According to the American Institute of Stress, work-related stress comes first when it comes to the list of stress causes in the U.S. This is often a starting point for many health problems, including hypertension, obesity, and increased risk of a heart attack. The prevailing cause of work-related stress is the workload, followed by people issues, juggling work and personal lives, and lack of job stability.
Unfortunately, stress at work is often unavoidable, regardless of whether you work in a gift shop or at the stock market. Even if you do a job you love, there will be situations when the workload or the circumstances (like the one with COVID-19) will cause burnout and anxiety. The main tool you need is knowledge of how to handle them.
This is the knowledge nearly half of workers say they need. If you are one of them, here are some self-care practices that can help.
Make sleep a priority
In one of the surveys presented by the American Institute of stress, more than 30% of employees claimed to have difficulty sleeping when they are experiencing stress at work. This results in an endless loop of not being able to sleep because you are stressed out, and being stressed out because you are not able to sleep.
Here are some things you can do to make sleep a priority when you can’t sleep:
- Try a relaxation strategy before bedtime. This can include deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.
- Avoid blue light exposure. Do not take any devices to bed with you.
- Have a calming herbal tea before going to bed.
- Soak in a hot bath and add some lavender oil as a bedtime ritual.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom not too cool, nor too hot.
- Eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
- Choose a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillow.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night because you are too stressed out, don’t lie in bed trying to focus on sleeping. Get up, meditate, do something boring. Don’t turn on the TV or other devices, as that will be too stimulating.
- Check with your doctor if insomnia persists.
Eat a balanced diet
Sleep quality and quantity are affected by what you eat. Also, your nutritional intake depends on your sleep quality, as sleep deprivation can cause you to eat unhealthy food and gain more weight.
Eating sweets could cost you a night of uninterrupted sleep, while a diet high in saturated fats can decrease the amount of sleep. On the other hand, a diet that emphasizes healthy meals that include fruits, vegetables, low-fat proteins, and whole grains will reward you with the best sleep you can get. Many people have found that supplementation such as CBD, melatonin, magnesium, and valerian also helps. Supplementation is the most effective when you understand the different dosage forms of the capsules and follow instructions on how and when to take it. Also, make sure that the supplements you take are FDA-approved, high-quality, and will not affect any other medications you may take.
By the time you start feeling thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, which can only increase the levels of stress and prevent you from performing tasks at work on time and effectively.
The optimal amount of water is eight glasses per day, but if you are physically active throughout the day, you should increase that number. If you get tired of drinking “boring old water,” try adding some cucumber or a few drops of lemon juice to it. Foods high in water, such as cucumber or watermelon, can be an additional source of water.
Be active, as much as you can
Squeezing a workout into a schedule that seems like it’s about to burst is challenging. However, physical activity carries various benefits, including decreased levels of stress and anxiety, increased production of endorphins, boosted energy, and improved sleep quality. The perks definitely outweigh the challenges.
You can try with short 15-minute morning exercises or stretches to kickstart your day right. After some time, once you’re in solid shape, you can prolong that time or maybe even sign up for the gym, a dancing course, or something else fun and active.
Commit to something meaningful
While trying to build a career and keep your personal life in order can already take up a lot of your time, this doesn’t mean you need to devote yourself entirely to these things. Human beings are not machines. We need to have different things fulfilling us in our lives, different motives pushing us forward. Doing something “just for yourself” – something that brings you joy – and committing to self-improvement does not mean wasting your time. On the contrary, it boosts serotonin and endorphins, reducing the stress hormones and easing the tension in your body.
Be social and altruistic
Enjoying other people’s company and giving a hand to fellow human are both important components of being mindful. Social activities, regardless of whether they include a family lunch, friendly chat, or joining a club, can promote feelings of safety, enjoyment, and belonging. Also, providing social support and aid to less fortunate people can ease your anxiety and activate neurotransmitters connected with positive emotions. Besides, altruistic acts can put things into perspective for you, making you see the positive sides of your life.
Deal with problems straight away
Many people tend to keep everything bottled up. Until they explode. There is no need to explain why this is a bad thing.
Poor communication in the workplace can affect your productivity and even your personal life. If you’re going through a stressful period and find it difficult to perform your tasks, it’s important to discuss this with your supervisor and your coworkers. Sit down with them and see what you can do. No one can benefit from you doing things halfway through. Maybe you can take a couple of days off or share some of the more challenging tasks with some of your colleagues. Spending some time working from home could also be helpful.
Get some alone time
Spending some time alone with your thoughts can help clear things up. This is especially useful if you have an important decision to make and you can’t focus. But even in regular circumstances, getting some “me time” can be refreshing. Take a hot bath, have a warm tea, watch your favorite TV show over a bowl of popcorn. Do whatever you feel like and treasure these moments.
Workplace stress is inevitable, but you can do your best to cope with the bumps on the road. Self-care is an important element of developing an efficient coping mechanism. Follow these tips to feel better and be better at what you do.