For many of us, stress has almost become a familiar part of our day-to-day lives. So much so, that a 2018 online study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation found that in the previous year a massive 74% of people had felt so stressed that they were overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Another 2018 study from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) revealed;
“Work-related stress and anxiety is the leading cause for ill health and sickness absence in Britain.”1
So, you’re definitely not alone on days where you feel like it’s all getting a bit too much to handle — and there are plenty of simple steps you can take to try and ease the load.
1. Stay active
It’s a well-known fact that exercise can be a great remedy for a bad mood as it helps you to let off steam and gives you a welcome boost of endorphins. Many studies have shown that high-intensity aerobic exercise especially has positive effects on mental health and well-being.2
So, as tempting as it may be to come home and curl up in bed after a particularly trying day at work, you’ll probably feel a lot better if you get yourself to the gym and smash out a HIIT session.
2. Have a digital detox
How often do you find yourself checking your work emails out of work hours? Or, worse still, how many times do you obsessively refresh Instagram just to get flooded with a load of holiday destinations you’d rather be, along with the unattainable sculpted ‘beach bodies’ to match?
When you’re already feeling low, social media can be a bad place to turn to. Even though you probably know it’s not an accurate representation of real life, it’s hard not to compare your immediate situation to the heavily-filtered smiling faces you see on every feed and channel. Give yourself a break and switch off the screen.
3. Go for a walk outside
This is basically a combination of the first two points but can be an especially useful technique for coping with your emotions while at work. If you feel like you could reach a breaking point after receiving a particularly aggressive passive-aggressive email, or you’ve had to sit through another pointless meeting, just taking yourself completely out of that environment can do wonders for your headspace.
Give yourself the time and space to cool down a bit, focus on your breathing, and you’ll probably come back to your desk with the realisation that there are much bigger fish to fry in the scheme of things. No need to bite Becky from finance’s head off… today, anyway.
4. Talk to friends and family
Don’t turn yourself into a human pressure cooker by keeping everything bottled up. You’d always want your friends and family to confide in you if they had something on their mind, so make sure you return the favour by doing the same to them. The people closest to you are there to share and support you through the good times and the bad times — but you have to open up in the first place for that to be possible.
If you feel like your friends and family are too close or invested in the problem — or maybe they are the problem — then there’s nothing wrong with turning to someone a bit more impartial. There’s probably someone in your HR department that’s trained to listen to your problems, no matter how trivial you may think they are, or you could find a therapist/counsellor in your area.
A problem shared is a problem halved, remember. You should never have to go through anything alone.
5. Have a daily to-do-list
Ever had so much on your plate that you don’t know even know where to begin… so you just sit and do absolutely nothing productive instead? Possibly one of the least effective ways of dealing with your problems, but something we’ve probably all done at some point.
Instead of letting yourself get completely overwhelmed and obsessed by just how much you “need” to do right now, take a moment to make a list. Suddenly all those tasks seem a lot more manageable when they’re broken down, right?
A useful tool to make sure that you’re not missing the vital stuff is to prioritise your tasks. Some people prefer to do that in order of deadlines, i.e. starting with the thing that’s due first. Others may find grouping tasks in order of importance more helpful, i.e. things I have to get done today, things that I should get done today, and things that I want to get done soon.
Find what works for you and get cracking. Enjoy that undeniable satisfaction that comes with crossing things off a list.
Still feeling stressed after giving all of these a go? It might be time to seek professional help or talk to your doctor.
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- Health and Safety Executive. (2017). Work-related stress, depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain 2017.
- Norris, R., Carroll, D., & Cochrane, R. (1992). The effects of physical activity and exercise training on psychological stress and well-being in an adolescent population. Journal of psychosomatic research, 36(1), 55-65.