Stress has a way of working itself into countless situations, playing a significant role in our reactions, mental health, and general well-being. Work and home are often the largest causes of stress in our daily lives. How do you handle your stress and work to focus on tasks?
What Stress Does to Our Bodies
Having a comprehensive understanding of the effects of stress on our bodies can help to combat it and allow us to release stress and begin to re-engage. When stressed, the human body reacts with increased blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism, respiration, and blood flow to the muscles. These side effects of stress are intended to help the body react swiftly and constructively to high-pressure situations.
Common indicators of stress include:
- Sleep loss
- Low energy
- Backaches and/or headaches
- Feeling out of control
- Guilt associated with procrastination or not keeping commitments
- Difficulty concentrating
- Reduced productivity
- Increased anxiety
Effects of Stress in the Workplace
A small level of stress is normal and arguably can result in productivity. We have all heard the phrase “works well under pressure” and, in some cases, this is true. However, when stress builds up and starts to take over our minds and our bodies, productivity in the workplace is likely to plummet and can result in a lack of interest, poor performance, and even interpersonal conflict. Whether stress is related to a personal or professional event, finding ways to dilute the stress and release it will help you physically and mentally.
Our Go-To Stress Management Techniques
Crosworks’ Eden Sulzer, vice president of coaching, and Emily Smith, leadership and career strategist, shared some tips and tricks they personally use when the weight of stress becomes too heavy and they need to reset, refocus and redirect their concentration. While these tips work for Eden and Emily, it’s important to realize that different people need different things. No one size fits all.
5 Tips from Eden and Emily:
- For a quick result, a two-minute deep breathing exercise can really help. It is amazing what just two minutes of quiet and intentional deep breathing can do. I’ll sit in a chair with both feet planted on the ground, hands-on my knees to increase the feeling of being grounded, and breathe deeply. I draw the air down into my abdomen and slowly let it out, relaxing my shoulder, neck, and facial muscles in the process. Even when you are not feeling overwhelmed, you may be surprised at how much this exercise will release tension.
- I listen to Apple Music and routinely choose one of the playlists from their “Focus” category. I do this when I need to clear the mental clutter. I’ll listen to Nature Sounds or other meditation tracks from the “Deep Focus” subcategory when I need a break. There are other apps geared toward this, such as Calm. In other cases, I listen to something upbeat when I need to gain energy on a project.
- Another way I take breaks is by going on a walk. I live in Clintonville, close to the Walhalla ravine. I often see deer and it feels like an escape tucked away in the middle of the city. Surrounding myself with trees and fresh air soothes and reinvigorates me.
- Focusing on my diet is one of the best ways for me to manage stress. I recently added bento boxes to my daily diet toolkit. I fill the glass container bento boxes with fresh veggies, cheese, and fruit, so they are ready to go! This helps to minimize the need for fast food or eating less healthy options at home. I often grab one as I’m heading out the door and munch while I’m driving. It’s gotten to the point where now I really look forward to my lunches. I feel better about myself and save a little cash, too (bonus)!
- Take some time to get organized and plan ahead. For work, I do this by planning ahead for meetings, blocking time for specific tasks, and setting up reminders. For home, I plan out meals and set up carpool schedules. It feels calming to have a clean desk and a clear mind!
Understanding what YOU need (regardless of what works for others) is what’s most important. The science behind the Birkman Method Advanced Assessment© suggests that some people need downtime, while others need time with friends they trust. Some people need structure and to get organized, while some people are stressed by those activities. Finding what works for you is key to managing your stress level and empowering yourself to get back into productive headspace.
At Crosworks, we offer a career assessment program that first looks at you. Among other things, it identifies personality traits, including stressors, that help you to understand what may cause and prevent stress from playing a role in your life. Interested in learning more about our career assessment? Contact us and let’s chat.