44% of the UK population are said to frequently suffer from stress each year, and it is believed that the effects of stress cost the government 10 billion pounds per year. Over 12 million adults in the UK see their GP each year for stress related problems, and the workplace is reported as the most stressful of environments for many busy workers. If you feel stressed at work you’re not alone – 1 in 5 people in the UK feel ‘very or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work and approximately 13.3 million working days are lost per year due to stress and stress related causes.
What’s your Stress Sign?
Stress symptoms can appear in many different ways, and many people experience stress for such a long period of time that these symptoms become the norm. For some, an increased heart rate or a slight feeling of queasiness is enough to let them know they’re getting anxious or overwhelmed. Even the smallest of things can raise your blood pressure quickly, or have you pulling your hair out anxiously. Headaches, lack of sleep, changes to the food that you eat and use of alcohol and cigarettes are commonly associated with stress.
Try your best to stress-less as you have the power to reset these feelings almost instantly.
When we’re stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the “fight or flight response” in which our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (as the body requires more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict.
While for our cavemen ancestors the increased blood flow to our heart and muscles helped us escape from predators and dangerous situations, we find ourselves in a very different position now. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between an approaching dinosaur and an annoyed spouse or a particularly heightened workload, so our stress response is triggered when there’s no imminent danger. Instead of helping us to escape, this can contribute to chronic conditions like high blood pressure and headaches, as well as mental health concerns like depression and anxiety disorders. What’s more, stress can make other conditions like asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia worsen.
The good news is that just as we have a stress response, we also have an equally effective “relaxation response,” during which your breathing slows, your blood pressure decreases and you even use less oxygen. Knowing how to ‘turn on’ this relaxation response is the key to less stress and we have a few ways to help you stress-less and lead a more relaxed, happier, healthier life.
Fit-2-Work’s Less-Stress Solutions
Breath Easy – Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly. To breathe deeply, begin by putting your hand on your abdomen just below the belly button. Inhale slowly through your nose and watch your hand move out as your belly expands. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.
Put it on paper – Divide a piece of paper into two parts. On the left side, list the stressors you may be able to change, and on the right, list the ones that you can’t. Writing gives us a sence of prespective, will allow us to see where our stresses are coming from and encourage us to stop worrying about those that we can’t control.
Simply Smile – Smiling is a two-way mechanism. We do it when we’re relaxed and happy, but doing it can also make us feel relaxed and happy. Smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the brain, pushing our neurochemical balance toward calm and happiness. 🙂
Snack Smart – Comfort eating is often associated with junk food and should be avoided to minimise health risks. Healthy foods that are high in carbohydrates however such as fruits, as opposed to unhealthy snacks like crisp or chocolate stimulate the release of serotonin; feel-good brain chemicals that help induce calm. ‘Snack Smart to reduce stress and improve health’.
Walk it off – Walking elevated the heart rate, breathing rate and improves circulation. It can be done almost anywhere but get outside if you can. If that’s not possible, you can gain many of the same benefits simply by walking to the bathroom further way from your place of work, walking to commute where possible, having a ‘walking-meeting’ with colleagues or by pacing back and forth wherever you can.
Phone a Friend – Don’t keep your worries bottled up. sharing your worries can give you perspective, help you feel cared for and lessen the burden
Find time for fun – Spending time doing your hobies and interests will bring change to your every day routine. Make time for friends and family doing the things that you enjoy with the people that you love.
Stress Less and Improve your Health!