Stress Management Tips
Stress: The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century
Stress is a common thread that weaves its way through the lives of most people. It can leave behind lasting emotional and physical effects. Stress can permeate all areas and facets of life including home, at work and socially in relationships. Even turning on the evening news and catching the latest headline can cause stress and anxiety. The fast pace and high expectations of today's society even make holidays, family gatherings and otherwise typically joyous occasions, feel stressful and overwhelming.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress is "the health epidemic of the 21st century". Four major stress inducing topics including money, work, health problems and increasingly negative headlines concerning world events in the news and media.
Physical and Emotional Side Effects of Stress
Not all stress is bad. Healthy stress can help in facing challenges, staying focused and providing energy to tackle important projects. Healthy stress can help keep you alert at work to prevent accidents or costly mistakes. However, when stress becomes excessive, it can weak havoc on physical and emotional well being.
Some physical symptoms of excessive stress include:
- Insomnia - inability to fall asleep or sleep well has a multi-faceted effect. Sleep issues affect the ability to perform the next day causing further stress levels and overall fatigue.
- Stomach problems, nausea and lack of appetite.
- Muscle tension in the neck and lower back. Teeth grinding.
- Headaches, including debilitating migraine headaches.
- High blood pressure or a racing heartbeat.
Some emotional symptoms of excessive stress include:
- Feelings of anger, depression, irritability, helplessness and anxiousness.
- Short-tempered behavior.
- Lack of confidence in ability and talents. Declining mental focus, which can lead to poor safety compliance and increased risk of injury on the job.
- Negative outlook for the future.
If stress is continuous and becomes chronic, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, workplace injury, diabetes, obesity and impaired immune function.
10 Common Stressors
- Lack of money and financial problems
- Death of a loved one
- Divorce or breakup with significant other or loss of a close friendship
- Major illness, injury or poor health condition
- Job loss or insecurity
- Work-related stress from demanding jobs and excessive overtime
- The "always on" email and social media culture
- Childhood trauma
- Natural disasters such as tornadoes, fires, hurricanes and earthquakes
7 Tips to Successfully Manage Stress
Avoiding confrontation or denying stress only leads to more stress. In a work environment, it's easy to see when someone is not wearing the appropriate hand protection, safety glasses, hard hats or hi-vis clothing. Non-compliance with these items can be quickly identified and corrected. Stress is intangible however, and can be difficult to identify. Below are seven tips for successful management of stress at work and at home:
- Have open and honest discussions about your stress with your boss and your family. During these conversations, share possible solutions that might help alleviate the stress. This could include an alternate work schedule, work from home or hybrid work week or job sharing.
- Let go of the things that you don't have control over. Stop dwelling on situations that you cannot change. This is easier said than done and takes practice and intentionality, but you can do it!
- Relax, meditate or listen to soothing music for at least 20 minutes per day. Relaxation practices such as deep breathing, prayer, yoga, bubble baths and meditation dramatically decrease stress levels, which calm the body and mind.
- Exercise on a regular basis, eat healthy foods most of the time and get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
- Set aside leisure time to do something you truly enjoy every day. Examples include walking your pet, reading a good book, going to the movies or just choosing activities that make you laugh and smile.
- Stop demanding perfectionism from yourself and others. Perfectionism is a self-defeating, self-sabotaging behavior that sets people up for failure.
- Practice gratitude everyday. Giving thanks goes a long way in decreasing stress and improving life in general.
Work-life balance is needed more today than ever. For the benefit of both health and business productivity, businesses need to actively support employees in their effort to reduce stress and find a healthy balance in their lives. In addition to finding the right work-life balance, another way to help reduce stress in the workplace is to outfit employees with proper safety gear. Providing workers with quality personal protective equipment (PPE) helps meet OSHA requirements and ANSI standards and relieves stress because it sends a positive message to employees and customers that the company cares about worker protection, health and well-being.
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