you want to reduce stress and feel a sense of calm, you have to step away from work (completely) from time to time.
Take at least one day per week – ideally Saturday – and avoid all work-related tasks, emails, and communications. It’s also helpful if you’re able to “clock out” at the end of the workday and avoid checking work tasks in the evening hours. By creating a healthy cadence where you’re “on” and then “off,” you give your body a chance to rest from the rigors of work.
Become a Better Version of Yourself
You’re constantly evolving – as a person and as a professional. And if you want your life to have meaning and purpose, progress must become your prerogative.
You’ll find that the most successful people in your industry are constantly trying to become better versions of themselves. And if you want to keep up, you need to make this your priority as well.
Hopefully this article has given you a practical framework for addressing chronic stress. Leverage it in a way that makes sense for your overall health and well-being. You won’t be disappointed!