Stress: The silent assassin

by REP07 Oct 2015
Stress is like a silent assassin. You don’t see it coming or know that it is there, but it has you in a headlock, and before you know it, you’re on the mat. It has been stated that stress is the cause of 90% of illnesses.
Your body tells you how well you are doing. You just need to be more aware of the signals it is sending you. They start off as minor warning signs, but if left unchecked or ignored, they progress to more serious health issues and ultimately life-threatening problems.
You can manage your stress to feel and perform at your best with simple strategies performed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Daily strategies to minimize stress simply mean following the basics of health:
• Drink plenty of water and limit coffee to two cups
• Be more conscious of better breathing and breathe deeply into the abdomen, not just the upper chest
• Eat healthy, fresh food instead of processed, quick, convenience food
• Keep active – walk more and move more throughout the day
Invest a small amount of time in nurturing yourself and prioritizing some downtime:
• Exercise three to four times per week for 30-40 minutes
• Make a commitment to turn off your phone and emails at a set time each day
• Have one complete work-free day, e.g. Saturday
• Make time for friends and family, and make it equally as important as a work meeting
• Have a laugh – watch a funny movie or TV show
• Get outside into a local park for sunshine and fresh air
Monthly and beyond
• Once a month, get a massage/bodywork treatment
• Pursue a pastime that is purely for fun as opposed to achieving or attaining something
• Once a month, get out into nature for a day to walk on the beach or hike in the woods
• Every 90 days, get out of town for a long weekend
• Once a year, have a holiday for two weeks or more
Schedule your ‘me plan’
The key to managing yourself and handling stress is to prioritize ‘you’ by developing a ‘me plan’. This is a plan that includes a selection of the strategies mentioned above. Don’t just leave it to chance; book the strategies into your schedule like any other important appointment.
If something comes up, reschedule it. Isn’t that a worthy investment for a significant return?
Sleep your way to success
• Develop a sleep routine. Go to bed at a similar time each night
• One hour before bed, avoid work, computers and TV
• Dim lights and/or use candles
• Write down thoughts so they aren’t in your head
• Sleep in a completely dark room with a window slightly open for fresh air
• Do some deep, meditative breathing
• If you cannot sleep, get up, read a book for 15 minutes in a different room and return to bed.
Proactive steps
A new study reveals that stressed and micromanaged employees are more likely to call in sick. The study, which examined more than 7,000 middle-aged healthy people in Norway, found that those who work in stressful environments and are micromanaged by their bosses are more likely to take extended sick leave – defined as more than 16 days off in a row. Additionally, they are also more likely to experience chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath.
According to the research results, one in every 15 cases of extended sick leave could be avoided if employers took steps to make their workplaces less stressful. Examples include:
Loosen the reins: Introduce small measures that give employees some control over their work, such as when they can take their breaks, or even just empower them so they can speak up about great ideas. A fresh perspective, or even taking suggestions from frontline employees, can result in more efficient and effective processes – resulting in less stress for everyone.
Provide some downtime: Setting a time for employees to put down work and interact with each other not only gives them an opportunity to de-stress, it helps develop workplace relationships. For example, when Anthony Merlin, managing director of architectural firm i2C, converted an old pub into his firm’s office, he included breakout areas in the renovations.
Educate management: Provide team leaders with basic training in identifying the signs of stress. Law firm Holding Redlich is one example of an employer that has positioned employee well-being at the heart of its EVP. The company promotes health and well-being programs for all employees, and host regular mental health, stress and burnout presentations by representatives from organizations such as R U OK and beyondblue.
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Timo Topp, founder of Well for Work. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.

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