Job stress tends to spill out into your personal life – at least if you let it. It’s wise to keep a clear line of distinction between your work and home life, though, and not allow the intensity and stress that you experience at work to sabotage your health.
Use these tips to get stress under control and have a more productive day at work.
Get Rid of Stress
Signs that you are under a lot of stress at work include inability to sleep, body aches and pains, irritability and frequent fights with your spouse, kids or other loved ones. Quitting your job isn’t necessarily the answer; and while regular exercise, healthy eating and daily meditation are effective at reducing stress in this case, there are other lesser known antidotes to your problem, including the following:
Take a Break – You have sick days (and vacation time) at your disposal for a reason. Take one before you feel you can’t stand stress any longer. Temporarily removing yourself from the work environment gives you the time and distance you need to reflect on the precise causes of your stress and how to eliminate them. If you don’t call in sick now, your body may soon force you to. Epidemiologists say that more than 80 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related illnesses.
Keep a Journal – Use your time off to experiment with keeping a journal. The idea behind journaling is to create a stress diary, in which you detail the sources of your work stress – and list what you like about the job. We often exaggerate work problems in our own minds. Writing them down helps us recognize this exaggeration.
For example, as a nurse you may feel swamped with paperwork in your mind when in reality only 25 percent of your time is spent with paperwork and the other 75 percent is spent doing the part of the job you love like caring for patients. Journaling may help you realize this fact and change the way you view your job.
Plan to Relax – Set time aside when you simply refuse to dwell on anything stressful. If the idea of having to remember to take your break makes you anxious, tie it to a regular activity – a shower, jog, commute, meal or something else that’s already been incorporated into your routine.
Many people would love to try deep breathing or another relaxation exercise, but they get so caught up in the workday that they forget to break. In such cases, the solution is to set up a visual reminder. You may find, for example, that a few moments of deep breathing and visualizing yourself sitting by a waterfall calms your nerves – and you can help yourself remember to use this technique at stressful times by hanging a picture of a waterfall in your office as a prompter.
Reduce Caffeine – The coffee, tea or soda that you depend on to get you through a stressful day may actually cause additional stress. Two cups of coffee a day contribute to anxiety. More than two cups creates anxiety. Try herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee instead. Better yet, keep a giant bottle of water visible and try to finish it before the end of the work day. This will curb hunger and keep you from munching on snacks. Plus, the extra hydration makes your body function better and gives you more energy so you can do your job well and fight stress.